Fall 2012

Fall 2012

High-stakes test

High-stakes test

Trying to fix a broken school district may be the right thing to do, but no one has ever succeeded at it. Can Lawrence break the mold?

Lawrence school receiver Jeff Riley greets families in late August on the first day of school at Lawrence High School JEFF RILEY RECEIVED a fairly consistent piece of advice when he was considering the offer to become receiver for the Lawrence public schools, the person in charge of the state takeover of the chronically low-performing(...)

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Rhode Island red

Rhode Island red

The Ocean State did the math on pensions and boldly went where no state had gone before

little rhody was in big trouble. That much Gina Raimondo knew when she pumped her fist in victory on election night two years ago. It wasn’t until the new Rhode Island state treasurer set up shop in her cavernous offices in the Ocean State’s majestic State House that she found out how close the ship(...)

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Here comes StateStat

Massachusetts joins the movement to track data to improve government performance

FOLLOWING THE LEAD of many cities and towns across the country, the state of Massachusetts is launching a program to harness more data that can be used to sharpen government performance and deliver not just services but results. A new state law requires state managers to set goals, collect data measuring their progress in meeting(...)

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Fire drill

Fire drill

Two-thirds of Massachusetts schools lack sprinkler systems even though fires are commonplace

  ‘ As adults we believe we are putting our children into a safe environment,” says State Fire Marshall Stephen Coan. as tropical storm Irene raged through the western part of the state during the first weekend of August, a lightning bolt exploded into the Rowe Elementary School and destroyed the small brick and wood building(...)

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A representative sample

A representative sample

Pollsters forced to pursue new methods

as we approach election day, one can scarcely turn on the news or pick up a newspaper without reading about polls. Polls in the run-up to election day tend to focus on which politician is up and which one is down, what their “favorability rating” is, and where their support is coming from. The prevalence(...)

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Waiver warfare

Waiver warfare

Obama administration offers states waivers from education and welfare law, but Republicans raise alarms

of the domestic policy achievements of the past two decades, most would agree the two biggest are the welfare reform law of 1996 and the No Child Left Behind education law of 2001. The first ended guaranteed lifetime cash assistance to needy families and required the poor to work while receiving temporary aid. The education(...)

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Closing the biomass carbon loophole

Closing the biomass carbon loophole

Burning wood not that clean

worldwide, forest fires and forest harvesting are recognized as major sources of the carbon dioxide (CO2) that is warming the climate, causing drought, and melting ice caps. Yet, paradoxically, most state, regional, and federal efforts to reduce emissions treat biomass power plants that burn wood for fuel as “carbon neutral,” with zero net emissions. Massachusetts(...)

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Tracking the cash

Tracking the cash

Massachusetts lawmakers turn the corner in reporting donor information

after decades of shrugging off campaign finance disclosure mandates, Massachusetts lawmakers have finally turned the tide in reporting what their donors do for a living, giving watchdogs the tools to monitor the influence of money in state politics. Under campaign finance law, anyone who contributes an aggregate of $200 or more in a calendar year(...)

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Correspondence

Green is good, economically My fellow real estate developer David Begelfer misses the mark when he suggests Massachusetts’ forward-looking climate and energy policies are somehow too expensive and bad for our economy (“Out Front on Climate Change,” Summer ’12). The truth is, that since the enactment of the 2008 Green Communities Act, average monthly energy(...)

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No dice

No dice

A casino would hurt, not help, Holyoke’s economic redevelopment efforts

since the state of Massachusetts legalized casino gambling, many cities throughout the state have begun competing for the opportunity to place a casino within their borders. Indeed, many in my hometown have advocated for a casino in Holyoke, calling it a potential boon to our struggling economy. Proponents of a casino here suggest that this(...)

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