ENGAGING IDEAS - 05/04/2018

Every week we curate stories and reports on complex issues. This week: Should we replace politicians with experts? Is there a private sector solution to the affordable housing crisis? Examining the effects of tech on democracy and engagement. There's a new wave of foreign workers coming to the U.S. - teachers. A worsening state of economic affairs for the higher ed sector. Maine's bipartisan solution to health care costs.


Why replacing politicians with experts is a reckless idea (The Guardian)
In the age of Trump and Brexit, some people say that democracy is fatally flawed and we should be ruled by ‘those who know best’. Here’s why that’s not very clever.

Facebook Can Still Save American Democracy From Itself (Fast Company)
Scapegoating Facebook for the ills of U.S. governance ultimately won’t get America anywhere.

The Public, the Political System and American Democracy (Pew)
At a time of growing stress on democracy around the world, Americans generally agree on democratic ideals and values that are important for the United States. But for the most part, they see the country falling well short in living up to these ideals.


Manufacturing jobs: Implications for productivity and inequality (Brookings)
Declining shares of manufacturing jobs in overall employment have been a concern for policymakers for years in advanced and some developing economies.

The Truth About Affordable Housing in Our Backyards (Next City)
Despite its place as the proverbial battleground between pro-development YIMBYs and anti-development NIMBYs, the literal backyard is, increasingly, common ground.

Private-Sector Solution to Affordable Housing Gets Off the Ground (Wall Street Journal)
Effort would boost land trusts, which acquire land and buildings in relatively affordable areas and sell homes to low- and middle-income families.


Madrid as a place of democratic innovation (Open Democracy)
An exuberant ecosystem of citizen practices and self-managed spaces has turned Madrid into an international reference of the urban commons

Does digital democracy improve democracy? (Open Democracy)
The effects of the digital world on politics and society are still difficult to measure, and the speed with which these new technological tools evolve is often faster than a scholar’s ability to assess them, or a policymaker’s capacity to make them fit into existing institutional designs.


Teacher Pay Is So Low in Some U.S. School Districts That They’re Recruiting Overseas (New York Times)
As walkouts by teachers protesting low pay and education funding shortfalls spread across the country, the small but growing movement to recruit teachers from overseas is another sign of the difficulty some districts are having providing the basics to public school students.

Everyone’s talking about the Upper West Side desegregation plan, but few families would be affected by it (Chalkbeat)
Under the plan, which is aimed at making schools more diverse, at least a quarter of seats at the district’s 16 middle schools would be offered to students with low scores on state math and English exams.

About 1,800 TNReady tests invalidated after students take wrong test for their grade (Chalkbeat)
In the latest glitch in Tennessee’s beleaguered online testing system, a “poorly designed feature” caused about 1,800 TNReady exams to be invalidated statewide.

Higher Ed/Workforce

The financial forecast for colleges is gloomy. How can they weather the storm? (Washington Post)
As another academic year winds down on campuses nationwide, the news about the financial underpinning of colleges and universities keeps getting worse. Two studies out in the past week show that key revenue sources at public and private universities continue to shrink without any immediate signs of slowing.

Harvard agrees to negotiate a contract with graduate-student union (Washington Post)
Harvard University agreed Tuesday to negotiate its first contract with teaching and research assistants, a victory for graduate students who have fought for years to gain a seat at the bargaining table.

High-Paying Trade Jobs Sit Empty, While High School Grads Line Up For University (NPR)
While a shortage of workers is pushing wages higher in the skilled trades, the financial return from a bachelor's degree is softening, even as the price — and the average debt into which it plunges students — keeps going up.

Health Care

How States Can Begin Cutting the Costs of Health Care (Governing)
The only way to achieve the goal of affordable health care for all Americans is to cut the cost of care. Unfortunately, neither the Democrats' Affordable Care Act nor the GOP's failed American Health Care Act made great strides towards that goal.

Seniors are the health care industry's gold rush (Axios)
Health care companies are rushing to buy or invest in areas that focus on the elderly population, as baby boomers are reaching an age when they require more health care services.

Has Maine found a bipartisan solution to easing health care costs? (Boston Globe)
Might we ever see a bipartisan health care bill that addresses costs and receives unanimous legislative support? Although one emanating from Washington seems unlikely anytime soon, an innovative bipartisan health care bill — referred to as Right to Shop — unanimously passed the Maine Legislature in 2017 and merits a closer look.


The Public, the Political System and American Democracy

Submitted by: Charles Bray on Saturday, May 5th, 2018

We need to continue the dialogue on our political differences and perspectives. Data like this gives us a place to begin. We need a health political forum to begin the conversation, most likely on a local level.

Comment on this article.

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