ENGAGING IDEAS - 09/14/2018

Every week we curate stories and reports on complex issues. This week: Looking at the dwindling state of civic life in America. A look at how the financial crisis impacted wealth inequality in the country. A new app aimed at identifying politicians. Rethinking what gifted education means. A new lawsuit aimed at drug companies.


America's Slide Toward Autocracy (The Atlantic)
Democracy has taken a beating under President Trump. Will the midterms make a difference? Continue Reading

Republicans' Turn in the Barrel (Wall Street Journal)
With the last primary in New York this Thursday, the 2018 general election is fully under way. Let's take stock of the political landscape as the contest enters its final eight weeks. Continue Reading

Americans Aren't Practicing Democracy Anymore (The Atlantic)
As participation in civic life has dwindled, so has public faith in the country's system of government. Continue Reading


The Inequality Industry (The Nation)
Since 2008, wonks, politicians, poets, and bankers have all started talking about inequality. But are they interested in making us more equal? Continue Reading

Research: How the Financial Crisis Drastically Increased Wealth Inequality in the U.S. (Harvard Business Review)
We live in unequal times. The causes and consequences of widening disparities in income and wealth have become a defining debate of our age. Researchers have made major inroads into documenting trends in either income or wealth inequality in the United States, but we still know little about how the two evolve together - an important question to understand the causes of wealth inequality. Continue Reading

Queens College Ranked In Top 1% In Country For Upward Mobility
The results of a recent study, as reported on this week in the Chronicle of Higher Education, provides insight into how well Queens College is propelling students up the economic ladder. The Chronicle's list is drawn from Mobility Report Cards: The Role of Colleges in Intergenerational Mobility, the widely reported study in which a team led by former Stanford economics professor Raj Chetty assessed colleges' impact on social mobility. Continue Reading


In Chicago, The Obamas' Civic Engagement Programs Are In Action (NPR)
The Obama Foundation has raised more than a quarter of a billion dollars so far to build the Obama Presidential Center on Chicago's South Side. Key to the Foundation's mission are programs to train the next generation of civic leaders. Continue Reading

Civic engagement app launches facial recognition feature to identify politicians (Biometric Update)
An app has been launched for iPhone and Android which identifies public figures with facial recognition to improve civic engagement. The CVX Civic Engagement app's "Name to a Face" feature compares an image in a photo taken by the user to a database of public officials with AI and machine learning to identify prominent U.S. politicians. Continue Reading


Rethinking What Gifted Education Means, and Whom It Should Serve (New York Times)
Montgomery County is one of several districts that is successfully diversifying its gifted programs, in part by overhauling the admissions process and rethinking the fundamental mission of such programs. Continue Reading

Passing schools, struggling students: Colorado reconsiders its formula for rating schools (Chalkbeat)
The vast majority of Colorado schools and districts get a passing score from state regulators who track their performance. Yet fewer than half of Colorado third-graders meet state expectations in literacy and just 34 percent meet state expectations in math. Continue Reading

In latest move, Gates Foundation looks to help - and learn from - charters serving students with disabilities (Chalkbeat)
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation's new charter school strategy is taking shape. The foundation has made four grants in recent months focused on helping charter schools better serve students with disabilities. That's one of the ways Bill Gates said last fall that the influential foundation would focus its education giving over the next five years, along with efforts to grow networks of schools and improve curriculum. (The Gates Foundation is a supporter of Chalkbeat.) Continue Reading

Higher Ed/Workforce

Higher-education spending is falling (The Economist)
Universities are increasingly reliant on funds from the private sector. Continue Reading

Education Dept. Reopens Rutgers Case Charging Discrimination Against Jewish Students (New York Times)
The new head of civil rights at the Education Department has reopened a seven-year-old case brought by a Zionist group against Rutgers University, saying the Obama administration, in closing the case, ignored evidence that suggested the school allowed a hostile environment for Jewish students. Continue Reading

Colleges welcome first-year students by getting them thinking about jobs (Hechinger Report)
This new attention to career advising largely stems from growing expectations that institutions will help students get good jobs - which 85 percent of first-year students rated as "very important" among their reasons for going to college in the first place, according to a national survey conducted by an institute at UCLA. That's more than any other reason they considered "very important," including "to gain a general education and appreciation of ideas" and "to learn more about things that interest me." Continue Reading

Health Care

Hospitals sue HHS over 340B price transparency (Healthexec.com)
Hospital associations have launched a lawsuit that would prompt a court order to require drug companies to disclose the ceiling price for 340B drugs. Such requirements were already lawful under the Affordable Care Act, but the effective date has been delayed five times, according to the American Hospital Association. Continue Reading

Senators ask CMS to include opioid treatment in Medicare Advantage model (Modern Healthcare)
A bipartisan group of senators asked the CMS to expand the Medicare Advantage value-based insurance design model to include substance abuse disorder patients, saying it could help combat the opioid epidemic.Starting in 2020, the CMS should add substance use disorders to the specified clinical conditions identified in the current demonstration, Sens. Bob Casey (D-Pa.), John Thune (R-S.D.) and Chuck Grassley, (R-Iowa) wrote in a letter to CMS Administrator Seema Verma on Wednesday. Continue Reading

States are trying to lower drug prices. Here's how their efforts are being thwarted (Fierce Healthcare)
High drug prices may be a hot-button issue for the Trump administration with its blueprint to take on the problem released back in May. But faced with increased budget burdens tied to rapidly expanding prescription drug costs, state officials aren't waiting around for federal solutions for drug prices. Continue Reading


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