Ed funding debate takes Pioneer detour

The debate over increased state funding for education took a detour last week as the Pioneer Institute and its critics tangled over a reform proposal designed to give the state more leverage at the local school level.

It started on March 10, when Charles Chieppo and Jamie Gass of the Pioneer Institute proposed in a CommonWealth op-ed that the state should invest more in K-12 education but that the additional aid should come with the power to appoint a proportional number of local school committee members. If a community gets 50 percent of its school funding from the state, then the state should get to appoint 50 percent of the school committee members.

“This approach would pair more money with the appointment of officials whose role it would be to safeguard the interests of those who rightly expect improved performance in return for their investment,” Chieppo and Gass argued. “The state appointees could be chosen to provide needed managerial skills or academic expertise. Just as important, they would be independent, free of cozy ties to the school district they’re entrusted with reforming.”

Matt Malone, the superintendent of the Fall River schools, responded using the school system’s official Twitter account. “Blah Blah #Bozos big mouth bureaucratic #wonks who think they know more than those who work w/ children in schools – in the #Arena @TeddyRoosevIt – Support the cornerstone of #democracy – elected school committees not #privatization.”

Chieppo responded: ”Keep hitting it out of the park, Fall River!”

Malone invited Chieppo to come to Fall River to see what the school system is doing. “Talk is cheap and your articles are boring so we would love to host you to change your perception on what we do,” he tweeted.

Chieppo told the Herald-News that Malone’s rant on the school system’s Twitter account was unprecedented. “I’m not a social media expert, but I thought it’s one thing when a ‘bozo’ like me writes controversial stuff on Twitter, but for Fall River schools to write something like that it was really kind of mind boggling,” he said. “It’s incredibly amateurish. It’s another step in Malone’s longtime seeming desire to be the most immature guy in the room.”

Chieppo’s comments seemed a lot like name-calling, even though Pioneer issued a “responsible reply” to Malone’s comments promising there would be no name calling, just facts with links to data and sources.

Malone received the backing of Glenn Koocher, the executive director of the Massachusetts Association of School Committees, who said “sometimes you’ve got to toss a rhetorical bomb in order to get yourself noticed.”

Maurice Cunningham, an associate professor of political science at UMass Boston, also weighed in on the unfairness of Pioneer’s proposal and the hidden agenda of Pioneer’s conservative backers (David Koch, the Walton Family Foundation, etc.). Cunningham said the Pioneer proposal creates a two-tier democracy.

“If you’re driving a Beamer you get all the voting rights of full citizenship,” he said. “If you’re driving a Beater, you get some voting rights but don’t get to vote for school committee in your town.”

–BRUCE MOHL


BEACON HILL

Gov. Charlie Baker files legislation to expand Springfield’s empowerment zone education model to schools statewide. (MassLive)

Employees at the state’s quasi-public authorities enjoy pretty nice pay, with roughly half of those at some agencies paid $100,000 or more. (Boston Globe)

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

Worcester’s last Jewish deli is closing after 99 years in business. (Telegram & Gazette)

Students in Beverly want people as young as 16 to have the right to vote in local elections, which would require a change in state law. (Salem News)

WASHINGTON/NATIONAL/INTERNATIONAL

Local officials and so-called Dreamers applaud a House bill that would provide permanent protection and a path to citizenship to young immigrants and others under selected residency statuses. (CommonWealth)

California Gov. Gavin Newsom is suing Huntington Beach, California, for failing to comply with a law intended to address the state’s housing crunch. (Governing)

ELECTIONS

At a CNN town hall in Mississippi, Sen. Elizabeth Warren called for an elimination of the Electoral College. (Associated Press)

Sen. Ed Markey says he’ll donate $3,600 in campaign contributions he’s received from Patriots owner Robert Kraft, who faces charges of soliciting sex from a prostitute, to an organization combating human trafficking. (Boston Globe) Will Kraft’s many philanthropic beneficiaries and his colleagues on the Massachusetts Competitive Partnership shun him as well?

EDUCATION

Trying to close a budget gap, the Natick School Committee voted to assess a $200 fee on students who park at the high school and a 33 percent increase in the bus fee

Faculty at Westfield State University vote no confidence in President Ramon Torreciha. (MassLive)

The Metropolitan Council for Educational Opportunity, or METCO, which brings city students out to suburban schools, is considering changing its application process, moving from a first-come, first-served waitlist to a lottery system, and swapping out the paper forms for an online portal. (WGBH)

Joan Vennochi says Attorney General Maura Healey is wrong not to pursue a legal case against leaders of now-shuttered Mt. Ida College. (Boston Globe)

Quincy School Committee member Anthony Andronico says emergency buttons to contact police have been installed in each of the city’s schools as a part of a push to assure student safety. (Patriot Ledger)

North Andover public schools asked a 15-year-old girl who claimed she was raped by Eliezer Tuttle in 2017 to sign an agreement to keep away from him at school, but she refused, her mother told the Eagle-Tribune. Tuttle is now jailed on rape charges in New Hampshire. Another female North Andover student signed a so-called safety plan to keep away from Tuttle last year. The school committee and Superintendent Gregg Gilligan have either ignored the Eagle-Tribune’s phone calls or avoided talking about the particular case.

ProPublica editor Dan Golden, who wrote the book The Price of Admission: How America’s Ruling Class Buys Its Way into Elite Colleges–and Who Gets Left Outside the Gates said the parents in the recent college admission scandal “took it to another criminal, even more brazen level” and he predicts colleges might become more skeptical about recommendations from independent counselors. (Greater Boston) Some of the charging details in the case, plus some good lawyering, could mean little or no jail time for parents convicted in the case, say some legal observers. (Bloomberg)

HEALTH/HEALTH CARE

Jonathan Morgan left his group home in Lawrence early Saturday morning; a worker reported him missing early that afternoon; and he was found the next day, unconscious in some woods in North Andover. He later died, and police now want mental health workers to call them immediately when they can’t find a high-risk individual. (Eagle-Tribune)

ARTS/CULTURE

As storefront retailing takes a hit across the country, Cambridge is looking transform vacant spaces into ad-hoc art galleries. (Boston Globe)

More than 35 entries have been submitted by Brockton High School students for a mural for food pantry, The Charity Guild. (Brockton Enterprise)

TRANSPORTATION

The MBTA’s Fiscal and Management Control Board is trying to figure out how to kickstart a debate about broader transportation revenues. Transportation Secretary Stephanie Pollack is offering to help, while acknowledging she doesn’t think more revenues are needed. (CommonWealth)

T notes: A submerged Blue Line Station at Orient Heights is back online Monday morning, prompting tributes from state transportation leaders. Plus, lane closures coming on main arteries into Boston this summer….T prioritizes future projects…Commuter rail on on-time roll…Crash prone Cape highway getting makeover. (CommonWealth)

A state task force is urging a carrot-and-stick (mostly carrots) approach with the 15 regional transit authorities. (CommonWealth)

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

A Marlborough company was selected by Boston officials to coordinate electricity purchasing for more than 200,000 accounts in the city as part of the “community choice aggregation” effort aimed at driving greener energy purchasing. (Boston Globe)

CASINOS/MARIJUANA

A Globe story explores whether the casino market in the Northeast is already saturated — a question CommonWealth raised two years ago.

Under a suspension of the rules, the US House of Representatives will look to fast-track a bill aimed at ending a legal challenge to the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe’s reservation, according to sources close to the process. Reservation status could clear the way for the tribe to open a casino. (Cape Cod Times)

Could the closed J.C. Penney’s store in the Berkshire Mall get a new lease on life as a marijuana growing facility?

Tara Sue Sharp and Jon Yvon are two of the many cooks incorporating marijuana into their dishes, but pot chefs operate in a legal gray area because the Cannabis Control Commission prohibits on-site social consumption. (WBUR)

CRIMINAL JUSTICE/COURTS

Federal prosecutors in the overtime fraud case against former State Police troopers say the officers had a quota system for issuing tickets, a practice that state courts have ruled unconstitutional. (Boston Globe)

Police are investigating vandalism in which oil was poured on a memorial stone in South Boston to veterans who were killed in World War II. (Boston Herald)

Former Hyannis doctor Mohammad Nassery, who pleaded guilty in 2016 to illegally prescribing opioids, is having his probation reduced after a hearing in Barnstable Superior Court. (Cape Cod Times)

MEDIA

An editorial in the MetroWest Daily News, which is owned by GateHouse Media, appeals for financial support in the form of subscriptions and advertising.

Nine local journalism organizations in Charlotte form a collaborative to focus on the housing crisis in the community. (Nieman Journalism Lab)