ENGAGING IDEAS - 04/20/2018

Every week we curate stories and reports on complex issues. This week: Looking at how technology can impact democracy. How rising housing costs can threaten financial security. Imagining a system where democracy is fueled by by personalized digital agents. A new study that suggests schools can do more to encourage engagement in students. Looking at whether health care should be put on a budget like other personal expenses.


Our democracy is broken. Why can't technology fix it? (Engadget)
Outdated election mechanisms like the Electoral College and potential interference from hostile foreign powers aside, Americans have historically proven themselves reticent to participate in choosing their leaders.

The populist challenge to liberal democracy (Brookings)
For those who believe in liberal democracy, it is sobering to review the events of the past quarter-century. Twenty-five years ago, liberal democracy was on the march.

The echo chamber has destroyed faith in our American democracy (The Hill)
American history often has its moments of tumult and discord. There is no greater a breach in our body politic than the years of the Civil War. The era of the Gilded Age laid bare the gap between our nation’s haves and have nots. The events of 1968 which we now commemorate looking back 50 years — the Tet Offensive, the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. and the rioting in American cities — all laid bare political, societal and racial strife that had been unresolved and echoes to this day.


American Families Face a Growing Rent Burden (Pew)
High housing costs threaten financial security and put homeownership out of reach for many.

The world’s economists can’t wait to get their hands on US tax returns (Quartz)
Over the past three months, about 150 million US households have filed their taxes. In doing so, they didn’t just fund the US government and fill the coffers of H&R Block and Turbotax. They also participated in the creation of one of the world’s most important datasets—numbers that have changed what we know about the state of the American Dream.

Is Housing Inequality the Main Driver of Economic Inequality? (City Lab)
A growing body of research suggests that inequality in the value of Americans’ homes is a major factor—perhaps the key factor—in the country’s economic divides.


Managing Citizen Engagement Overload (Governing)
The government gets more feedback than it can handle. In part, that's because public-sector leaders have asked for it. Public officials want increased citizen engagement.

Event spurs local momentum for participatory budgeting (Bike Portland)
Last Saturday over 100 people from around the region gathered at the Rosewood Initiative in East Portland for an event that could have significant implications for government budgeting in the region — including the allocation of transportation funds.

This Plan For An AI-Based Direct Democracy Outsources Votes To A Predictive Algorithm (Fast Company)
MIT Media Lab’s Cesar Hidalgo imagines a system of direct democracy fueled by personalized digital agents that vote on issues for us.


Can schools encourage students to be more involved citizens? A new study suggests yes they can. (Chalkbeat)
The study, conducted by independent researchers commissioned by Democracy Prep, took advantage of New York City’s charter school admissions rules to examine the impact of applying to, getting accepted to, and enrolling in the network’s schools on later civic participation.

Dual language charter schools attract the longest waiting lists in D.C.(Washington Post)
The D.C. Public Charter School Board released waitlist data Tuesday for the 2018-2019 academic year. The data shows that dual language and Montessori-style schools are in high demand. Six of the 10 schools with the longest waiting lists, including Mundo Verde Bilingual and DC Bilingual, are known as dual language schools.

25-Year-Old Textbooks and Holes in the Ceiling: Inside America’s Public Schools (New York Times)
Teacher protests have spread rapidly from West Virginia to Oklahoma, Kentucky and Arizona in recent months. We invited America’s public school educators to show us the conditions that a decade of budget cuts has wrought in their schools. We heard from 4,200 teachers. Here is a selection of the submissions, condensed and edited for clarity.

Higher Ed/Workforce

Out of poverty, into the middle class (Hechinger Report)
As automation disrupts the labor market and good middle-class jobs disappear, schools are struggling to equip students with future-proof skills

Trump administration streamlining student debt forgiveness for permanently disabled veterans (Washington Post)
The Trump administration announced plans Monday to make it easier for permanently disabled military veterans to have their federal student debt wiped away.

Where Colleges Recruit … and Where They Don't (Inside Higher Education)
New study finds that colleges go where students are likely to be white and wealthy.

Health Care

Humana dives into value-based care for maternity health (Fierce Healthcare)
Humana is moving further into the value-based payment market with an announcement that it is contracting with physician practices for a bundled-payment model for maternity care.

Pioneer study: Despite better tools, consumers still aren't shopping for health care (Boston Business Journal)
A new report has found that though insurers are doing a better job providing cost estimates for their members, consumers still aren’t all that interested in shopping for their health care.

Would Americans Accept Putting Health Care on a Budget? (The Upshot)
If you wanted to get control of your household spending, you’d set a budget and spend no more than it allowed. You might wonder why we don’t just do the same for spending on American health care.


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