ON THE AGENDA | OCTOBER 21ST, 2016 | Public Agenda

Engaging Ideas - 10/21

A collection of recent stories and reports to make you think about how to make progress on divisive issues.

Every week we curate stories and reports on complex issues. This week: Four ideas on how to energize demoralized voters. Two articles on the future of teacher prep. Pew reports on the expected growth in demand for workers with social skills. And Medicare announces one of the biggest changes in its 50-year history.


Room for Debate: How to Energize Demoralized Voters (The New York Times)
The percentage of people who say they will vote is down. What can get them to the polls?

Voters Given Opportunities to Limit Money's Role in U.S. Politics (Governing)
Several states will weigh in on the Citizens United ruling, campaign contribution limits and publicly-financed elections in November.

A Pre-Election Reminder: Don't Despair! (The Atlantic)
James Fallows writes: “I tell myself, with 27 days to go until the election, Don’t despair! Better things are happening than what dominates the news—and has dominated my own recent output. I tell readers too: Don’t despair! Will provide more evidence for that assertion soon.”


Bringing the Community Into the Process of Governing (Governing)
Local governments have a lot to gain from the kind of transparency that involves residents in decision-making.

A vital fund for Baltimore (Baltimore Sun)
Over the next few months, a diverse group of Baltimore stakeholders will collaborate with Strong City Baltimore, the national Participatory Budgeting Project, and the office of City Council President Bernard C. "Jack" Young to develop recommendations for a Baltimore PB process, a plan that would give citizens "real power over real money." This proposal will be evaluated and, hopefully, accepted by the City Council as a part of its plan to administer the Youth Fund.

Public Opinion/ Polling

Putting post-debate ‘flash polls’ into perspective (Pew Research Center)
Quick reactions to events are not always indicative of the ultimate impact of the events. The discussion of the debate among journalists and other observers can shape subsequent public opinion by pointing out factual or logical errors made by the candidates or simply by declaring a winner.

K-12 Education

National School Spending Inches Up to $623 Billion (EdWeek)
The National Center for Education Statistics reports that K-12 spending at the state and district level increased by 1.2 percent from fiscal 2013 to fiscal 2014.

Op-ed: A Roadmap for Better Teacher Prep (U.S. News & World Report)
Andrew J. Rotherham and Ashley LiBetti Mitchel write: The most promising thing about these regulations isn't their specifics or sharp edges, which will be softened and aren't even scheduled to be fully implemented until 2022. Instead, these regulations set the stage, at last, for some systematic collection of information to provide preparation programs and policymakers with a roadmap for improvement. The craziest aspect of teacher preparation isn't even the lack of accountability. Rather, it's that despite a century of research and theory, hundreds of millions of dollars in public money spent annually, enormous costs and opportunity costs for prospective teachers, and an array of accrediting bodies and bureaucracies, we still know depressingly little about how to prepare an effective teacher or how to design a high-quality teacher preparation program.

Teacher Training As 'Part Theater, Part Sport' (NPR)
Relay, an independent teacher prep program, is growing quickly thanks to its hands-on approach. Is this the future of teacher training?

The Depths of How Poverty Affects Learning: A Superintendent's Quest (Real Clear Education)
There are communities throughout the country where schools that are beating the odds with impoverished students have sparked discussion—and political resistance—about what’s possible. But in greater San Antonio’s 17 school districts, it is still generally accepted that poverty is an insurmountable barrier to school success. Yet one Texas superintendent knew poverty didn’t have to be destiny. And he knew his toughest challenge would be convincing others of this. Beth Hawkins reports for RealClearEducation on how Supt. Pedro Martinez is using data to tackle income inequality and buck the trend in his schools.

Higher Education & Workforce Development

How Much Graduates Earn Drives More College Rankings (The New York Times)
Despite the hand-wringing of many in academia, who saw the immeasurable richness of a college education crassly reduced to a dollar sign, the data has wrought a sea change in the way students and families evaluate prospective colleges. Earnings data are finding their way into a proliferating number of mainstream college rankings, shifting the competitive landscape of American higher education in often surprising ways.

Group releases draft quality standards for competency-based education (Inside Higher Ed)
Group of colleges releases voluntarily standards for competency-based education, which Education Department official says could help prevent the rise of bad actors.

Senate Higher Ed Post Up for Grabs (Inside Higher Ed)
As Election Day nears, it's uncertain who would lead the Senate committee that would handle key higher education legislation -- including a "free college" proposal if Hillary Clinton is elected -- in the next Congress.

Jobs requiring preparation, social skills or both expected to grow most (Pew Research Center)
Employment in occupations requiring average to above-average levels of preparation – a metric that combines formal education, on-the-job training and prior related experience – is expected to grow 7.9% between 2014 and 2024, according to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics. That equates to nearly 6 million of the 9.7 million jobs predicted to be added over that time. Employment in occupations requiring below-average preparation, on the other hand, is projected to grow by only 5.1%, or the equivalent of about 3.7 million jobs. (The BLS projects overall 2014-24 job growth at 6.5%.)

Health Care

'Dr. Plinko': The game show for healthcare prices (FierceHealthcare)
Where do healthcare pricing, carnival fairways and performance art intersect? It might be at City-Wide Open Studios, the arts festival in New Haven, Connecticut. A physician affiliated with the Yale School of Medicine and the Yale-New Haven Children's Hospital is using the 2016 festival's gaming theme to create one that illuminates the sector's lack of price transparency, according to the Yale News. That would be “Dr. Plinko,” a riff on the “Price is Right” where contestants guess the retail prices of consumer items. But in “Dr. Plinko,” contestants guess the price of healthcare services.

Blog: Despite doom and gloom, experts see solutions to ACA exchange woes (Modern Healthcare)
Health policy experts say there are relatively straightforward changes that would strengthen the Affordable Care Act marketplaces, with the key goal of getting more younger, healthier people to enroll.

Medicare Unveils Far-Reaching Overhaul Of Doctors' Pay (AP)
Changing the way it does business, Medicare on Friday unveiled a far-reaching overhaul of how it pays doctors and other clinicians. The goal is to reward quality, penalize poor performance, and avoid paying piecemeal for services. Whether it succeeds or fails, it's one of the biggest changes in Medicare's 50-year history.

Jog before you run: Why health insurers should take a discerning approach to value-based care (Healthcare Dive)
The effort to shift to value-based payments for healthcare services is in full swing, and the reality is – over the longer term – there won’t be any going back. However, realizing the intended results of these changes will require fundamental, foundational and vastly transformative changes in care delivery. And those changes will be hard to come by. Therefore, health insurers need to move into this new reality with prudence and deliberation, keeping their focus on getting the basics right instead of — or at least before — pursuing expensive, shiny objects.


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