ENGAGING IDEAS - 05/11/2018

Every week we curate stories and reports on complex issues. This week: Looking to international counterparts on solving partisan issues. A look at one man's journey from jail to stability. Exploring ways government officials can gain the public's trust. Four ways to increase civic engagement in grade-school students. A look at the quiet, yet growing, nursing shortage.


Stop saying the Trump era is ‘not normal’ or ‘not who we are.’ We’ve been here before. (Washington Post)
Review of 'The Soul of America' by Jon Meacham and 'Our Towns: A 100,000-Mile Journey Into the Heart of America' by James Fallows and Deborah Fallows.

Identity politics has veered away from its roots. It's time to bring it back (The Guardian)
A misuse of identity is not just a conservative problem – it affects well-meaning people on the left, too.

A Way to Get Beyond the Politics of Division (Governing)
We need to value problem solving over partisanship. There are lessons to be learned from international negotiations.


He went from jail to a $22-an-hour job. How can America get more stories like this? (Washington Post)
Brian Potaczek recently bought his first box of Girl Scout cookies, a small act full of meaning for the 31-year-old from just outside Phoenix. A few years ago, he was addicted to opioids and in jail. Today Potaczek is an electrician with a steady job, earning enough money to do what many middle-class Americans do: Buy Girl Scout cookies and take his mom out for coffee.

Gates Foundation Commits $158M To Economic Mobility (The Nonprofit Times)
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has committed $158 million over the next four years to identifying and breaking down barriers to domestic economic opportunity.

Income Inequality and ‘The Great Gatsby’ (The Market Mogul)
The years following the depression saw the inequality decline to a low of 8.9% of the total income being diverted towards the top 1%. The share of the even more elite 0.01% fell to an even lower 0.8%. However, these numbers seem to be on the rise.


Portland students want community to take bias seriously (Press Herald)
The school has received “several thousand dollars from a Nellie Mae grant to try to actualize (any) ideas that come out of the day,” he added. The community dialogue is also being used as a kick-off for the sophomores’ new Arc Towards Justice learning expedition, Pierce said.

Trust Government Citizens Equal Opportunities (Smart Cities Dive)
Cities must work hard to build trust with residents and manage their expectations when undertaking any projects, current and former government officials said at an event yesterday in Washington, DC.

Our Modern Congress Doesn't Understand 21st Century Technology (Tech Crunch)
Facebook is a business that sells social connection, its algorithms are made for targeted advertising. The data that we users provide via friends, likes and shares makes their model lucrative. But connecting a person to a pair of shoes cannot be the same engagement algorithm that we use to build a cohesive democratic society.


Four Ways to Put Civics Education Front and Center for Elementary Students (Education Week)
What comes to mind when you think of civics? You might recall a dusty discussion of checks and balances or the branches of the U.S. government. While these are essential topics, teaching civics is also about imparting principles and values that inform daily life, guiding students to develop into thoughtful and caring adults.

A $24 million New York City program was supposed to prepare more black and Latino men for college. But a new study found it didn’t. (Chalkbeat)
After four years and $24 million, the program has not lived up to its promise, according to a report released Wednesday by the Research Alliance for New York City Schools. Schools in the program turned out to be no better at preparing young men of color for college or helping them enroll than a group of similar schools that didn’t receive extra support.

Free school lunch for all, meant to reduce stigma, may also keep students healthier (Chalkbeat)
In 2015, two Obama cabinet secretaries encouraged schools to try a new way of handling free lunch: give it to everyone, no family paperwork required. Now, a new study suggests the program succeeded on one dimension, making students in at least one state slightly healthier in the process.

Higher Ed/Workforce

US universities invest in student entrepreneurship (Christian Science Monitor)
Almost half of all universities now have some sort of incubator or accelerator program to support student entrepreneurs. As venture capitalists invest heavily in entrepreneurs and the gig economy continues to grow, these programs have nurtured skills and created jobs.

Free textbooks? Federal government is on track with a pilot program. (Washington Post)
The federal government’s first major investment in the free use of textbooks remains on track, Sen. Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.) said Monday in a letter examining a pilot program by the Education Department.

Degrees Without Debt (U.S. News & World Report)
Many students in Utah would rather reduce their credit hours or drop out than amass educational loans, experts say.

Health Care

Creating an Affordable Health Care System Requires More than Rounding Up the Usual Suspects (Forbes)
Health care is becoming less affordable every year. Over the past 10 years, national healthcare expenditures have grown 45 percent, but our economy has grown only 28 percent.

Transparency on quality and price will transform medicine (Stat News)
Transparency is becoming a fashionable buzzword in many walks of life. In health care, it is rearranging the relationships between patients and those who care for them.

The quiet nursing shortage threatening our health care system (Denver Post)
With plenty of applicants to fill much needed positions, an educational bottleneck creates big holes


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