If Charles Duane Baker, Jr. is elected governor, there is no doubt the Pioneer Institute will be the architect of his education policy. Baker was a founding director of the Pioneer Institute, and Pioneer was a major player in K-12 education policy during the twelve years of Republican governors in Massachusetts. Several Republican appointees to the Massachusetts Board of Education had ties to Pioneer, including:
- Jim Peyser, executive director of the Pioneer Institute (1993-2000), chair of the Massachusetts Board of Education (1996-2003), managing director with NewSchools Venture Fund and former chairman of the National Association of Charter School Authorizers. Here’s his biography, from NewSchools:
Jim Peyser is the Managing Director of NewSchools City Funds at NewSchools Venture Fund’s Boston office, where he leads NewSchools’ city-focused investments. From 1999 through 2006, Jim served as Chairman of the Massachusetts Board of Education. Prior to joining NewSchools, Jim was Education Advisor to two Massachusetts Governors, where he helped shape state policy regarding standards and assessments, school accountability, and charter schools. In 1995, he served as Under Secretary of Education and Special Assistant to the Governor for Charter Schools. He spent more than seven years as Executive Director of Pioneer Institute for Public Policy Research, where he helped to launch and support Massachusetts’ first charter schools. Prior to joining Pioneer Institute, Jim held various positions at Teradyne, Inc. in Boston, an electronic test equipment manufacturer.
In his role with NewSchools, Jim currently serves on the board of directors for Achievement First, Success Charter Network, and Uncommon Schools. He is also a member of the Board of the National Association of Charter School Authorizers (NACSA) and the Massachusetts Center for Charter Public School Excellence. Jim holds a Master of Arts in Law and Diplomacy from the Fletcher School (Tufts University) and a Bachelor of Arts from Colgate University.
- Abigail Thernstrom, Board of Academic Advisors of the Pioneer Institute (1995-2003), member of the Massachusetts Board of Education (1995-2006), and senior fellow of the Manhattan Institute (1993-2009).
- Roberta Schaefer, Founding Director of the Worcester Municipal Research Bureau and member of the Massachusetts Board of Education (1996-2007). In her role with the Worcester Municipal Research Bureau, Roberta Schaefer was under contract to the Pioneer Institute for reports. The Pioneer Institute described her as “Worcester’s Heroine of Education Reform.”
- Henry M. Thomas III, President and CEO of the Urban League of Springfield. Founder and Chairman Emeritus of the New Leadership Charter School Board of Trustees. current chair of the UMass Board of Trustees), member of the Massachusetts Board of Education (2001-2006), member of the Pioneer Institute’s Center for School Reform Advisory Board.
- Sandra Stotsky, Professor Emerita of the University of Arkansas Department of Education Reform. Senior Associate Commissioner of the MA Department of Education (1999-2003), member of the Massachusetts Board of Education (2001-2010), Breitbart contributor, and member of the Pioneer Institute’s Center for School Reform Advisory Board.
- Charles Duane Baker, Jr., founding co-director of the Pioneer Institute, who left to join the Weld Administration in 1991, member of the Massachusetts Board of Education (1999-2003).
If Charles Duane Baker, Jr. invites his friends from the Pioneer Institute to take over the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, and the education bureaucracy in Malden, what can we expect? It’s all laid out on the Pioneer Institute website:
- Common Core: “Since 2009, Pioneer has led the campaign against Common Core national education standards and federal control of K-12 education policy, publishing a series of reports showing that the state’s adoption of national standards weakens the quality of academic content in Massachusetts’ classrooms, and raising serious questions about the legality and the costs of Common Core.”
- School Choice and Competition: “Pioneer believes parents and children deserve an alternative to failing district schools. School choice should include a menu of options, including: University partnerships, private management, Commonwealth and Horace Mann public charter schools, pilot schools, vocational-technical schools, scholarships to independent and parochial schools, and interdistrict choice (e.g., METCO).
- U.S. History Instruction: “Massachusetts is one of only nine states that do not require students to demonstrate knowledge of history or civics to graduate from high school. The state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education postponed making US History an MCAS-tested graduation requirement, citing costs. Middle school social studies departments have been eliminated in recent years, and high schools are replacing history and social science electives with other subjects. The country faces a growing challenge of engaging future generations, including newcomers, in America’s social, economic and civic life. That’s why Pioneer has always championed high academic standards that emphasize content, including instruction in U.S. History and civics.”
- Virtual Learning: “Pioneer’s Center for School Reform has worked to raise public awareness of the potential that digital learning has to meet educational needs, and seeks to expand high-quality, accountable digital learning opportunities in Massachusetts. While Massachusetts’ 2010 education law allows for the expansion of virtual learning, the state’s education department has promulgated highly restrictive regulations. Across the country, 40 states other than Massachusetts have full- or part-time online digital learning programs. The Bay State lags behind many states in the number of students in digital schools, with only 500. We believe it is time for the Hub of world-class education and information technology to take the lead.”
- Academic Standards: “Pioneer Institute has been a staunch advocate for district and school accountability, high-quality academic content, and content-based student and teacher assessments that align with the state’s nation-leading academic standards.
Nationally, Pioneer has led the campaign against federal control of K-12 education policy through the Common Core initiative. Pioneer has published a series of research papers showing that the state’s adoption of national standards weakens the quality of academic content in Massachusetts’ classrooms, and raising serious questions about the legality and the costs of Common Core.”