Press Release: New Book Aims to Make Mass. National Leader in Economic Mobility

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Calls for changes in education, healthcare, the delivery of public services, and economic development policies to increase social mobility and the public trust

BOSTON – With the inauguration of a new governor and legislature, Pioneer Institute announces the publication of Agenda for Leadership, the Institute’s blueprint for systemic reforms to education, healthcare, and economic development policies, as well as the delivery of public services.

“Fixing our schools has always been Pioneer’s number one priority because education largely determines an individual’s ability to rise up the economic ladder,” says Jim Stergios, Pioneer’s executive director.  “Agenda for Leadership 2015 goes further.  It aims to lay out a set of policies that would allow Massachusetts to address the increasing stratification of our society.  That’s an important national debate where we want Massachusetts to play a leadership role.”

The book’s topics are arranged into four broad areas: Education, Healthcare, Better Government and Economic Opportunity.

Among the education recommendations are calls to expand the menu of options available to parents, including more charter schools and vocational-technical schools, as well as seats available through interdistrict choice options like METCO.  It also calls for the Commonwealth to recommit to world-class liberal arts content standards for all students, and thus reject Common Core.

Among the healthcare recommendations are proposals to expand the number and cost-accessibility of patient choices, including the expansion of convenience clinics in Boston and the ability of new providers to enter the Massachusetts market.  It also provides fixes for many of our public health programs, such as MassHealth and the Department of Children and Families.

Enhanced transparency is a theme that cuts across issue areas.  “Open, transparent government is fundamental to the democratic process,” said Mary Connaughton, Pioneer’s director of transparency.  “Yet, the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press ranked our state among the weakest in the nation for governmental transparency.  Following the transparency recommendations in Agenda for Leadership would restore the public trust that has been compromised by archaic transparency laws rife with exemptions.”

Pioneer calls for the elimination of a number of exemptions to the public records and open meeting laws.  Among the healthcare recommendations is a call for the prices of various medical procedures to be posted in a way that is meaningful to all system stakeholders, and that rewards “smart shoppers.”

Within Better Government, the book offers chapters on transportation, transparency, procurement and the cost of public services.  Agenda for Leadership renews Pioneer’s call for a financial control board at the MBTA, as well as broader operational reforms and revenues for state and local transportation.

The volume’s economic opportunity section focuses on ways the state can help address the enormous gulf between the economies of Greater Boston and those in older, industrialized cities across the state, and reintegrate welfare recipients into the mainstream workforce.  It also lays out a broad set of steps to improve state and local permitting, modernize workforce training and make Massachusetts the most attractive state in the union for research and development-related companies. Finally, it outlines judicious housing reforms that allow for more dense development even while protecting our environment.

The recommendations included in Agenda for Leadership are drawn from dozens of reports.

The volume is co-edited by Jim Stergios and Mary Connaughton.  The purchase price is $9.95.  It is available through the Institute ( and 617-723-2277), and can be ordered online. Excerpts are available for download on Pioneer’s website.

About Pioneer

Pioneer Institute is an independent, non-partisan, privately funded research organization that seeks to improve the quality of life in Massachusetts through civic discourse and intellectually rigorous, data-driven public policy solutions based on free market principles, individual liberty and responsibility, and the ideal of effective, limited and accountable government.