ENGAGING IDEAS - 02/2/2018

Every week we curate stories and reports on complex issues. This week: A look at some of the most politically polarizing brands in the country. Despite a strong economy and low levels of unemployment, Trump is still widely unpopular. Why? Many don't care for his persona. What Amazon, Buffett and Chase's new health care company signals for insurance providers.


State of the Union 2018: Americans’ views on key issues facing the nation (Pew Research Center)
Here is a look at public opinion on important issues facing the country, drawn from the Center’s recent surveys

America Is Not a Democracy (The Atlantic)
How the United States lost the faith of its citizens—and what it can do to win them back

Here are the most politically polarizing brands in America (Mashable)
A survey from Morning Consult published Thursday identified some of the most polarizing brands in America based on party affiliation. Brands that were once seen as studiously neutral have become explosively divisive. Even chain pizza, the last bipartisan cultural good in America, has found a way to step into the political ring.


Majorities Say Government Does Too Little for Older People, the Poor and the Middle Class (Pew Research)
Majorities of Americans say the federal government does not provide enough help for older people (65%), poor people (62%) and the middle class (61%). By contrast, nearly two-thirds (64%) say the government provides too much help for wealthy people.

Just like India, America has its own caste system (Quartz)
As an India-born novelist and scholar who teaches in the US, I have come to see America’s stratified society through a different lens: caste.

Americans Haven’t Been This Poor and Indebted in Decades (New York Magazine)
Americans actually give Trump’s handling of the economy a positive approval rating — but dislike his handling of the presidency, nonetheless.


Commentary: Transparent Meeting Laws May Actually Discourage Public Participation (Door County Pulse)
It seems counterintuitive, but how and when local elected officials are allowed to communicate with one another regarding government business can often lead to decreased public participation during meetings.

City Challenges: Collaborative Governing for Public Problem Solving (Forbes)
City Councilmember Graciela Reyes was elected as one of Mexico’s first independent councillors for the Municipality of San Pedro, an affluent mid-sized community of about 150,000 outside the Mexican city of Monterrey about two hours from Texas. With the backing of the Mayor, Reyes launched the Desafíos or Challenges program on October 8, 2016 to invite the public to collaborate in the creation of better policies and services with the municipality.

Limit public speakers to 2 minutes? Citizen activists and Napa supervisors say 'no way' (Napa Valley Register)
Citizen activists want to make certain the Napa County Planning Commission hears them loud-and-clear on controversial Wine Country growth issues. They are afraid the fine print in proposed Planning Commission bylaw changes threatens to unduly limit public participation. And, while Napa County supervisors see no attempt to undermine democracy, they too have concerns.


How does limited education limit young people? (Science Daily)
A recent nationally-representative U.S. Department of Education study found that 28 percent of fall 2009 ninth-graders had not yet enrolled in a trade school or college by February 2016 -- roughly six-and-a-half years later.

The Outdated Study That Education Reformers Keep Citing (The Atlantic)
Mark Zuckerberg and others continue to tout the potential of personalized learning, pointing to decades-old research that’s been practically impossible to duplicate.

What the marketplace for classroom lessons says about the state of K-12 education (TrustED)
As school choice creates more alternatives to public schools, many public districts are adopting business-minded strategies—think marketing, branding, and customer experience. Now, it appears that teachers are following suit.

Higher Ed/Workforce

3 Million Americans Live in Higher Education Deserts (Inside Higher Education)
Roughly three million Americans live more than 25 miles from a broad-access public college and do not have the sort of high-speed internet connection necessary for online college programs, according to a new report from the Urban Institute's education policy program.

College Endowments Rose 12.2% in Fiscal 2017, Reversing Decline (Wall Street Journal)
Solid performance doesn’t end worries about long-term returns, as many schools brace for new tax

Many for-profit schools don't live up to hype, take funds for little benefit (Herald-Whig)
Remarks from U.S. Senator Dick Durbin- Every day, Illinois students are bombarded with advertising from for-profit colleges on social media, the internet and television. These advertisements promise fast enrollment, easily accessible financial aid and flexible course schedules. They often claim that their graduates go on to high-paying jobs and successful futures.

Health Care

If Amazon And Buffett Lift Veil On Health Prices, Insurers Are In Trouble (Forbes)
Jeff Bezos’ Amazon and Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway are forming their own healthcare company with JPMorgan Chase to increase transparency for their employees, and that could be bad news for insurers and pharmacy benefit managers.

Bipartisan Bill Would Increase Competition Among Drug Manufacturers and Lower Drug Prices (Commonwealth Fund)
Congress is considering including bipartisan legislation that could expedite the availability of lower-priced generic drugs in its must-pass bill to fund the federal government in 2018. The legislation, called the CREATES Act, tackles one of the numerous problems driving high drug prices — brand-name drug manufacturers’ use of anticompetitive tactics to block access to generic drugs.

After Months In Limbo For Children's Health Insurance, Huge Relief Over Deal (NPR)
When parts of the federal government ground to halt this past weekend, Linda Nablo, who oversees the Children's Health Insurance Program in Virginia, had two letters drafted and ready to go out to the families of 68,000 children insured through the program, depending on what happened.


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