ENGAGING IDEAS - 02/9/2018

Every week we curate stories and reports on complex issues. This week: A look at how Trump’s immigration policies compare with other proposals. Nine cities with the largest wealth gaps. The role social media plays in small communities. Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation shift focus to school curriculums and the teaching materials used in schools. A look at new legislation that calls for applying to colleges a requirement for graduation. How rising health care costs can impact your retirement.


How a Nazi Made the Ballot in Illinois (The Atlantic)
The strange candidacy of Arthur Jones points to failures of democratic safeguards on every level.

Americans are getting smarter about politics in at least one important way (Washington Post)
American politics may be more polarized today than at any time in the postwar period. While this fact is commonly lamented, it has had one arguably beneficial side effect: Americans have become better at identifying where the presidential candidates stand relative to each other — a task that has long challenged voters.

CHART: How Trump's Immigration Proposal Compares With Other Plans (NPR)
Many major news stories have centered around immigration — and more specifically, Washington's inability to agree on what to do as President Trump's deadline to end the Obama administration's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (or DACA) policy fast approaches.


9 American cities with the worst income inequality (CBS News)
The divergence between rich and poor is growing in some regions, creating affordability problems and straining fiscal budgets.

How American Inequality in the Gilded Age Compares to Today (Time)
While the original Gilded Age inspired a wave of political change, from the first march on Washington to the rise of the Populists, its fallout did not lead to the end of inequality in the United States. As Painter tells TIME, there have been several major cycles of inequality in the U.S. since then.

The World Class Poverty in America’s Booming Economy (Nonprofit Quarterly)
Over the first two weeks of December, Professor Philip Alston, United Nations Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, visited the United States. His findings, perhaps surprising, painted a very disturbing picture as he compared how the US, one of the world’s wealthiest nations, compares to other developed nations.


Opinion: Giving Outsiders More Power Can Help Grant Makers Solve Problems (Chronicle of Philanthropy)
Philanthropy is many things, but at the core, it’s people making decisions about money.

A People’s Democracy in America (Project Syndicate)
Trust in political parties is at new lows. And amid all the dismay and dysfunction, some of the new plutocrats have stepped up as philanthropists to underwrite social reform. Yes, it all sounds like Trump-era America. But these conditions also prevailed more than a century ago, during the Progressive Era of the early 1900s.

In Smaller Communities, Social Media Plays a Big Role (Government Technology)
In Pennsylvania’s smaller townships, social media is filling the gap between the government and citizens.


With new focus on curriculum, Gates Foundation wades into tricky territory (Chalkbeat)
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has a new plan intended to help public schools: improve the materials that teachers use to teach.

Not One-Size-Fits-All (US News & World Report)
Charter school laws grant innovative educators freedom from many rules and regulations to design their own programs. But that freedom comes with a commitment – at the risk of being shut down – to improve outcomes and opportunities for students.

Graduation Rate Made Little Progress, State Says (New York Times)
The high school graduation rate in New York State barely budged last year, inching up just half a percentage point, according to data released Wednesday by the New York State Education Department. According to the department, 80.2 percent of public school students graduated on time.

Higher Ed/Workforce

Taking a cut of student’s future paychecks has Silicon Valley investors funding education (qz.com)
Although not as favorable as most federally-subsidized loans (which offer income-adjusted repayment plans and loan forgiveness), ISAs essentially allow students to pay for today’s tuition out of their future earnings.

‘The Tyranny of Metrics’ (Inside Higher Ed)
Author discusses new book on what he views as the dangers of an obsession with numbers in analyzing admissions, academic success, faculty productivity and more in higher education.

College Applications as High School Graduation Requirement (Inside Higher Education)
New Mexico legislation seeks to require high school students to apply to at least one college.

Health Care

Rising health costs and economic inequality may threaten your retirement (PBS)
The significance of what Kaiser found is how our widening economic inequality is creating divergent impacts of health inflation.

HCC: The 3-letter word that can build payer-provider trust and improve quality (Healthcare Dive)
As the shift toward value-based care and risk-based contracting progresses, it will become even more important for health plans and those who deliver care to collaborate.

Bill would require full transparency in health care pricing (The Daily Sentinel)
Rep. Mike Foote isn't known for running bills dealing with health care costs. But after the Lafayette Democrat was approached by a friend who wants to help lower medical costs by making all health care providers and insurance companies more fully disclose what they are charging, Foote couldn't resist.


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