Engaging Ideas - 2/10/2017

Every week we curate stories and reports on complex issues. This week: A visualization of wealth divides in American cities. Improving student outcomes through family involvement. How the concept of student success has steadily expanded since the 1970s to include new responsibilities for colleges. The proposal Alaskan lawmakers are looking at to take the guessing out of health care prices.


The Free Flow of Scientific Information Is Critical for Democracy (Scientific American)
Gabriel Popkin, the chair of the National Association of Science Writers' information access committee, writes: As the new administration’s media access policies become clear, journalists and the public must be vigilant to ensure that scientific integrity and free flow of information remain enshrined as policy and practice across the federal government. These principles are vital to our democracy.


Moving up the economic ladder remains difficult for many Boone County residents (Columbia Daily Tribune)
Children who live in low-income households in Boone County (Missouri) face challenges moving up the income ladder, according to a 2015 national study conducted by Harvard University researchers. The study analyzed data from tax records related to more than 5 million children whose families moved across counties between 1996 and 2012.


Using Data Visualization to Understand Wealth Divides in America’s Largest Cities (Government Technology)
The problem of unequal wealth distribution in American cities has never been greater than it is today. Nine out of ten metropolitan cities have experienced a shrinking middle class from 2000-2014, according to the Pew Research Center, and the middle class no longer makes up the majority of the population in the United States.

K-12 Education

Atlanta Schools Start Over With Police (Education Week)
Barr's approach—talking with the girls to ease the friction, rather than disciplining them—is an integral part of the Atlanta school district's comprehensive plan to improve school climate for its 51,000 students. That plan includes forming its own police force, hiring 68 new school resource officers like Barr, and providing ongoing training about how to work in a school environment. The officers have been taught things Barr didn't learn in her more traditional law enforcement training, like how the teenage brain develops and how to interact with students to resolve conflicts.

Do people with more education get shorter prison sentences? (Journalist's Resource)
A new study suggests high school graduates are less likely to be sent to prison and receive shorter prison sentences than criminal offenders who did not finish high school. The academic study worth reading: “Sentencing Outcomes in U.S. District Courts: Can Offenders’ Educational Attainment Guard Against Prevalent Criminal Stereotypes?,” published in Crime & Delinquency, 2017.

Family Engagement: Strengthening Family Involvement to Improve Outcomes for Children (American Institutes for Research)
Family engagement seeks better outcomes for children and families by actively involving them in the different systems that serve them. Lacy Wood and Rebecca Ornelas discuss how family engagement may improve both academic outcomes and mental health for children.

Higher Education & Workforce Development

Report: IPEDS Graduation Rates Brochure (U.S. Department of Education)
The Graduation Rates (GR) Brochure explains to a non-technical audience how cohorts are established and graduation rates are calculated in IPEDS. It also provides timelines for the release of GR data and a list of key terms.

Professor Hopes His Quickie Calculator Will Show Low-Income Students They Can Afford a Selective College (The Hechinger Report/NBC News)
MyinTuition, a six-question survey that takes only a few minutes to fill out and predicts with surprising accuracy just how much financial aid a student can anticipate from the college. It’s the creation of Phillip Levine, a Wellesley economics professor who was frustrated by trying to forecast the cost of sending his own children to a university.

Report: Strengthening America's Economy by Expanding Education Opportunities for Working Adults  (National Adult Learner Coalition)
This report outlines the challenges new traditional students face and policy opportunities to connect them to today's economy through education and credentials.

Tracking the Evolution of Student Success (Inside Higher Ed)
College administrators in the field of student success who feel as though their jobs are getting more hectic each day aren't imagining things, according to the Education Advisory Board. Researchers at the EAB marked the Washington, D.C., based research and consulting firm’s 10th anniversary this year by reviewing the student success practices it has compiled in its online research library. They found that the concept of student success has since the 1970s steadily expanded to include new responsibilities for colleges.

Health Care

Redesigning Care for High-Cost, High-Risk Patients (Harvard Business Review)
Amid the political uncertainties that continue to cloud the future of U.S. health care, one thing hasn’t changed: Patients, clinicians, health plans, payers, and policy makers are still striving to achieve better outcomes at lower costs.

Lawmakers look to take the mystery out of Alaska's health care prices (Alaska Dispatch News)
In coming weeks, the Alaska Legislature and Anchorage Assembly will both consider proposals aimed at providing Alaskans better information about potential medical costs.

Despite Decades-Old Law, Funeral Prices Are Still Unclear (NPR)
Federal regulators have found about 1 in 4 funeral homes don't disclose their general price lists as required by the 1984 rule.


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