Engaging Ideas - 10/27/2017

Every week we curate stories and reports on complex issues. This week: Exploring a possible shift from the traditional two-party system in politics. Who is considered middle class? Looking to technology to spur engagement. Leveling the playing field so more high school seniors apply to college. Moving beyond the country’s “fixation” with bachelor’s degrees. A look at how hospital quality varies across the country.


2-Party System? Americans Might Be Ready For 8 (NPR)
There seem to be roughly at least four stripes of politics today. A new political typology out Tuesday from the Pew Research Center, based on surveys of more than 5,000 adults conducted over the summer, goes even deeper. It finds eight distinct categories of political ideology (nine if you include "bystanders," those not engaged with politics).

Twitter announces new ‘transparency center’ for ads (Tech Crunch)
Twitter is responding to political scrutiny over the role it may have played in spreading Russian misinformation, and to a bipartisan Congressional bill proposing new regulations for online ads, with some new initiatives of its own.

Liberals and Conservatives Uniting Against Partisan Status Quo (IVN)
Our political system is failing because our government has become little more than a perpetual banquet for selfish interests that feed themselves first, and worry about the health of the nation later, if at all. This is the situation in which we now find ourselves, and it must be reversed.


Is $100,000 middle class in America? (Chicago Tribune)
The majority of Americans - 62 percent - identify as "middle class," according to a Gallup poll conducted in June. It's the highest percent of people feeling that way since 2003. But a lot of Americans are like Osegueda: They feel middle class, but they aren't sure what it means.

Why the Solutions to Economic Mobility Are Local (CityLab)
In 1940, 92 percent of kids in America could grow up to do better than their parents, economically-speaking. Today, that’s just 50 percent. The American Dream, in other words, comes down to a coin toss. This issue, it turns out, really comes down to the neighborhood inequalities.

Designing a More Inclusive City (New York City)
In the 1990s, San Francisco removed all of the benches from Civic Center Plaza. In 2001, all remaining seating in nearby United Nations Plaza was removed in the middle of the night. Over the years, public seating has been removed from virtually the entire city. While this anti-homelessness strategy has given way a little with the emergence of the city’s many parklets, it’s still in full effect.


Technology Is Key to Local Citizen Engagement (Government Technology)
The mayors of Austin, Texas, Louisville, Ky., and Raleigh, N.C., hope their successful resident engagement projects will serve as guides for other major cities across the country.

Van Bramer Hosts First Ever Participatory Budgeting Events For Homeless New Yorkers (Queens Gazette)
City Council Majority Leader Jimmy Van Bramer hosted New York City’s first ever participatory budgeting events for homeless New Yorkers on October 13. At these two events, Majority Leader Van Bramer sought the input of homeless individuals sheltered in his district on how to improve the community they call home.

Public Engagement Is a Two-Way Street (Inside Higher Ed)
Claiming that academics are failing to engage with the general public is intellectual laziness at best and anti-intellectual posturing at worst, argues Adam Kotsko.


Are New York’s Charter Schools Safer than Its Public Schools? (Capital Research Center)
The findings by Max Eden and the Manhattan Institute compare responses from teachers and students at similar-level charter schools and public schools in New York City. They reveal something shocking trend: middle school charters are reportedly safer than their public counterparts.

‘This levels the playing field’: How New York City is trying to get more high school students to apply to college (Chalkbeat)
The program, called “College Access for All,” is meant to address the gap between students whose families already understand the application process and can help give them a leg up, and those who might be first-generation college students or who might not apply at all. This year, the education department expanded the program to include roughly 274 of the city’s high schools, or more than half of the total.

Gates Foundation to move away from teacher evals, shifting attention to ‘networks’ of public schools (Chalkbeat)
The idea is to fund “networks” that help public schools improve by scrutinizing student achievement data and getting schools to share their best ideas, he said. Of the $1.7 billion the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation will spend on U.S. education over the next five years, more than 60 percent will go to these networks — dwarfing the amount to be spent on charter schools, about 15 percent.

Higher Ed/Workforce

New Report: Degree Inflation Hurting Bottom Line of U.S. Firms, Closing Off Economic Opportunity for Millions of Americans (Harvard Business School)
Businesses can open a new talent pipeline for middle-skills positions and help middle-class Americans find jobs by rethinking the four-year degree requirements for positions that didn’t previously require them.

U.S. Education Needs to Move Past Its 'Fixation on the Bachelor's Degree,' Study Says (Education Week)
American educators and policymakers must "move beyond our current fixation on the bachelor's degree," and embrace the promise of associate and certificate programs, a new paper argues, noting that many jobs with good pay don't require bachelor's degrees.

Professors Challenge Part of ‘U.S. News’ Formula (Inside Higher Ed)
Faculty members on and off the tenure track are circulating a petition seeking to change the way U.S. News & World Report measures "faculty resources," an important part of the formula used to rank colleges.

Health Care

State enhances website that lets Mainers compare medical costs by provider (Press Herald)
New quality-of-care indicators and updated prices are added to CompareMaine.org to help consumers be informed health care purchasers.

Many Cancer Patients Skimp on Treatment Due to Cost (US News & World Report)
The high cost of cancer care in the United States has led more than one-quarter of patients to cut back on some part of their treatment, a new survey reveals.

Hospital quality varies widely across the country, Healthgrades analysis finds (Fierce Healthcare)
Organizations rated highly by the firm Healthgrades fare better on mortality and complication rates for several common conditions, according to a new analysis, and quality varies widely across the country. The group's annual Report to the Nation (PDF) examined the quality performance of close to 4,500 short-term acute care hospitals across the country.


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