The Pioneer Institute was founded in 1988 to change the direction of public policy in Massachusetts by influencing opinion-shapers, policy-makers, and the public. Modeled on the conservative Manhattan Institute and Britain’s Institute of Economic Affairs but in pursuing relevance in a blue state, Pioneer deliberately sought a formula that wins hearts to a free market agenda. Because underneath Pioneer’s support for “best practices” and good government is a conservative pursuit of shrinking and privatizing government functions, in alignment with its mission supporting “limited government” and policy based on “free market principles.”
In 2002, PRA published The Pioneer Institute: Privatizing the Common Wealth. Co-authored by veteran journalist Paul Dunphy and researcher Mark Umi Perkins, this report examined how the Pioneer Institute’s work in promoting privatization in a host of areas including mental health care, education, charter schools, and school vouchers, tracing the movements of former Pioneer staff members through state government in the Weld, Cellucci and Swift administrations.
In 2016, sociologist and PRA research fellow, Abby Scher, authored a current analysis of the Pioneer Institute entitled, “Privatizing Massachusetts: The Right-Wing’s Blue State Game Plan.” Assisted by this research, Community Labor United launched Eye on Privatization to expose some of the true motives and architects of privatization schemes that have enabled private companies to record massive profits by taking advantage of taxpayer dollars while lowering standards for both workers and the public.
In 2019, PRA research fellow, Jessica Quiason, authored “Exploiting Equity: How the Pioneer Institute Co-opts the Concept of Social Justice” demonstrating how three of the Pioneer Institute’s leading claims that their education reforms create greater equity in schools are not only unfounded but that these reforms disproportionately harm communities of color and immigrant communities.
The 2002 Report and Resources:
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Appendix: Remarks by the Founding Chairman to the State Policy Network.