ENGAGING IDEAS - 03/09/2018

Every week we curate stories and reports on complex issues. This week: Looking back to when the NRA supported both political parties. Examining inequality in America over the past 50 years. Imagining an education system in America without public schools. Using analytics to improve high school completion rates. Looking at whether incentivizing people to shop around for health care services decreases health care costs.


The Grim Conclusions of the Largest-Ever Study of Fake News (The Atlantic)
Falsehoods almost always beat out the truth on Twitter, penetrating further, faster, and deeper into the social network than accurate information.

Opinion- Something has happened to American discourse. And it could break our democracy (Sacramento Bee)
My greatest fear for the future of American democracy is the deep polarization of our society. A survey recently found that 11 percent of Americans would not want a family member to marry someone of a different race, but 40 percent would not want a family member to marry someone of a different political party. Last week, President Donald Trump’s approval rating among Democrats was five percent, but it was 80 percent among Republicans.

The NRA used to be a bipartisan campaign contributor, but that changed in 1994. Here's why (Los Angeles Times)
It may be hard to remember, but there was a time when the National Rifle Assn. was a bipartisan organization.


Majority in U.S. Satisfied With Opportunity to Get Ahead (Gallup)
Americans remain much more satisfied with the opportunity for economic mobility in the U.S. than they are with the distribution of economic outcomes, although their views of the former have changed significantly over the years.

The Rise and Fall of American Public Housing (City Lab)
Of all that came out of the mid-20th-century liberal consensus, perhaps nothing ended up so reviled as public housing.

Four Figures That Explain Inequality in America (Pacific Standard)
A new report looks at gaps in income, education, and wealth over the last 50 years.


Editorial: Whose government is it? (Times Union)
Mayor Kelly put together a ten-person commission made up entirely of city officials and employees — the city attorney, the commissioners of accounts, finance, public works and public safety, their deputies, and the deputy mayor. The most glaring problem goes to the very concept of democracy and self-governance.

From down under - When foreign policy leaves out public engagement (Khmer Times)
Failure to speak directly and with vigour to the Australian public about foreign policy and its future is a mistake, writes Nick Bisley.

Politicians are hiding how they spend money. That’s a political mistake. (Washington Post)
Meaningful debate around spending and revenue choices can happen only in countries where sufficient budget information is publicly available, and where citizens have opportunities to influence decisions.


Few black and Hispanic students receive admissions offers to New York City’s top high schools — again (Chalkbeat)
Four years and an entire chancellorship after Mayor Bill de Blasio promised to diversify New York City’s most elite high schools, the schools remain as stubbornly segregated as they were before he took office.

Top school choice group advising Puerto Rico on controversial efforts to expand charters and vouchers (Chalkbeat)
EdChoice, a group that backs school vouchers, is preparing to help Puerto Rico officials expand school choice, or what critics there have called “privatization.”

What If America Didn't Have Public Schools? (The Atlantic)
Imagining an entirely different educational system reveals some strengths—and flaws—of the current one

Higher Ed/Workforce

Global Boom in Private Enrollments (Inside Higher Ed)
One in three students globally is enrolled in private higher education institutions, according to research that reveals the huge growth and wide reach of private providers.

Education Department Plans 'Higher Education Ecosystem Challenge' (Inside Higher Education)
The U.S. Education Department last night announced that it would start a "Higher Education Ecosystem Challenge" this spring, inviting teams of colleges, companies, foundations and others to design and test a "truly student-centered ecosystem" to promote student learning.

Using analytics to improve graduation rates (The Chronicle of Higher Education)
Institutions are increasingly using data to identify key areas where students are succeeding and struggling with the goal of a completing a four-year degree.

Health Care

The Health-Care Gap Between Red and Blue America (The Atlantic)
States have a surprising degree of autonomy to block President Trump’s changes to Obamacare—and liberal-leaning states are already making their move.

Will incentivizing people to shop for lower priced tests, drugs whittle down America’s healthcare costs? (MedCity News)
Laurie Cook went shopping recently for a mammogram near her home in New Hampshire. Using an online tool provided through her insurer, she plugged in her ZIP code. Up popped facilities in her network, each with an incentive amount she would be paid if she chose it. Paid? To get a test? It’s part of a strategy to rein in health care spending by steering patients to the most cost-effective providers for non-emergency care.

Three doses of competition to reduce the soaring cost of health care (The Hill)
The cure for the high cost of health care is competition. Three steps should be taken now to increase competition and reduce prices.


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