ON THE AGENDA | MARCH 18TH, 2016 | Public Agenda

Engaging Ideas - 3/18

Every week we curate stories, reports and news to inspire progress on divisive issues.

Every week we curate recent stories and reports on complex issues including democracy, public engagement, opportunity, education and health care.


At SXSW, Obama Calls for More Civic Engagement in Digital Age (Tech.co)

Ronald Barba writes: President Barack Obama made his inaugural appearance at this year’s SXSW to discuss the importance of utilizing today’s digital tools and technological advancements to greatly improve and support civic engagement. Sitting with Evan Smith of The Texas Tribune, the President talked over many topics, including the increasing role of government in streamlining the process for aspiring entrepreneurs, how a private-public partnership between The White House and Silicon Valley is helping to solve our nation’s problems, and even touched upon the civil liberties issues surrounding Apple’s privacy case. More relevant to our election season, though, President Obama called for a better process to engage citizens in the electoral process.

Mediating Political Gridlock (WNYC)

Being a political mediator is no easy gig. Just ask seasoned mediator, Mark Gerzon, president of Mediators Foundation and the author of The Reunited States of America: How We Can Bridge the Partisan Divide. He's advised a number of groups, political actors, and corporations on bipartisanship. Listen as Gerzon mediates a conversation between a guns rights enthusiast and an anti-guns skeptic.


The Power of Convening for Social Impact (Standford Social Innovation Review)

Bringing people together in an environment that encourages and facilitates idea exchange is one of the most powerful communications strategies for driving change.

K-12 Education

Education Is Absent From the 2016 Presidential Race (EdWeek)

The 2016 election vindicates Neil Postman's ominous prophecy that we are "amusing ourselves to death," writes T. Robinson Ahlstrom.

What the Candidates Get Wrong About Charter Schools (The Atlantic)
Fact-checking Bernie Sanders—and the other presidential contenders—on their understanding of the public education institutions

Raising My Teacher Voice to Save My Job—and My Students' Success (Real Clear Education)

Karen Wolfson writes: What does 'teacher voice' actually mean? Until this year, it sounded like a nice phrase, but it didn’t hold much meaning for me… As a multi-classroom leader for fifth- and sixth-grade math at Nashville’s Bailey STEM Magnet Middle School, I get to lead a team of teachers while I continue to work with students and participate on the school leadership team. I spend about 65 percent of my time with students in large- and small-group instruction and blended learning, and 35 percent on leadership work, such as disaggregating my team’s data, researching how to reteach a skill, and meeting with the team or administration.

Higher Education

Report: The 2016 Gubernatorial State of the State Addresses and Higher Education (American Association of State Colleges and Universities)

AASCU has analyzed 41 State of the State and budget addresses that have been given since January 1 of this year to examine how higher education issues fit into governors’ agendas. College completion continues to be a leading concern among governors nationwide.

First Year, First Generation: The thing about money (Newsworks)

The fifth installment of the series covering first generation American students’ college experiences includes a comment from our own Erin Knepler and research we conducted on the myths and realities of why students fail to complete college.

How to Help First-Generation Students Succeed (The Atlantic)

Mikhail Zinshteyn writes: Ninety percent of lower-income first-generation students don’t graduate on time. A combination of simple nudges and regular check-ins from mentors can go a long way.

Podcast: Debatable (Radiolab)

A couple years ago Ryan Wash, a queer, Black, first-generation college student from Kansas City, Missouri joined the debate team at Emporia State University. When he started going up against fast-talking, well-funded, “name-brand” teams, it was clear he wasn’t in Kansas anymore. So Ryan became the vanguard of a movement that made everything about debate debatable. In the end, he made himself a home in a strange and hostile land. Whether he was able to change what counts as rigorous academic argument … well, that’s still up for debate.

Health Care

Toolkit helps develop patient engagement programs (Modern Healthcare)

The American Health Information Management Association has released a free toolkit to guide providers in the development of consumer engagement programs that are part of a larger shift toward value-based payment.

Health Care Delivery Innovations That Integrate Care? Yes! But Integrating What? (Jama)

From the article abstract: To enable improved cost control, quality, and access, US health care delivery is moving from fragmented fee-for-service delivery into various innovative integrated models, including accountable care organizations (ACOs), patient-centered medical homes (PCMHs), and bundles, defined as a coordinated group of services for a specific need, administered over a predefined period. These innovations hold promise for patients whose complex care requirements account for the bulk of health care costs and who would reap the most benefit from a coalesced network of care.

Health Leaders Should Beware of the Lemming Approach to Change (Hospitals & Health Networks)

Matt O'Connor writes: Nathan Kaufman, managing director of Kaufman Strategic Advisors LLC, surveyed the changing landscape, keying in on what health care leaders need to do, what the data suggest and what pitfalls to avoid. “One of the reasons organizations fail is the lemming syndrome,” Kaufman said. Following the strategies of the pack provides comfort and confidence, but there is no 'magic bullet solution',” he added. Kaufman offered up payment reform as an example — which, he contended, may not be the answer to reining in health care costs that many believe it is. Instead, cutting down on waste, establishing wellness centers and promoting value-based care may be among the more effective solutions.


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