ENGAGING IDEAS - 05/18/2018

Every week we curate stories and reports on complex issues. This week: Nonpartisan group looks to limit big money in politics. Questioning why Blacks and Hispanics are arrested for marijuana charges at higher rates than other racial groups. Is participatory budgeting the answer to civic engagement issues? A look at one higher ed institution that's leading the way for Black economic mobility.


What Democracies Can Learn From Malaysia (The Atlantic)
Is it possible that the United States and Europe might learn something from Malaysia, a country long seen as a flawed semi-democracy?

Nonpartisan group aims to limit big money in politics (Boston Herald)
American Promise, a Mass­achusetts-based, nonpartisan organization founded to mobilize national support for a constitutional amendment addressing the out-of-control dominance of money over our political system, summarizes the problem in a new report titled “Government of Citizens, Not Money.”

Beyond just “literate,” how can you help news consumers be “news fluent”? (Nieman Lab)
News literacy is so last decade: Journalists and audiences need to focus on news fluency now, suggests a report from the American Press Institute.


Millennial women say dismal economy is preventing them from having children (Salon)
A historic drop in the fertility rate was partly due to millennial and GenX women struggling to make ends meet.

What the Future of Affordable Housing Already Looks Like (CityLab)
Affordable housing construction seems eternally scant in the U.S. If that ever changes, a new exhibit about the other side of the Atlantic Ocean has a few design ideas to share.

Surest Way to Face Marijuana Charges in New York: Be Black or Hispanic (The New York Times)
The police explanation that more black and Hispanic people are arrested on marijuana charges because complaints are high in their neighborhoods doesn’t hold up to scrutiny.


Is Participatory Budgeting the Answer to Cities’ Biggest Questions? (Government Technology)
Local governments have always let residents participate in the political process, but some are finding direct engagement is the way to answer difficult funding questions.

Partnerships, Collaboration a Consistent Theme in Illinois (Government Technology)
At the first-ever Chicago Digital Government Summit, chief information officers from Chicago, Cook County and elsewhere discussed why collaboration works and how to make it happen.

Is the United States Too Big to Govern? (New York Times)
What if trust in American democracy is eroding because the nation has become too big to be effectively governed through traditional means? With a population of more than 325 million and an enormously complex society, perhaps this country has passed a point where — no matter whom we elect — it risks becoming permanently dissatisfied with legislative and governmental performance.


Can a Business Exec Save One of the Largest School Districts in America? (Governing )
Austin Beutner, the new leader of Los Angeles schools, is the latest big-city superintendent with no education experience. Some say that -- and his ties to charter schools -- are cause for concern.

National program brings American Indian culture to Native students (Christian Science Monitor)
Under the Title VII Indian Education program, schools around the country can infuse workshops on indigenous culture into their curricula. In Utah, the program has helped students perform better in school, especially for those who are American Indian.

Teacher Activists Take Fight to the Polls (Education Week)
With many legislative sessions now wrapping up—and with teachers' core demands on pay and funding still unmet in some places—union and activist-group leaders in states such as Arizona, Colorado, Kentucky, and West Virginia are telling teachers and their supporters they need to keep the pressure on.

Higher Ed/Workforce

Don’t know the graduate next to you? You’re not alone. One-third of students take at least one class online. (Washington Post)
The expansion of online education has coincided with concerns about the price of brick-and-mortar education. And it has arrived as much improved technology gives time-pressed, place-bound adults the flexibility to earn a degree.

Georgia State, Leading U.S. in Black Graduates, Is Engine of Social Mobility (New York Times)
Georgia State, once seen as a night school for white businessmen, has reshaped itself amid a moral awakening and a raft of data-driven experimentation.

Health Care

With Feds' Approval, Vermont Could Be First State to Import Prescription Drugs From Canada (Governing)
Vermont Republican Gov. Phil Scott Wednesday signed legislation making his state the first to legalize importing prescription drugs from Canada, an idea President Donald Trump's top health officials oppose that's also drawn fierce opposition from the pharmaceutical industry.

Healthcare, freelanced: Where will gig economy workers get coverage? (Reuters)
There are plenty of problems lurking on America’s career ladder, but here is a big one: our healthcare systems are designed for the workforce of 1950.

'Human Frailty' Is a Byproduct of Mass Incarceration (The Atlantic)
In his new book Homeward, Harvard University professor Bruce Western explores what it’s like to reenter society after prison—and uncovers an epidemic of illness and mortality.


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