Barely had Massachusetts voters cast the last *nay* vote on raising the charter cap, aka the Last Big Thing, than the Next Big Thing was sweeping the Bay State. I speak, of course of the zones of empowerment, that suddenly have everyone who is anyone talking. The experiment in school turn around-ing underway in Springfield, headed up by education reformer magnate Chris Gabrieli, is now in its second year and has already put up impressive numbers. No reader, not the measurable results that were the occasion for the takeover. I mean *buzz* as they say in the biz. There’s Boston Globe sage Scot Lehigh singing the Empowerment Zone’s praises. Now here’s Chris Gabrieli singing his own praises. Here’s Governor Baker giving the EZ a shout out and proposing a statewide expansion. Here’s the Globe editorial page echoing the Governor’s call. Now here’s the front page of the Globe reporting on the growing momentum behind the Empowerment Zone crusade. Oh, and here’s Representative Alice Peisch, fresh off her turn as lead flog-stress for the Last Big Thing, filing the *enabling legislation* that will empower the growth of zones across the land.
Close readers of all of this positively positive press will notice an, um, curious omission. Why is there no mention of whether the Empowerment Zone is actually doing the thing that was zoned to do: rapidly accelerate achievement, meaning test scores, at the EZ’s eight schools? You didn’t miss anything; there has been no rapid acceleration. When Governor Baker cited *positive results* in his State of the State address he was venturing into the land of, if not alternative facts, extremely wishful thinking. As Gabrieli conceded in a letter he sent to *interested parties,* *none of our schools reached our two-year goal of 50 median SGP in both English Language Arts The Next Big Thing – Have You Heard: