ENGAGING IDEAS - 11/09/2018

Every week we curate stories and reports on complex issues. This week: Exploring why democracies are worth protecting. Looking at what impact providing a high minimum wage can truly have on a poor state’s economy. A record number of voters in this cycle’s midterm elections. How a divided Congress will impact higher education. The health care industry’s slow pace in improving patients’ health literacy.


Is Democracy at Risk? A Lesson Plan for U.S. and Global History Classes (New York Times)
Often we take for granted that the United States is a democracy, and that democracy is a form of government worth celebrating. This lesson starts there, but then pushes students to reflect on why democracies are worth protecting, what elements are essential to a healthy democracy and how it is that democracies sometimes fail. Continue Reading

Is More Democracy Always Better Democracy? (The New Yorker)
Parties are losing control over their candidates. Two scholars argue that ordinary Americans are the ones paying the price. Continue Reading


How resources and opportunities differ for NYC students (Hechinger Report)
Resources, instructional materials are drastically different for public school students living in the same city. Continue Reading

Democrats Win Control Of The Wealthiest Districts -- But Also The Most Unequal (Forbes)
Democrats took control of the House, gaining at least 30 seats (there are still technically 422 of 435 seats undeclared), and bringing the balance of power up to 225 Democrat representatives against 197 Republican. Democrats, in fact, now represent 41 out of the top-50 wealthiest congressional districts - and all 10 of the top-10 wealthiest districts, according to a recent election study. Continue Reading

Conservative Arkansas could soon have the highest effective minimum wage in the country (The Washington Post)
Arkansas is likely to have the highest effective minimum wage in the country soon, setting up a grand experiment in whether a high minimum wage in a poor state can raise workers out of poverty - or derail the state's economy. Continue Reading


The 'Gateway Drug to Democracy' (The Atlantic)
When people are asked how they would like to spend their tax dollars and are given an option to directly implement that binding decision themselves, "it really inspires a different way of thinking about our governments and our cities." Continue Reading

City Voters Resoundingly Decide to Place Term Limits on Community Boards (Sunnyside Post)
Voters in New York City have decided to place term limits on community board members. Community board members currently serve two-year terms, and are re-appointed without limit. Continue Reading

Record voter turnout in 2018 midterm elections (CBS News)
An estimated 113 million people participated in the 2018 midterm elections, making this the first midterm in history to exceed over 100 million votes, with 49 percent of eligible voters participating in the election. By comparison, the 2014 midterm elections had one of the lowest turnouts in American history, with only 36.4 percent of eligible voters participating. In 2010, the first midterm of President Obama's tenure, 41 percent of voters participated. Continue Reading


A rich Michigan district gets $10.1K per student. Its poorer neighbor gets $7.9K. Will Michigan's new divided government change the math (Chalkbeat)
With Republicans solidly in control of the Michigan legislature, governor-elect Gretchen Whitmer's education agenda may depend on finding a sliver of common ground with the opposite party. Continue Reading

EDlection2018: 2016 National Teacher of the Year Jahana Hayes Elected to U.S. Congress in CT, Promising to Back Teachers and Increase School Funding (The 74)
Democrat and 2016 National Teacher of the Year Jahana Hayes made history Tuesday night, becoming the first black woman elected to Congress in Connecticut. Continue Reading

Report: Schools investing in ed tech they don't use (Education Dive)
With the massive increase in ed tech and, as a result, education apps, schools continue to boost their investment in these programs - but in the end, they don't really use them. Continue Reading

Higher Ed/Workforce

Cal State Sees Major Gains in Graduation Rates (Inside Higher Ed)
Administrators at the California State University System worried two years ago when the system set ambitious goals for increasing graduation rates. They were concerned that low-income students and students of color would be harmed by the new targets. One criticism, for example, was that students would be pushed into courses they were not prepared to take. Instead, the nation's largest and most diverse public university system is seeing record levels of achievement and narrowed equity gaps among low-income and minority students. Continue Reading

A Divided Congress Is Unlikely to Compromise on Higher Ed. But What if It Did? (The Chronicle of Higher Education)
In the wake of Tuesday's election results, there will inevitably be talk of reauthorizing the Higher Education Act, the main federal law governing student aid and other key higher-education policies, during the next two years. Continue Reading

A Lesson From Montanans' Vote to Tax Themselves to Fund Higher Education (The Atlantic)
At a time when Republican trust in college overall is low, voters tend to keep supporting their local schools. Continue Reading

Health Care

Why Doctors Hate Their Computers (The New Yorker)
Digitization promises to make medical care easier and more efficient. But are screens coming between doctors and patients? Continue Reading

Healthcare providers concerned, unsure how to address CMS price transparency final rule (Healthcare Finance)
There is growing concern about how much value the rule really provides for patients and the potential perception problem it creates for hospitals. Continue Reading

Industry slow to improve patient health literacy (Modern Healthcare)
It wasn't long after the primary-care focused Rio Grande Valley Health Alliance in McAllen, Texas, was formed in 2013 that it became apparent the accountable care organization's patients had trouble talking with physicians about their health during office visits. Part of the problem was language related-most of the ACO's 7,500 patients in the southern Texas border town speak English as a second language. But a bigger challenge was the intimidation patients felt when they were meeting a doctor in the clinic was limiting their understanding of their health and how to improve or maintain it. Continue Reading


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