ENGAGING IDEAS - 04/27/2018

Every week we curate stories and reports on complex issues. This week: A look at Americans' views on the country's political system. Breaking the cycle of intergenerational poverty. Proposal for an independent education watchdog. Examining the lack of women in America's corridors of power. A Massachusetts health care bill that highlights some limitations with price transparency.


Key findings on Americans’ views of the U.S. political system and democracy (Pew)
As part of a year-long effort to study “Facts, Trust and Democracy” Pew Research Center has conducted a major survey of public views of the U.S. political system and American democracy. The survey finds that while Americans are in broad agreement on important ideals relating to democracy in the U.S., they think the nation is falling short in realizing many of these ideals.

American politics is tribal. Are we ready to admit that? (The Guardian)
While Americans like to think that they transcend tribal thinking, Amy Chua’s new book argues that this is far from the case.

The Reinvention of America (The Atlantic)
Americans don’t realize how fast the country is moving toward becoming a better version of itself.


Why HUD Wants to Raise the Rent (CityLab)
A new bill is aimed at reducing long waits for federal assistance and increasing “self-sufficiency.”

Breaking the tragic cycle of intergenerational poverty (Deseret News)
Historically, most Americans have been able to achieve economic stability. The United States’ economic system has traditionally provided opportunity for determined, hardworking people to climb the ladder of stability and success. There is a pervasive feeling, however, that strong barriers to upward mobility have increased in today’s economy.

Public Servants Are Losing Their Foothold in the Middle Class (New York Times)
The anxiety and seething anger that followed the disappearance of middle-income jobs in factory towns has helped reshape the American political map and topple longstanding policies on tariffs and immigration.


This Small Southern City Is the Most Innovative in the Country (Governing)
Fayetteville, N.C., earned the top honors in the annual Equipt to Innovate report, a joint study from Governing and the nonprofit Living Cities.

Creating Spaces for People to Participate in Urban Planning (Next City)
Sometimes it takes leaving and returning home to realize what it is that truly makes us tick. Luisa Santos grew up in Miami and returned there after graduating from Amherst College. She got to work as program coordinator for an environmental service-learning program, and also got connected with the Miami Climate Alliance, a coalition of environmental organizations.

CivEd Talks – Doing Civic Engagement through a Wicked Problems Lens: The Case for Passionate Impartiality (EJournal Of Public Affairs)
Martin Carcasson made the case for taking a “wicked problems” perspective on tough issues to work toward improving the quality of public discourse and building the necessary civic skill sets and mindsets in our students.


Genes and environment have equal influence in learning for rich and poor kids, study finds (Salon.com)
A new study suggests that class may not affect their learning as much as previously believed.

‘They are so underpaid’: School support staff scrape by on meager earnings (The Washington Post)
They are often the essence of a school: the staff members who care for children with disabilities, who cook the food and clean the floors and tutor young readers. But as teachers in this state stood on the front lines of a two-week walkout that left classrooms empty, school support workers remained on the sidelines — and, sometimes, still toiled in schools because, unlike teachers, there would be no pay if they did not show up.

D.C. Council members propose independent education watchdog (Washington Post)
A majority of D.C. Council members are calling for the creation of an independent watchdog empowered to make sure the city’s schools rely on sound data as they emerge from a torrent of scandals.

Higher Ed/Workforce

Colleges are using consultants to manipulate student loan default rates, GAO says (Washington Post)
Fearing they could lose access to federal student loans and grants, colleges and universities hire consultants to keep student loan defaults in check. But these advisers too often encourage borrowers to temporarily postpone payments, rather than enroll in plans that would manage their debt long-term — a strategy that skews the default data and threatens the financial health of borrowers, according to a study released Thursday by the U.S. Government Accountability Office.

The Top Jobs Where Women Are Outnumbered by Men Named John (The Upshot, New York Times)
In the corridors of American power, it can be as easy to find a man named John as it is to find a woman.

Seeking Rural Applicants and Perhaps Ideological Diversity (Inside Higher Ed)
Warren Wilson sees success in part of strategy to make campus more welcoming to conservative students. Swarthmore expands recruiting.

Health Care

Colorado’s big idea for lowering health care prices is more transparency. Here’s why some think that won’t work. (Denver Post)
Could a new bill that requires hospitals to reveal all their pricing secrets actually cause prices to rise?

This bill will control health care costs and protect California patients (Sacramento Bee)
Health care prices are just too high. Last month when Attorney General Xavier Becerra sued Sutter Health, one of California’s largest hospital chains, for anti-competitive practices and prices, he pointed to a problem not just with one provider, but to out-of-control health care pricing.

Why “Skin in the Game” Turns Out To Be Not Enough to Motivate Consumers to Check Healthcare Prices (Healthcare Informatics)
An experiment in Massachusetts reveals the limitations of offering consumers provider pricing information.


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