MCAS or PARCC? Neither, MCAS 2.0

Here’s a link to an article I wrote for the MetroWest Daily News on the nuisances of MCAS vs. PARCC, and where the state might go next.


Stretched Thin: Foster family shortage stretches families thin

This article appeared in the MetroWest Daily News on Aug. 31

In the home where Avalena Conway-Coxon lived, there were a lot of other children. By state standards, there were too many young children, but a waiver said that was OK.

Then Avalena died on Aug. 15 of still unknown causes, there were two other children under the age of 3 living in the Auburn home: an adopted 9-year-old girl, and two children who belonged to Avalena’s foster mother. The Department of Children and Families had granted an “over capacity” variance to allow more than the typical number of children under age 3 to live there.
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Triumph and tragedy with tomatoes

This article appeared in the MetroWest Daily News on Aug. 21

When the winter’s relentless snow crushed Peter MacArthur’s greenhouse, the one his sons helped him build and where he grew his prized tomatoes, MacArthur said he felt like a part of him was gone.

That’s why victory was extra sweet for MacArthur on Thursday when he took the prize for best tomato in the state. After all that was lost at MacArthur Farm, MacArthur said nabbing the title for best tomato in the state was a fruitful reward for his hard work.

“For us, it was emotional,” MacArthur said as his wife, Helen, manned the counter at their Concord Road produce stand. Next to the stand, MacArthur’s former greenhouse stands broken and bent after the weight of snow this winter ruined it. “My boys built that greenhouse. When it came down, it was like a part of me died. We were shocked (to win) yesterday.”


Peter MacArthur slices into one of his prize-winning tomatoes on a rainy day at the farm.

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When it comes to shopping, it’s a buyer’s market

This article appeared in the MetroWest Daily News on Aug. 16

When it comes to grocery shopping, many customers are creatures of both convenience and habit, but the emergence of big new stores show even loyal shoppers are subject to stray for a new experience.

Wegmans Food Market is set to open a two-story store in the Natick Mall in 2017, the second in MetroWest. The New York-based grocery chain will be entering a market already flooded with competition, but spokeswoman Jeanne Colleluori said the company isn’t worried about attracting customers.

As mom and pop stores like Hopkinton’s recently closed Colella’s are on their way out, big stores like Wegmans and Whole Foods Market are finding ways to attract customers from a large region by making themselves a destination. Shoppers don’t always want groceries to be a big to-do, however, keeping stores like Stop & Shop popular as the convenient neighborhood market.

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Good news for Buddy Dog

This article appeared in the MetroWest Daily News on Aug. 20.

SUDBURY – Buddy Dog Humane Society might have found a new home, one that might be welcomed by all involved.

At a Thursday night selectmen’s meeting, Buddy Dog trustee Steve Burtt said the animal shelter is reconsidering its planned move to Wayside Inn Road to property adjacent to its current Boston Post Road digs.

In February, the humane society agreed to suspend plans to build a new facility on Wayside Inn Road after neighbors worried the development would ruin the road’s historic quality. Now, Burtt said a new option opened up that wasn’t available when the society first scouted locations for a new building.

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News Round Up: best and worst of no particular date range

Sorry I’ve been gone for a while! Moving proved to be a huge feat, that’s still settling down. Without further ado, here’s a recap of some of the things I’ve read in the past few weeks:

Who is a Journalist?: In this Al Jazeera Opinion piece, Sarah Kendzior argues that only the rich can become journalists in today’s age. Sparked by Congress’ decision that only affiliated journalists are protected under shield laws, Kendzior argues internships and J-school tuition block many from the fourth estate. As a fresh-out-of-school, working (for pay) journalist, I think Kendzior’s piece is largely untrue. The landscape of work-for-free expectations and the dismal state of print journalism has certainly thrown up some roadblocks for journos, but it doesn’t mean only those who can afford to write while wearing mink can make it. Get a side job, freelance, get another side job, and keep going to school. It’s not possible for everybody, but certainly many people (and the majority of journalists I know) make it into the profession with humble backgrounds. The question of who deserves shield law protection still stands, but Kendzior’s argument does not.

The state of news today: After the Lebanon Daily News received a letter to the editor questioning the paper’s coverage and why the print edition always contained yesterday’s news, the editorial board composed an interesting reply that speaks for the state of news today. First, they explained that papers have always contained yesterday’s news, and only at the dawn of television and the internet did we start to expect instant information. Then, they continued to say that with a withered news room, the paper must focus on more than just print, but also online, photos, videos and social media. Now, news outlets have to report the news in many ways, making the reporter’s job three-fold (hey, after you write that, can you grab a video? And don’t forget to tweet!). Unlike the author of the letter, most people look for news in many places, and Lebanon Daily News is trying to fill all the roles. As the new WaPo owner Jeff Bezos recently said “I think printed newspapers on actual paper may be a luxury item. It’s sort of like, you know, people still have horses, but it’s not their primary way of commuting to the office.” I don’t know about luxury, but he might have the right idea.

Public Enemy: In one of the best long form pieces I’ve read in a while, Ben Austen chronicled how gang wars are spilling onto the internet, and vice versa. Using two Chicago rappers, Chief Keef and Lil JoJo as the basis, Austen shows how JoJo got killed because of twitter, and how Facebook “drillers” take internet drama to new heights. This was not only a fascinating and grabbing piece, but so rife with personality and detail, obviously showing Austen’s talent as a narrative writer. Important subject matter, important writer, important read. And, of course, if it’s happening, we’re studying it in Boston. Recently a University of Michigan professor reached out to MIT to help with his study of gang violence on social media and its link to some social problems, as told in this Boston Magazine article .

300 Sandwiches: In technical terms, this article and idea suck. New York Post writer Stephanie Smith is on a mission to get her boyfriend to marry her, which he promised he would if she made him 300 sandwiches. I have no smart words about this because UGH really? I understand that every couple is different. I am also not against making anybody any number of sandwiches. I also understand the value of a joke. However, the problem lies here: “Each morning, he would ask, ‘Honey, how long you have been awake?’ ‘About 15 minutes,’ I’d reply. ‘You’ve been up for 15 minutes and you haven’t made me a sandwich?'” Or, if he doesn’t like a sandwich, it doesn’t count. Or, even if she is tired and overworked when she gets home, he still expects her to make him a sandwich above basic pb&j level. There’s a power dynamic here that does not bode well for a marriage. Ultimately, it’s her choice, but from her article, it sounds more like an obligation.