Engaging Ideas - 12/22/2017

Every week we curate stories and reports on complex issues. This week: Exploring why Americans appear to be more tolerant of inequality than inhabitants of other countries. A look at how four different households will be impacted under the new tax bill. Questioning whether elected officials can legally delete comments on social media. A look at whether a single-payer health system works in the United States.


How Battles Over Sex, Gender And Sexual Orientation 'Fractured American Politics (NPR)
Moral Combat author R. Marie Griffith says the fight for women's suffrage and legal birth control in the early 20th century helped create a political divide in the U.S. that still exists today.

Sharing the News in a Polarized Congress (Pew)
Partisan and ideological divides shape which news outlets legislators share links to on Facebook.

Don't Like American Politics? Change the Rules (USA Today)
The one thing everyone seems to agree on these days is that American politics is broken. Washington has become so polarized that legislators can’t seem to have a productive dialogue, let alone pass legislation. This may seem like a hopeless situation, but our problems are not as intractable as you may think. We’ve just been looking for solutions in the wrong places.


Bussed Out: How America Moves Its Homeless (The Guardian)
Each year, US cities give thousands of homeless people one-way bus tickets out of town. An 18-month nationwide investigation by the Guardian reveals, for the first time, what really happens at journey’s end.

Why is America More Tolerant of Inequality Than Many Rich Countries (The Economist)
Most Americans are unenthusiastic about Republicans’ efforts to reward the richest with the biggest tax cuts. In polls taken on the eve of a vote on the government's tax bill in the Senate on December 2nd only between a quarter and a third of voters supported the plan. But in general Americans seem more willing than the inhabitants of other rich countries to tolerate inequality.

How 4 Different Households Would Fare Under the GOP Tax Bill (CBS)
Here's a look at how four hypothetical households will fare. These examples are simplified, and don't include the effects on payroll taxes -- those paid on the first $118,000 of income to fund Medicare and Social Security.


Can Elected Officials Censor Their Critics on Social Media (Government Technology)
Georgia politicians are facing legal questions around whether or not they can delete comments and block users on public social media pages.

Government Leaders Report Feeling Overwhelmed by Demands of Civic Engagement (State Scoop)
New survey results show that managing the data and expectations of their communities is often more than than government officials are ready for.


Majority of Teachers Say Reforms Have Been 'Too Much' (Education Week)
The majority of teachers say they’ve faced major changes—related to what and how they teach, as well as how they’re evaluated—over the last couple of years in their schools and districts, according to a recent survey by the Education Week Research Center.

Gates Foundation Announces New $1.7B for K-12 (Education Week)
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation announced a new investment of $1.7 billion for K-12 education over the next five years, with the bulk of the funding aimed at existing traditional public schools that show progress in improving educational outcomes, the development of new curricula, charter schools focused on students with special needs, and “research and development” for scalable models that could inform best practices.

How Does New York Set Education Policy? An Inside Look at the Mad Dash to Make Sense of a Major Diploma Change (Chalkbeat)
Monday’s vote is an extreme example of the way New York’s education decision-makers often craft potentially controversial policies behind the scenes, then reveal them to the public shortly before they’re approved — leaving little time for debate.

Higher Ed/Workforce

Debate Continues on Nursing Degrees (Inside Higher Education)
A proposed policy statement has reignited the question of whether the associate or bachelor's degree should be the entry-level requirement in the nursing profession.

Use of Free Textbooks Is Rising, But Barriers Remain (The Chronicle of Higher Education)
A growing number of professors are replacing the traditional textbook with an openly licensed one, according to a survey released on Tuesday. But their overall numbers remain small — and widespread adoption of the practice could remain out of reach unless key barriers are overcome.

Final Tax Bill Would Spare Some Higher-Ed Worries, But Could Lead to State Budget Cuts (The Chronicle of Higher Education)
The Republican-backed tax overhaul is headed for final floor votes in Congress without some of the measures that would directly target higher education. Notably, a proposed tax on tuition waivers for graduate students and other college employees is no longer in the compromise legislation. But a high-profile tax on the investment earnings of some of the largest college endowments stayed in the bill.

Health Care

Poll Says US Citizens Worry Most About Health Care (Christian Science Monitor)
A poll by The Associated Press shows that Americans on both sides of the aisle are concerned about health care and doubt the government will be able to fix it. The battle over Obamacare that ended in a draw has Americans concerned that a fix in the near future is not likely.

Looking North: Can A Single-Payer Health System Work in the U.S.? (Kaiser Health News)
"The Canadian system is not perfect. Neither is the United States’,” Cram said over coffee in Toronto’s Kensington Market. “Anyone who gives you a sound bite and says this system should be adopted by this country … I think they’re being almost disingenuous.” Still, American support for government-run, single-payer health care, once a fringe opinion, is picking up momentum.

Empowering New Yorkers with Quality Measures that Matter to Them (NYS Health)
This NYSHealth-funded report by United Hospital Fund’s Quality Institute explores the disconnect between the quality measurement field and the information patients find most meaningful to make informed health care decisions.


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