ON THE AGENDA | MARCH 10TH, 2016 | Public Agenda

Engaging Ideas - 3/10

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.


The Poisoning of Our Politics: Partisan Elections (Governing)

Mark Funkhouser writes: Those who want greater turnout in elections, more successful women and minority candidates, less gerrymandering, less ideological extremism and more pragmatic policymaking have a ready tool: Take the electoral machinery back from the private organizations that have given us the broken system of governance we have now.

The End of American Idealism (The New York Times)

Charles Blow writes: There is palpable discontent in this country among those who feel left out and left behind in the bounty of America’s prosperity. How long can the center hold? How long can the illusion be sustained? How long before we start to call this the post-American idealism era?

The Risk I Will Not Take (Bloomberg View)

Michael Bloomberg writes: “We cannot “make America great again” by turning our backs on the values that made us the world’s greatest nation in the first place. I love our country too much to play a role in electing a candidate who would weaken our unity and darken our future -- and so I will not enter the race for president of the United States. However, nor will I stay silent about the threat that partisan extremism poses to our nation. I am not ready to endorse any candidate, but I will continue urging all voters to reject divisive appeals and demanding that candidates offer intelligent, specific and realistic ideas for bridging divides, solving problems, and giving us the honest and capable government we deserve.”

What's the Answer to Political Polarization in the U.S.? (The Atlantic)

From partisan gerrymandering to exclusionary party primaries, a breakdown of the factors behind our polarized politics, and common proposals to fix it in a Jeopardy-style Q&A.

Restoring Opportunity

What Do Americans Believe Will Help Them Get Ahead? (The Atlantic)

Despite there not being very many well-paid jobs available, many people think they’d be doing better if they had more training.

12 Data Tools to Help Americans Climb the Economic Ladder (CityLab)

The White House’s “Opportunity Project” pushes the pursuit of social mobility “from information to action.”

K-12 Education

How can states better support and keep new teachers? (Hechinger Report)

Liam Goldrick, policy director at the New Teacher Center, answers questions about what new-teacher support looks like, how policies vary by state and how states can improve. "You look at the research conducted on the efficacy of induction [programs], and the impact of induction on things like classroom teaching, teacher retention and student learning, and you struggle to find clear and lasting impact from single-year approaches. It appears to take a multi-year course of support."

Zuckerberg On Personalized Learning, Giving, and Newark (Education Week)

In an exclusive interview with Education Week, the Facebook CEO talks about why he is shifting his K-12 giving priorities to personalized learning.

What Do Americans Think About Access to Education? (The Atlantic)

People support expanding pre-school for kids, but when it comes to free, public higher education, opinions split along more familiar political lines.

Higher Education

Workforce Development That Unites Families, Reduces Crime (American Association of Community Colleges)

Prisoner education programs aren’t new to community colleges. Last year, for example, California rolled out more tools and courses that help state community colleges provide instruction to prison inmates. While that pilot program is new, one on the East Coast, in Connecticut, has garnered attention for its success, helping more than 2,000 incarcerated parents reunite with their children and find jobs with more than 100 employers over the past two decades.

5 to Finish Campaigns Push Students to Take 15 Credits Per Semester (GoodCall)

Fifteen to Finish started on a state level. The Hawaii Graduation Initiative runs the 15 to Finish website. They explain, “Full-time students attending the University of Hawaii’s 2 or 4-year campuses need to earn 15 credits or more per semester to graduate on time. Students who have a plan to earn 15 credits per semester are more likely to complete college on time, earn better grades and have higher completion rates than students who are not on track to graduate on time.” There’s a financial component too—full-time tuition is the same dollar amount for anything above 12 credits. That one extra 3 credit class doesn’t cost you any extra money.

Using Data and Collaboration to Improve State Financial Aid (National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators)

Some features of state aid programs, such as spring deadlines, might discourage or shut out students who delay their decisions to apply for aid and attend college, such as adult learners, the report said. The board recommended seeking feedback from students and drawing on evidence from pilot programs in other states, and getting a more complete picture of the student population through student testimony or panels, or a data analysis of current students.

Health Care

How can we provide access to better healthcare data for consumers? (MedCityNews)

There are obvious signs that the health care system and federal government have been too slow to adapt to the changing dynamics and growing demand for transparency in health care. Several issues continue to frustrate federal data policy that would contribute to better data, better tools, and better markets for consumers making decisions about their health care and coverage. For example, federal health programs still allow for information blocking by Electronic Health Record vendors and consumers are often misled with confusing jargon and apples-to-oranges comparisons. In response, the Clear Choices Campaign is calling for concrete improvements from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

Clinicians must partner with gov't, community groups to learn about patients' real-life challenges (Modern Healthcare)

Healthcare providers need to work more closely with governments and community organizations to better address the social determinants of health, according to a report released Monday by the National Academy of National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine

City Solutions

There Goes the Neighborhood (WNYC)

A new podcast from WNYC provides an in-depth look at the gentrification of Brooklyn, from the developers to the mayor’s plan for affordable housing, to the integral role that race plays in the process. Produced by The Nation and WNYC Studios.

A new push for urban solutions for advancing innovation (Brookings)

Though we’ve long argued that successful innovation districts are the product of local collaboration rather than top-down planning, that doesn’t mean there isn’t a role for the federal government in supporting them. Increased federal investments in things like basic research, STEM skills training, and urban infrastructure are essential for nurturing the growth of innovation districts.


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