Tom Birmingham

Guest Contributor, Pioneer Institute

Stories by Tom Birmingham

Falling short on school standards and funding

Falling short on school standards and funding

As Mass. celebrates 25th anniversary of 1993 reform law, we're squandering our gains

AS MASSACHUSETTS MARKS the 25th anniversary of a landmark Education Reform Act that propelled us to the head of the national class in public education, the Commonwealth’s latest results from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) are mildly encouraging.  But they alone cannot erase what has been nearly a decade of troubling news on(...)

Read More »

Time to lift up Boston’s voc-tech high school

Time to lift up Boston’s voc-tech high school

Years of missteps are leaving students behind

“SUCCESS IS TO BE measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life,” said Booker T. Washington, the famous turn-of-the-20th-century black educator, “as by the obstacles… overcome.” February is both Black History and Career and Technical Education month. No figure in America’s past bridged those two worlds like Booker Washington, who was(...)

Read More »

Our schools ignore US history at our peril

Our schools ignore US history at our peril

State must make good on requirement for history instruction and testing

ABOUT 25 YEARS AGO, as a member of the Massachusetts Senate, I co-authored the Massachusetts Education Reform Act. Drafting a complex bill with such far-reaching consequences requires significant compromise, but one thing my counterparts in the House of Representatives and then-Gov. Bill Weld all agreed upon was the importance of educating students about our nation’s history.(...)

Read More »

Will district schools embrace charter-like reforms?

Will district schools embrace charter-like reforms?

Burden now falls on local school leaders to deliver results

LONG BEFORE MORE than $40 million was spent last year making the cases for and against charter public school expansion, I was skeptical about using a statewide ballot initiative to decide the question. I believe ballot initiatives are best reserved for instances where the Legislature is flouting public opinion, and that wasn’t so with Massachusetts(...)

Read More »

Voc-tech schools are a Mass. success story

Voc-tech schools are a Mass. success story

4,400 students are on waitlists; let's expand schools that work

MASSACHUSETTS VOCATIONAL-TECHNICAL high schools are like the person who toils for years, only to be termed an “overnight sensation” when he or she finally achieves recognition. For over a decade the schools have quietly compiled an impressive record, and the time has come to expand them. Voc-tech schools were once among the staunchest opponents of MCAS(...)

Read More »

A school-choice double standard

A school-choice double standard

METCO supporters should also embrace charters

THE NATIONAL ASSOCIATION for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) is right to have long supported the Metropolitan Council for Economic Opportunity (METCO), through which more than 3,300 Boston and Springfield students attend school in surrounding suburbs each year.  METCO has two basic goals: to bring diversity to suburban communities and to provide urban families(...)

Read More »

About-face

About-face

Diane Ravitch's change of heart on testing and charter schools

The Death and Life of The Great American School System: How Testing and Choice Are Undermining Education By Diane RavitchNew York, Basic Books, 283 pages diane ravitch is the preeminent historian of American public education. For decades she has played Cassandra, challenging the received wisdom and questioning trendy notions of what does and doesn’t help(...)

Read More »