Spring 2000

Spring 2000

This is only a test

Kids are the canaries in the mineshaft of education reform

It’s springtime, which has come to mean not only balmy weather and blooming flowers but MCAS testing in our public schools. In April, fourth-, eighth-, and 10th-graders took their tests in English composition. In May, these students will sharpen their Number 2 pencils for subject-matter tests in four areas: English Language Arts and Literature; Mathematics;(...)

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The Speaker Who Might Be Mayor

It was a harmless, if immodest, musing in his high-school alma mater’s alumni magazine that first cranked up the political rumor mill about Speaker of the House Thomas Finneran’s next career move. “I look at the different governors that I’ve known–Mike Dukakis, Ed King, Bill Weld, and Paul Cellucci. I’d be as good as or(...)

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Playing The Budget Surplus Game

Last year’s endless budget impasse demonstrated that it can be just as tough to decide how to spend an abundance of state revenue as it is to parcel out budget cuts. But a Brookline entrepreneur and a Boston University law professor say the four-month logjam might have been avoided if Gov. Paul Cellucci, Senate President(...)

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Mario Faces Deportation

When Armando Baptiste walked into Dorchester District Court last summer, he was hoping to settle accounts with the law and get on with his life. Indeed, not eager to draw attention to his less-than-proud past, he and the Boston youth workers who convinced him to face up to an outstanding assault charge asked that we(...)

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Fortune Teller Deregulation

It takes more than a crystal ball, a set of tarot cards, and some New Age music to make it as a psychic in Massachusetts. State law requires all fortune tellers to be licensed by local authorities. But rather than certifying their clairvoyance (or even their acting abilities), would-be psychics must instead prove they have(...)

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Fighting Crime Doesnt Pay

It was Tom Campbell’s dream to be a prosecutor. He lived that dream for six years, joining the Suffolk County District Attorney’s office straight out of Northeastern Law School in 1993. But last November, Campbell quit to join a private law firm in Boston. Why? “I left,” he says, “because I couldn’t support my family.”(...)

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Exporting Clout

For most lobbyists, mystery is the name of the game. After all, how do you justify those high hourly fees to corporate clients if getting your way on Beacon Hill isn’t some high (if not black) art? But Judith C. Meredith, dean of human service lobbyists, has always given it away. Of course, she has(...)

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Bragging Rights For College Towns

Apparently, the title “University Capital of North America” is one worth tussling over. So far, a three-way international wresting match for bragging rights has developed among Boston, Montreal, and now Worcester. It all started in January, when The Chronicle of Higher Education reported on a study by Montreal’s McGill University. Conveniently, the study found that(...)

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The Acid Test

At an event like the annual winter meeting of the Massachusetts Association of School Superintendents, discussions of school safety or finance issues are as commonplace as the coffee-and-danish breakfast. But one mid-morning session carried a title more typical of gatherings at a hospital or community center. Echoing the same mix of anger, fear, resignation, and(...)

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Teaching to the Test

Inside Massachusetts public schools, MCAS has become a cyclone whose fury knows no bounds. In just two short years, the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System has whipped up a mixture of hope, fear, and anger in thousands of students, teachers, administrators, and parents. In the short run, it has forced educators to recognize that students who(...)

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