ENGAGING IDEAS - 07/27/2018

Every week we curate stories and reports on complex issues. This week: Exploring how Americans are thinking about polarization in politics. A look at how the economy is impacting the futures of millennials. Examining rural Americans' access, or lack of, to health care.


Do-It-Yourself Legislative Redistricting (New York Times)
A Michigan ballot initiative points the way to reforming gerrymandering, one of the most anti-democratic practices in American politics. Continue Reading

What's Good for Democracy Is Also Good for Democrats (New York Times)
While it is tempting to view elections as being decided in the moment, much of the groundwork is set in place decades earlier.
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Can the US Save Democracy Through Civics? (Pacific Standard)
A new poll shows that America's polarization problem is only getting worse.
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The media malpractice destroying American politics (Washington Post)
Mitt Romney wasn't unfairly maligned in 2012. But he was victim of a toxic media and political culture. Continue Reading


A conservative scholar questions whether the US really has an inequality problem (Quartz)
Scott Winship started his career as a moderate Democrat, believing in progressive solutions to the US's economic issues. After college, he worked at the liberal community organizing-group ACORN on a campaign to increase in the minimum wage.
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How the new economy leaves millennials saddled with debt and doubt (Washington Post)
What "Squeezed" adds to the picture is a keen understanding of the bewilderment, shame and self-doubt that millennial parents now feel as they are forced to reckon with the fallout of their choices and the betrayal of the American promise that each generation will do at least as well as, if not exceed the fortunes of, the previous one.
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Visualizing Change in One of America's Fastest-Growing Cities (Government Technology)
New tools are offering Seattle a glimpse at how to solve problems related to rapid expansion without compromising on inclusivity.
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An Experiment in Civic Engagement (Government Technology)
MIT researchers are trying something new to see if they can explain -- if not repair -- the relationship between the public and the government.
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Government-run citizens' academies educate people on local public affairs (American City and County)
Citizen engagement is an ever-present challenge in local government, but programs across the country are bringing citizens closer to government by educating them on its inner workings.
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Private Schools Are Becoming More Elite (The Atlantic)
The decline of Catholic schools is making independent education less accessible to middle- and lower-class students.
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No, private schools aren't better at educating kids than public schools. Why this new study matters. (Washington Post)
Despite evidence showing otherwise, it remains conventional wisdom in many parts of the education world that private schools do a better job of educating students, with superior standardized test scores and outcomes. It is one of the claims that some supporters of school choice make in arguing that the public should pay for private school education. The only problem? It isn't true, a new study confirms.
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The feds are discouraging districts from using race to integrate schools. A new study points to a potential downside (Chalkbeat)
The Trump administration recently made waves by removing Obama-era guidance that offered ways for school districts to consider students' race in order to diversify and integrate schools. The rollback could have harmful consequences for students, according to a new study.
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Higher Ed/Workforce

DeVos to Eliminate Rules Aimed at Abuses by For-Profit Colleges (The New York Times)
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos plans to eliminate regulations that forced for-profit colleges to prove that they provide gainful employment to the students they enroll, in what would be the most drastic in a series of moves that she has made to free the for-profit sector from safeguards put in effect during the Obama era.
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GAO Seeks Better Promotion of Loan Program for Black Colleges (The Washington Post)
Government watchdog also criticizes Education Department for failure to analyze cost and benefits of program
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Poll: Most Americans See Higher Ed Headed in Wrong Direction (Inside Higher Ed)
Democrats worry about tuition rates; Republicans say professors bring their politics into the classroom and colleges have excessive concern about shielding students from ideas they find offensive. Older Republicans are the most critical.
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Health Care

Why don't more people shop for health care? Online tools exist, but most don't use them (Chicago Tribune)
Though consumers have long bemoaned rising health care costs, few people shop for health care the way they might shop for a car, comparing prices. Some don't realize a procedure can cost tens of thousands of dollars more at one hospital versus another.
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Doctors and Health Workers Reflect on Rural America's Limited Access to Care (New York Times)
Medical professionals and health care industry workers describe the hardships involved in trying to provide care in rural areas.
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