Engaging Ideas - 2/17/2017

Every week we curate stories and reports on complex issues. This week: How the U.S. government works and a story of a park thatís come to symbolize rising inequality. A new study on teacher collaboration and satisfaction in relation to student achievement. Why institutional action is essential to tackling college transfer problems. And articles on the cost and psychology of saving for health care.


In a chaotic presidency, Civics 101 is giving listeners a reintroduction to how the U.S. government works (Nieman Lab)
New Hampshire Public Radioís Civics 101 and The Washington Postís Can He Do That? are helping to contextualize Trumpís presidency for those who donít have much background knowledge.

Trump Ethics Monitor: Has The President Kept His Promises? (NPR)
Donald Trump and his team have committed to certain steps that touch on ethics and conflicts-of-interest concerns. We offer context and look for evidence to track progress of those promises.

Our expectations of what civic engagement looks like donít match reality. Can we fix that? (Vox)
The election of Donald Trump has reawakened peopleís desire to engage in politics. People are eager to be connected to others who also want to make their voices heard. Activists on both the right and the left are fired up: They want to join civil society organizations, participate in their town hall meetings, protest, and engage with social media whenever an all-too-powerful executive seems to be infringing upon their liberties or attempting to roll back progress. They want to be part of something bigger.

Death to the Gerrymander (Slate)
It has become painfully clear in recent years that partisan gerrymandering is one of American democracyís worst illnesses. Although the Supreme Court held decades ago that the purpose of redistricting was to ensure ďfair and effective representation for all citizens,Ē legislators often use the process to lock the minority party out of power.


Whatís Limiting Upward Economic Mobility? (SF Fed Blog)
Work hard and youíll achieve success and have a higher income than your parents. Thatís the American dream. Yet thousands of struggling Americans are realizing that determination isnít always enough, and itís difficult to get ahead when youíre always behind. Here are five important things to know about economic mobility challenges holding people back.

How to Solve Income Inequality (US News & World Report)
This increasingly gratuitous income inequality gap is contributing to global poverty, health crises, crime and the slow death of class mobility, the backbone of the American dream. So, how can society change to narrow this wealth gap?

The High Line's Next Balancing Act (CityLab)
The famed ďlinear parkĒ may be a runaway success, but itís also a symbol of Manhattanís rising inequality. Can its founder help other cities learn from its mistakes?

K-12 Education

Study: Teacher Satisfaction, Collaboration Are Keys to Student Achievement (Education Week)
The study, published this month in the American Journal of Education, was conducted by Neena Banerjee, an assistant professor of public administration at Valdosta State University, and three professors of sociology and public policy from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. The study used data from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Survey, which followed a nationally representative sample of children from kindergarten in 1998 through middle school. That survey had also asked the children's teachers questions about their overall job satisfaction and the extent of teachers' collaboration with other teachers.

Scientists Take on New Roles in K-12 Classrooms (Education Week)
As schools work to implement the Next Generation Science Standards, practicing scientists are also rethinking how they work with schools to advance understanding of their field.

Beyond DeVos, What 5 Key Trump Appointees Could Mean For Schools (NPR)
Here's a roundup of how Trump's new leadership could affect education.

Higher Education & Workforce Development

College Can Improve Transfer Rates (Inside Higher Ed)
State policy isnít the only way to tackle low community college student transfer rates, write Josh Wyner and Alison Kadlec. Institutional action matters, too.

Maybe College Isn't the Great Equalizer (Inside Higher Ed)
A study links family income growing up to postgraduation income -- even after controlling for many factors. Other researchers disagree. The study is by Dirk Witteveen, a doctoral candidate in sociology at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York, and Paul Attewell, a distinguished professor in sociology at the Graduate Center. Their work has just been published in the journal Social Forces (abstract available here). Their study differs with a recent, much publicized study finding that college is in fact the great equalizer, but the professors behind that study question some of the methodology in this new work.

Relationships Matter in Recruiting Latino Students (Inside Higher Ed)
Two-year institutions across the country are getting creative with Latino student recruitment as Hispanic populations grow.

How Things Went Wrong at a Student Loan Giant (BuzzFeed)
Staff say they were pushed to get borrowers off the phone quickly ó leaving many in the dark about options to make big cuts to their student loan payments. Meanwhile, Jack Remondi, the CEO of Navient, offers his ideas for improving the student loan program.

Health Care

The high cost of health care (KRCG, Missouri)
The thought of having a procedure done, or even going to a doctor can be stressful, especially if you don't know how much it's going to cost you. For many people, the cost of health care can get confusing.

The Perplexing Psychology Of Saving For Health Care (NPR)
Spending your own money on health care might mean that you'll be more frugal with it. That's the theory behind health savings accounts, a decades-old GOP concept that's sparking renewed interest on Capitol Hill as Republican lawmakers look for ways to replace the Affordable Care Act.


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