Archive for Education

MA Ballot Questions and Public Transit Shows Coming

The next two Tuesday shows have disparate topics:

  • TU 8/23, I’ll cover the four, likewise disparate, Massachusetts ballot questions for November 8th.
  • TU 8/23, the interim director of Transportation for MA (a huge coalition of public interest groups) joins me to discuss how to get everyone from home to work and back at a reasonable price on a reasonable schedule, safely.

If you want to listen live or chime, click here at 2:30 PM Eastern on 8/23 for the ballot questions. Likewise, if transit equity is real to you, click here at 1:30 PM Eastern on 8/30 or the T4MA show.

As always, the shows are available afterward back here, at the show URL or on our iTunes page.



No! Town, Boston

You want to do something exciting and edgy? Boston will watch from a distance.

Let’s not talk about the old Banned-in-Boston literature and performance. Let’s not talk about Blue Laws. Let’s come to recent times, the past few years

The mayor, other pols, and citizens have defeated:

  • Summer Olympics
  • More, easy-to-get liquor licenses
  • A single F1 car race
  • In town casino
  • 24-hour mass transit
  • Late-night mass transit

What gives in a city, town really, that loves to brag it is world class? Alas, Adam Gaffin over at is like spot on when it call this the city that always sleeps.

A few centuries ago, Boston and Charleston SC were seen as sister cities. Their social conservatism accounted for much of the zeitgeist. They did develop stifling Blue Laws together. Boston also hid behind Puritans, then and still it ducks behind its Roman Catholicism. Those were supposed to account for and excuse the petty and nasty limits on human behavior, speech and even thought.

I’ve lived in Boston for 36 years, after a decade in Manhattan. I draw my conclusions on why this town will live vicariously through its huge student population and asthenic arts life, as though that was plenty of vitality and creativity for everyone. Harrumph.

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Reset of Public Schools Podcast

This is the moment, a second chance for change in a short time, for foundering Boston Public Schools, according to John Connolly. He joined came on today to talk about the Quality Choice Plan.

The first chance was what he called “a swing and a miss,” that brought a pretty reactionary teachers-union contract.

That new plan is either a sweeping vision for much needed reform or a renegade assault on business as usual replete with incremental efforts at the edges. He and the Globe and I among many others think of it as the former. He and I share a devotion to public education, including putting our kids in BPS. No one I know of matches his passion for the schools, fitting as he has chaired the City Council’s Education Committee for over three years.

He’s the point man for this plan, which he fine tuned with another Councilor (Matt O’Malley) and four MA Reps (Linda Dorcena Forry, Nick Collins, Ed Coppinger, and Russell Holmes). As he has in Council, he doesn’t mind taking any heat, sharing any plaudits, and meeting with everyone who can and wants to make big improvements.

Listen in as we describe the plan’s big ideas. Do check the link up top for the 10-page plan. It is unlike the typical timid proposals for upgrading urban school systems. He does touch on such high points as 16 citywide schools with dual-language and other concentrations, guaranteed K2 seats on one of the four schools closest to home, annual teacher and principal evaluations, and most of all, a strong push for innovation status schools. Those would follow the model of the successful turnarounds like the Trotter. John describes the components.

Of course, the talks about some of the pending conflicts. When I attended the press conference announcing the plan, he alluded to such essentials as longer school days — an anathema to the local teachers’ union, which just set a four-year contract. We didn’t really get into another broad area, the not-invented-here syndrome. He did mention that the School Committee leans toward its incremental, modest student-assignment proposal. He’d rather see the Quality Choice Plan or at least a hybrid with its key features.

Listen in to hear him on the plan.

icon for podpress  Connolly on BPS [30:36m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download


Podium and Public Ed Shows

Our next two LA shows are set. Next Tuesday, 10/9, the usual suspects chat up the second Warren/Brown Senate and the first Obama/Romney debate-like-events. The following week, 10/16, a brash proposal from on high might revamp the Boston Public Schools.

If you can catch Ryan and Mike live pontificating on the kinda debates, go here at 2:30 PM Eastern on Oct. 9th. We’ll consider call-ins at 718-664-6966. Make nice if you want to join in on this.

The following week, John Connolly, who chairs Boston City Council’s Committee on Education, joins us. He’s driving toward a breathtaking overhaul of BPS. If you want to hear that live, go here at 2:30 PM Eastern on Oct. 16th.

Each show is available on demand afterward of hear in a player or download. Go to that show’s URL, come back here to Left Ahead, or go to our iTunes page.


Kearns Goodwin Update Show

A month from the primary that almost certainly will decide the 3rd Middlesex MA Senate race, five Dems are in the race for the open seat. Joe Kearns Goodwin joined us got an update.

We couldn’t get him to pick on fellow candidates, but he did get into his issues. In a contest to replace a respected progressive, Susan Fargo, who’s retiring, a big part of this race is differentiating yourself. Listen in as Kearns Goodwin describes his emphasis on specific areas of education as well as a drive for a graduated income tax. While he has combat experience in two wars and has detailed proposals in education, he still sees the big battle to be fought in the Joint Revenue Committee area. Hear him describe how refining the tax burdens, and as important, defining where additional moneys should go are the future.

Kearns Goodwin is a champion of training MA workers (maybe starting in kindergarten) to have the skills employers will need and many already have going unfilled. Click below to hear him describe the ways he thinks we need to match jobs with job seekers.

He also spoke about what he liked and saw lacking in the recent agenda of the General Court.

icon for podpress  Joe Kearns Goodwin update [29:44m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download


Alex Buck Podcast

Not your usual politician, as Alex Buck describes himself, joined us today to pitch his positions and his aims if he becomes Susan Fargo’s replacement in the MA Senate for 3rd Middlesex. He says he tells voters in his front door speech that’s one of his pluses.

He warned us that his campaign site is almost fleshed out, but won’t get his platform and issues for a few more days. Meanwhile, click below to hear his views and goals on a very wide range, from education to taxes to growing our economy to mass transit to the role of government.

Buck layered a masters in public administration from Harvard’s Kennedy School on his mechanical engineering bachelors. He talks about his vision for an economy that educates for and enables the likes of life sciences, biotech and clean energy. He is firmly against giving tax breaks to individual companies (comparing that the mere fertilizer when an industry’s entire environment should foster all companies who enter it or expand in it).

He sees education from all-day kindergarten through public support to keep state colleges affordable to workplace education as pivotal to building and expanding these essential industries. Listen in as he addresses why he thinks we are one of the few places in the country that can pull this off.

This was the fourth in the 3rd Middlesex Senate series. Mara Dolan was the first, Mike Barrett the second, and Joe Kearns Goodwin the third.

icon for podpress  Alex Buck [31:48m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download


Tag Team Pundits Podcast

Ryan and Mike were at elections 2012 again. We recapped the more inane blunders of the GOP, in Congress as well as Mitt Romney. We left the state legislatures and governors alone this week.

Ryan believes voters will start to pay attention a few weeks before the general election. He is sanguine enough to think Dems will retain the Senate and maybe pick up a few in the House. He also thinks that Warren will top Brown in a tight race.

Mike remains befuddled that so many voters seem willing to be fabulists and fantasists. The GOP has done so much to alienate whole classes of voters — middle class, poor, students, women, Latinos and on and on. Yet, many voters seem to want to accept demonstrably false claims, such as a mythical class of “job creator” companies and rich individuals who will, any day now, actually start helping our economy despite their failure to do so to date.

This harks back to the Reagan fantasies of trickle-down economics and guns-and-butter national expenditures based on an endless growth spiral that didn’t and couldn’t happen. Mike finds dreams nice, but no way to choose Presidents.

icon for podpress  Tag Team Pundits [29:58m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download


Tobin on Boston and Northeastern Podcast

John Tobin says he can’t really miss being a Boston City Councilor. In his new role, he deals constantly with the same officials, including Councilors, the Mayor and legislators that he did in City Hall. As Northeastern University’s VP for Community and City Affairs, he jokes that his office is still on the fifth floor, but across town.

He joined us to say what that entails and to talk about the challenges big and small. Listen in as he discusses PILOT (payment in lieu of taxes) that NEU recently increased. He also stresses the many community volunteer projects his students and staff participate. Less visible but at least as important is support of public schools, particularly the Edward M. Kennedy Academy for Health Careers right on the NEU campus, but also in numerous other Boston public schools. “I think the best payment-in-lieu-of-taxes we can make is to help those kids,” he said.

Many of the interactions the larger community has with colleges and universities are less pleasant, such as rowdy parties. Click below to hear how his and other universities address those, including ride-arounds every weekend.

Tobin also discusses NEU’s master plan that it will file with the city by the end of December. That will start a large and long set of community meetings, beginning tomorrow night.

icon for podpress  John Tobin [35:59m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download


Tobin Talks Town and Gown

John Tobin joins us to discuss the interplay of universities and cities. A self-defined political junkie, he has acted and observed, both as a Boston City Councilor and more recently as Northeastern University’s VP for City & Community Affairs. He’s represented the city and the school. He brings a unique perspective to how both sides can work well or poorly with the other.

To catch him live, go here Tuesday, April 24th at 2:30 PM Eastern. Afterward the show will be available on demand to hear or download at that URL, back here at Left Ahead and on our iTunes page.


Thy Willard Be Done Podcast

Ah, coincidences amuse and fulfill us all. As we started today’s show, Rick Santorum was literally announcing the suspension of his campaign for the GOP nomination for POTUS. While edgewise Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul are still in the now misnamed race, Willard Mitt Romney will run against President Obama in November. Punditry has it that Santorum hopes Romney does not have an outright majority of delegates for the Tampa convention and that he’ll somehow magically get the slot. Dream on.

Ryan and Mike started reveling in the turns and dips. We mused on whether the candidates had done so much damage to Romney and pushed him soooooooooooo far to the right that he had zero appeal to left, moderate and even ordinary right-wing voters. Then there have been Romney’s colossally arrogant and insensitive gaffes, indicating how divorced he is from reality, at least the lives of 90% or more of us.

In a pleasant surprise, former Boston City Councilor John Tobin joined us. This self-described political junkie is now VP at Northeastern University charged with community relations. We spoke a bit about the recent increase in PILOT (payment in lieu of taxes) to the city from his school, but mostly it was politics.

Listen in as he describes how he still believes it will be a tight race, still dependent on the state of the economy come fall. Mike and Ryan are in the camp that the GOP, from POTUS candidate level to state legislatures and governors, has so hosed itself, it has even bigger repairs needed before it has the slightest shot in November.

icon for podpress  Thy Willard Be Done [31:50m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download