ON THE AGENDA | OCTOBER 7TH, 2016 | Public Agenda

Engaging Ideas - 10/7

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: What talking to strangers can do to combat xenophobia and what happens to the Education Department with an administration change. How mayors and faculty in higher education shape community and dialogue to change policy and outcomes. And a new survey that outlines how health plans will need to improve price transparency to guarantee consumer satisfaction.


Washington’s ‘governing elite’ think Americans are morons (Wonkblog)
A new book argues that Washington bureaucrats have contempt for the Americans they play a big role in governing.

The Hardened Divide in American Politics (The American Prospect)
When did hyper-partisanship begin? Pre-election polling data point to the mid-1990s.


To Combat Xenophobia, Do Talk to Strangers (Observer)
Hundreds of sociological studies over the course of decades about an idea called the “contact hypothesis” have shown with an immense range of nuances that overall, positive experiences with people different than you lead to greater understanding and tolerance for the entire group. Recently, researchers revisited these studies and focused on the previously disregarded effects of negative experiences. They found that the weight of a negative interaction is profoundly heavier than a positive one. To increase tolerance in our society as a whole, we need to create an overwhelming density of positive experiences. This election cycle has given us much to overcome.


Report: A Window of Opportunity II(The Opportunity Agenda)
A Window of Opportunity II, which revisits some of the key questions explored in our 2014 report. A Window of Opportunity II also examines new related variables, including public perception of the fairness of the economy, attitudes towards people suffering from homelessness, and public attitudes towards taxation and spending.

Striking new research on inequality: ‘Whatever you thought, it’s worse’ (Wonkblog)
America’s economic ladder is more broken than anyone realized.

Public Opinion/ Polling

White House wants to add new racial category for Middle Eastern people (USA Today)
On Friday, the White House Office of Management and Budget advanced the proposal with a notice in the Federal Register, seeking comments on whether to add Middle Eastern and North African as a separate racial or ethnic category, which groups would be included, and what it should be called. Under the proposal, the new Middle East and North African designation — or MENA, as it's called by population scholars — is broader in concept than Arab (an ethnicity) or Muslim (a religion). It would include anyone from a region of the world stretching from Morocco to Iran, and including Syrian and Coptic Christians, Israeli Jews and other religious minorities.

When You Hear the Margin of Error Is Plus or Minus 3 Percent, Think 7 Instead (The Upshot)
There are many ways, besides the well-known sampling error, to get things wrong in polling.

K-12 Education

At the Education Department, Planning for 2017 (Politico Morning Newsletter)
Nearly 150 positions at the Department of Education will become vacant during the presidential transition in the coming months. So who will run the department during any possible gaps in political leadership? A new law signed by President Obama earlier this year requires the department - and all other federal agencies - to make a list of career employees who could temporarily substitute in for each political position that's deemed "critical."

Data Tool Allows City-by-City Schooling Comparisons (EdWeek)
A website created for civic leaders and the public offers a collection of education data for 114 cities in 49 states and the District of Columbia.

Mayors Have Role in Improving Education (EdWeek)
Mayors play a crucial but often overlooked role in improving our education systems. A mayor's influence in the community can help reshape the way all of us approach education policy and initiate change that leads to improved education outcomes. By using their ability to convene a broad range of effective stakeholders, mayors can facilitate the important communitywide conversations about education challenges and solutions that empower their districts to pursue effective strategies for reform.

Looking Back On 50 Years Of Busing In Boston (NPR)
The city has been busing kids to force desegregation for decades. NPR's Audie Cornish, who was part of the program as a kid, travels back to Boston to check on its effectiveness all these years later.

Commentary: The Empathy Gap and How to Fill It (EdWeek)
The achievement gap isn’t the only deficit in our schools, writes Jessica Sager the founder and executive director of All Our Kin Inc., a Connecticut-based family child-care network.

An open letter to America's college presidents and education school deans (Brookings)
Arne Duncan writes: "the system we have for training teachers lacks rigor, is out of step with the times, and is given to extreme grade inflation that leaves teachers unprepared and their future students at risk."

Higher Education & Workforce Development

New Study On Student Confusion On Aid Eligibility (Inside Higher Ed)
More than half of graduating high school students who don't complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid don't know anything about financial aid, according to research released Monday by the National College Access Network. That finding indicates that more students would apply for and receive federal financial aid for college even without one-on-one assistance if they knew about the availability of funds to pay for college, the group said.

Inviting Faculty to the Party: Encouraging Institutional Innovation and Change (The EvoLLLution)
Faculty need to play a central role in institutional transformation processes if they are to be successful, but leaders need to ensure their colleagues are well appraised of industry challenges and open to transformation at the institution’s core.

Google Search Results to Include Student Outcomes Data From College Scorecard (EdSurge)
Working with the U.S. Department of Education, Google has incorporated data from the College Scorecard directly into its search results. “Hundreds of millions of students and families pursue their college questions through Google, where trillions of searches are made every year,” Secretary of Education John King writes in a Google blog post.

Report: Transformational Teaching: A Team Approach (Jobs for the Future)
Team teaching truly is a team approach to education. Experienced teams know each other’s styles and rhythms; they finish each other’s sentences and play off one another’s skills. As Jody Honeyman, a nursing instructor at Washburn Institute of Technology in Kansas describes it, “you have two instructors from completely different backgrounds, but they both have your best interests at heart.”

Health Care

Ailing Obama Health Care Act May Have To Change To Survive (The New York Times)
The fierce struggle to enact and carry out the Affordable Care Act was supposed to put an end to 75 years of fighting for a health care system to insure all Americans. Instead, the law’s troubles could make it just a way station on the road to another, more stable health care system, the shape of which could be determined on Election Day. Seeing a lack of competition in many of the health law’s online insurance marketplaces, Hillary Clinton, President Obama and much of the Democratic Party are calling for more government, not less.

A shift in coverage has even the insured skipping medical care (Houston Chronicle)
Economists call it "skin in the game," a theory that if consumers treat health care like other shopping they will be more prudent. One of the most striking things about this sea change is how little notice it captured. "While much of the country has been focused on the super-heated political debate over the Affordable Care Act, under the radar screen, there have been far more fundamental changes in insurance that affect many more people," said Drew Altman, president of the Kaiser Family Foundation, one of the nation's leading health-policy research think tanks. "This is a very blunt tool for controlling costs," said Sara Collins, an economist and vice president for health care coverage and access at the Commonwealth Fund, a health public-policy research foundation.

Consumer Satisfaction Dips When Payers Lack Price Transparency (Health Payer Intelligence)
A new survey from HealthEdge outlines how health plans will need to improve price transparency in order to guarantee better consumer satisfaction.

More employers turning to value-based healthcare (Modern Healthcare)
More employers are setting up value-based reimbursement and payment arrangements with health insurers and providers to encourage better employee health outcomes and reduce costs, survey data released Tuesday show.


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