ENGAGING IDEAS - 12/14/2018

Every week we curate stories and reports on complex issues. This week: New research that suggests Americans aren't as conservative as Congress thinks. One university's push to make sure foster children graduate from college. Focusing on opportunity, instead of income disparities to fix a city's inequality problem.


Congress thinks the public is way more conservative than it actually is. Deep-pocketed lobbyists are to blame, according to new research. (Washington Post)
Senior staffers in congressional offices hold highly inaccurate assumptions about what voters in their districts actually want when it comes to policy. They tend to believe that voters support much more conservative policies than they actually do.
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Can Socialism Save Democracy? (Common Dreams)
If socialism is going to save democracy, it needs to bring about equality without snuffing out freedom, and it needs to respect the role of markets without letting them dominate society
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Mapped: Why Voting Anomalies Are Impossible to Ignore in North Carolina (The Upshot)
After a long election season, there is just one House race where the result remains in serious doubt: North Carolina's Ninth Congressional District. The state's Board of Elections has refused to certify the narrow 905-vote lead that the Republican, Mark Harris, holds over the Democrat, Dan McCready, and is investigating allegations of absentee ballot fraud.
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From foster care to college (Hechinger Report)
Western Michigan University is one of several colleges that have started programs to help foster youth earn degrees
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How Urban Core Amenities Drive Gentrification and Increase Inequality (CityLab)
A new study finds that as the rich move back to superstar cities' urban cores to gain access to unique amenities they drive low-income people out.
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City Governments Should Focus On Opportunity, Not Income Inequality (Forbes)
The common belief today is that income inequality has exploded-the rich are getting richer while the incomes of the middle class and poor stagnate. But a new study from the Urban Institute reviews several studies on income inequality and finds that this perception is not accurate.
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Durham's New Blueprint for Equitable Community Engagement (Next City)
Beyond the blueprint, city leaders have taken a hard look at racist policies and how they inform inequities in Durham. The city joined the Government Alliance on Race and Equity; it formed a Racial Equity Task Force; many city staff now go through race equity training.
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Term Limits Heighten Need for Community Boards to Become Data Literate (Gotham Gazette)
Communities are empowered when their community boards are equipped with both the knowledge and the resources they need to challenge information practices that ignore or misrepresent people and problems in their neighborhoods.
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How the stress of state testing might make it harder for some students to show what they know (Chalkbeat)
The annual ritual of state testing in elementary and middle schools often comes within an unwelcome side effect: jittery, stressed-out kids. Now, a first-of-its-kind study documents some of what's actually happening to students.
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Survey: More than half of US teachers concerned about language barriers with ESL parents (Education Dive)
A recent ClassDojo survey of more than 560 randomly-selected teachers nationwide indicates 71% of those surveyed have taught students for whom English is a second language in the past three years, and 56% worry parents of these students don't have enough English language skills to effectively participate in parent-teacher conferences and other aspects of school communication and experiences, according to a press release.
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Higher Ed/Workforce

As Labor Market Tightens, Women Are Moving Into Male-Dominated Jobs (The Upshot)
Widening opportunities do not automatically translate into better pay or a decline in gender discrimination.
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OPINION: 3 ways that colleges can support underrepresented students after the Harvard case (Hechinger Report)
New research shows that even with a chief diversity officer in place, significant gains in faculty hires that are multicultural and diverse are lacking. At schools such as Yale, Harvard and Stanford, faculty from underrepresented backgrounds account for 7 percent or less of the total. A lack of influence over diverse faculty hires can be troubling.
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The Degree Rules, for Now (Inside Higher Ed)
College credentials still loom large in hiring. But a new survey of HR leaders finds growing interest in skills-based hiring, online microcredentials and prehire assessments.
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Health Care

How to Cut U.S. Drug Prices: Experts Weigh In (New York Times)
A look at policies and possible trade-offs, including the risk of hampering innovation.
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Health insurers look to digital tools to improve customer experience (Modern Healthcare)
Health insurance customers generally report poor experiences with their health plans. Only utility and internet and television service providers have worse customer service scores, and that's saying something. But health insurers say investing in digital tools and other technologies can help them fix this and give their customers a personalized, frictionless healthcare experience.
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1 in 5 patients at high risk of socioeconomic health problem, survey finds (Healthcare Dive)
A study of 500 random patients found that 68% suffer with at least one social determinant of health (SDoH) challenge, with 57% having moderate-to-high risk in at least one of the following categories: financial insecurity, social isolation, housing insecurity, addiction, transportation access, food insecurity and health literacy.
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