Engaging Ideas - 12/15/2017

Every week we curate stories and reports on complex issues. This week: A look at how where we live influences our politics. Thinking about how employers can help with burgeoning financial instability. Questioning whether private schools are immoral. The repeal of net neutrality and what it means for online learning. A look at which qualities matter the most to patients when making decisions in health care.


Justices to Hear Second Partisan Gerrymandering Case (New York Times)
The Supreme Court added a second partisan gerrymandering case to its docket on Friday, suggesting that the justices are seriously considering whether voting maps warped by politics may sometimes cross a constitutional line.

How Place Shapes Our Politics (Citylab)
An associate professor at Harvard’s Department of Government, Enos focuses on the geographic or spatial underpinnings of politics. His new book, The Space Between Us, dives deep into how the places we live influence our politics.

Democracy vs. Opportunism (National Review)
Partisan political expediency is a bigger threat to American self-government than is any would-be tyrant. A conservative viewpoint on the state of democracy.


The U.S. Homeless Population Increased for the First Time in Years. Here’s Why (Money)
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development released its annual Point in Time count Wednesday, a report that showed nearly 554,000 homeless people across the country during local tallies conducted in January. That figure is up nearly 1 percent from 2016.

What Happened to the American Boomtown? (The Upshot)
The places with the most opportunity used to attract the most new residents, in a cycle of fast-growing cities and rising prosperity. But no more.

Too Many Americans Suffer from Financial Instability. Their Employers Can Help Fix It (Harvard Business Review)
Rising inequality of income and of wealth undermines much of the narrative about opportunity in America—that it’s a country where anyone can pull themselves up by their bootstraps. In fact, today the U.S. has a lower rate of intergenerational economic mobility than France, Germany, or even Sweden.


City managers matter in how cities engage with their citizens (LSE)
Government managers have long struggled with the challenge of civic engagement. Some argue that new communication technologies, such as social media, web portals and online interactive platforms, are the key to improving how cities engage with their citizens.

What Would You Do With A Million Dollars? Whether Participatory Budgeting Is Worth The Effort (WBEZ, Chicago)
In Chicago, every alderman, every year, gets $1.32 million dollars in what’s known as aldermanic “menu money,” to spend on certain infrastructure projects, such as streets, sidewalks, and lighting. This year, nine aldermen used participatory budgeting, according to Participatory Budgeting Chicago, a group that helps guide the process in the city. And a few other aldermen use a different system to let residents decide how to spend menu money.


Advocates of the portfolio model for improving schools say it works. Are they right? (Chalkbeat)
As with many education policies, the portfolio model is gaining adherents even while a research base is still being built. Those philanthropists, nonprofit groups, and policymakers — like Kingsland at the Arnold Foundation and Osborne, on a multi-city book tour promoting the approach — are betting big on the idea that schools should be managed more like stocks in a portfolio, where successful ones should expand and failing ones should close.

Regents Make Graduation Easier for Disabled Students (New York Times)
The New York State Board of Regents went further on Monday in its efforts to make it easier for students with disabilities to graduate from high school, essentially eliminating the requirement that they pass any Regents exams.

Are Private Schools Immoral? (The Atlantic)
A conversation with Nikole Hannah-Jones about race, education, and hypocrisy.

Higher Ed/Workforce

Colleges Expand Commitments to Recruit Underserved Students (Inside Higher Education)
A half-dozen colleges and universities—including Yale University—have expanded their commitments or made new plans to bring more low-income students onto their campuses.

The Political Divide Over Higher Education in America (Gallup)
Sixty-seven percent of Republicans in the U.S. have "some" to "very little confidence" in colleges and universities, according to a recent Gallup survey. And a 2017 Pew Research Center survey shows that 58% of Republicans say colleges and universities have a negative effect on the way things are going in the country.

FCC Votes to Kill Net Neutrality (Inside Higher Education)
The vote will be a disappointment to many higher education groups, who argued that the loss of net neutrality would be particularly detrimental to online learning. Democratic senators also voiced concern about how the rule change would impact institutions and students in rural and low-income areas.

Health Care

Prescription Drugs May Cost More With Insurance Than Without It (New York Times)
Having health insurance is supposed to save you money on your prescriptions. But increasingly, consumers are finding that isn’t the case.

Hospitals Are Merging to Face Off With Insurers (Bloomberg)
A spate of hospital deals stands to further remake the U.S. health-care landscape, pushing up prices for consumers and insurers and changing how individuals get care.

Empowering New Yorkers with Quality Measures That Matter to Them (NYS Health Foundation)
The report outlines which quality measures are publicly available, the type of quality information consumers want, and recommendations for improving information that will facilitate health care decisions and help New Yorkers become empowered health care consumers. The report identified and catalogued 462 existing quality measures, including unique data sources and promising measures; synthesized research on quality measurement and reporting; and drew from interviews with a broad range of health care experts and an advisory group.


Comment on this article.

Recent Blogs


Public Agenda knows what it takes to fuel progress on critical issues.
We need your support to keep things moving!

Join the Community


Take Action