ON THE AGENDA | FEBRUARY 26TH, 2016 | Public Agenda

Engaging Ideas - 2/26

A weekly collection of stories, reports and news to spark consideration on ways to make progress on divisive issues.

A collection of recent stories and reports that sparked consideration on ways to make progress on divisive issues.


Community Engagement Matters Now More Than Ever (Stanford Social Innovation Review)

Data-driven and evidence-based practices present new opportunities for public and social sector leaders to increase impact while reducing inefficiency. But in adopting such approaches, leaders must avoid the temptation to act in a top-down manner. Instead, they should design and implement programs in ways that engage community members directly in the work of social change.

These civic experiments are getting citizens more involved in governing themselves (The Washington Post)

John Gastil and Hollie Russon Gillman write: "Recently, a wave of democratic reforms that have tried to draw the public back into public life. These community-driven interventions connect to — but extend beyond — local and state government. Several of these innovations promise to engage traditionally marginalized people if they can be nurtured and scaled."

For Voters, Facts Should Be the Lifeblood of Democracy (Moyers & Company)

Rick Shenkman is an award-winning investigative reporter for The New York Times. In his new book, Political Animals: How Our Stone-Age Brain Gets in the Way of Smart Politics, he attempts to understand what shapes voters’ responses to politicians. Shenkman argues that in the voting booth, “contrary to what we tell ourselves, it’s our instincts rather than arguments appealing to reason that usually prevail.” In this excerpt, he wonders what it would be like if voters — on the left and the right — made up their minds on the issues based on actual facts instead of what they assume to be true.

5 Ways to Get Millennials to Choose Government (Governing)

Young people are as motivated by the idea of public service as they ever were. Governments aren't doing what they should to take advantage of that.

Restoring Opportunity

How America Is Putting Itself Back Together (The Atlantic)

Most people in the U.S. believe their country is going to hell. But they’re wrong. What a three-year journey by single-engine plane reveals about reinvention and renewal.

K-12 Education

Where Affordable Housing Is Scarce, So Are Teachers (Governing)

To get people to teach in expensive or rural areas, some school districts are offering to help pay their rent or mortgage.

The Secret to School Integration (The New York Times)

The budget request President Obama released this month includes $120 million to support integration efforts led by districts, more than double current funding. John King, the acting secretary of education, has deemed school integration a national priority, calling the opportunity to attend strong, socioeconomically diverse schools “one of the best things we can do for all children.”

Groups Urge 'Whole-Child' Approach to Combat Poverty (EdWeek)

A pair of efforts has launched calling for the involvement of multiple local agencies to support the success of poor children in school. Expected to be unveiled this week, the first effort is a new project from Harvard University's Education Redesign Lab that is helping local city and school leaders link agencies responsible for children's services—such as mayor's offices, school systems, and social services agencies—to work together to address both in-school and out-of-school factors that affect student learning.

Feds seek more input on teacher prep (Politico Newsletter)

The Education Department wants to hear more from the public about distance education and how it relates to their long-delayed rule aimed at overhauling the way teachers are prepared for the classroom. The agency has sent a supplemental notice of proposed rulemaking to OMB that would allow them to collect more public comments, specifically on the distance education portion of the proposed teacher prep regulation, a department official told Morning Education. The supplemental NPRM will publish in the Federal Register following OMB review.

Higher Education

'Completion Grants' Are Just One Part of the Student-Success Puzzle (The Chronicle of Higher Education)

A just-in-time grant of even a few hundred dollars can keep many recipients from dropping out, according to a report released on Monday by the Coalition of Urban-Serving Universities and the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities. The report, "Foiling the Dropout Trap," describes how 10 colleges are using similar aid strategies to help students overcome financial shortfalls and stay enrolled.

How to Help More College Students Graduate (The Upshot)

The dropout problem is particularly acute for students whose parents did not attend college. First-generation students beat enormous odds by even enrolling in a four-year degree program. Yet 30 percent of first-generation freshmen drop out of school within three years. That is three times the dropout rate of students whose parents graduated from college. Details matter. In one counseling program, professional advisers periodically called students who were in academic difficulty. The counselors worked with students on the “soft skills” that college requires, like time management and organization. The discussions were personalized and concrete: “Don’t you need some extra time to study for midterms? Perhaps you should you cut back on your work hours this week.” Coached students were more likely to stay in college and graduate.

Extra Advising for First-Gen College Students Improves Outcomes (Education Dive)

Susan Dynarski writes for The New York Times that coaching programs that cultivate soft skills like time management and organization, and offer personalized, concrete discussions with advisors who understand college life have seen promising results. A City University of New York program has doubled the three-year graduation rate and researchers plan to test its transferability to three community colleges in Ohio.

Transfer IS Workforce (Inside Higher Ed)

At the community college level, pre-transfer degrees can look unfocused, writes Matt Reed. But that’s because they’re being taken out of context. They aren’t really meant to stand on their own; they’re meant to be part of a larger whole.

Health Care

The hard work ahead on adopting uniform quality measures (Modern Healthcare)

For more than a year, top officials from Medicare, health plans, medical societies and employer and consumer groups hammered away at a dreadful task: Get everyone to agree to use identical quality measures for the treatment of common conditions. Now the real negotiations begin.

National Survey Finds Limited Access To Price Estimates For Routine Hospital Procedure (Pioneer Institute)

A survey of 54 hospitals in six metropolitan areas across the United States reveals that consumers seeking a price estimate for a routine medical procedure face a difficult and frustrating task, despite price transparency provisions in the Affordable Care Act and five of the six states, according to a new Pioneer Institute Policy Brief.

Survey: Majority of healthcare plans offer price transparency tools (FierceHealthPayer)

The majority of health plans in the U.S. offer price transparency tools to consumers, nearly all of which include estimates for common surgical procedures, radiology services, and out-of-pocket costs, according to a survey published in the American Journal of Managed Care (AJMC). The survey, conducted by America's Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), included responses from 43 health plans contacted between 2014 and 2015. Of those, 31 plans provided price estimator tools, and nearly half of the plans that did not have price estimator tools planned to implement them within the next 12 to 24 months.

City Solutions

Let's Build Something Together: An Aspirational Infrastructure Tour of 5 Cities (Governing)

Financing public improvements isn't easy -- but nothing is more important for cities to prosper.


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