Engaging Ideas - 4/13/2017

Every week we curate stories and reports on complex issues. This week: Why it’s time to embrace forms of political engagement other than elections. A new analysis of 44 studies on incentive-pay programs for teachers. New York adopts tuition-free college. How to (or how you won’t) find prices for medical procedures.


Tech Creates Our Political Echo Chambers. It Might Also Be A Solution (NPR)
The Pew Research Center has found that about two-thirds of adults get news from social media. Analysts have blamed technology for creating an online echo chamber.

Our Addiction To Elections Is Killing American Democracy (The Nation)
It’s time to embrace other avenues of political engagement.


Report: Economic Mobility in America: A State-of-the-Art Primer (Archbridge Institute)
The estimates constitute a comprehensive suite of mobility measures. The report also discusses the strengths and weaknesses of summary measures in assessing the extent of equal opportunity. An up- to-the-minute literature review on levels of American economic mobility is included in an appendix.

Can the American republic survive extreme economic inequality? (Washington Post)
Ganesh Sitaraman wrote his new book, “The Crisis of the Middle-Class Constitution,” before voters went to the polls in November. But he saw enough in the Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders primary campaigns to assess the significance of the election. “After thirty years of a collapsing middle class,” he writes, “after thirty years of an economy designed to stack the deck in favor of the big guys; after thirty years of a political and constitutional system increasingly rigged to work for economic elites — after all this, the people revolted.”

K-12 Education

Merit Pay for Teachers Can Lead to Higher Test Scores for Students, a Study Finds (EdWeek)
Teacher participation in a merit-pay program led to the equivalent of four extra weeks of student learning, according to a
new analysis of 44 studies of incentive-pay initiatives in the United States and abroad.

How I Learned to Take the SAT Like a Rich Kid (The New York Times)
I realized that they didn’t just want to score exceptionally well on the SAT. They were gunning for a score on the Preliminary SAT exams that would put them in the top percentile of students in the United States and make them National Merit Scholars in the fall. It was disconcerting. The majority of low- and middle-income 11th graders I know in Michigan didn’t even sit for the preliminary exams. Most took the SAT cold.

How Are Charters and District Schools Working Together? In Many Ways (EdWeek)
The number of school districts and charter schools that are interested in actively working together is on the rise, according to Robin Lake, the director of the Center on Reinventing Public Education at the University of Washington, which researches district-charter collaborations and provides technical assistance to districts and charter schools looking to work together.

Idaho gives education money directly to teenagers to manage themselves (Hechinger Report)
Every seventh grader gets $4,125 to spend on early college credits. “If the money was the thing that stopped you, that’s not going to stop you anymore, unless you’re just being lazy,” Senior Cassandra Madrigal, 17, said. With her allotment, she’ll easily cover the cost of this year’s AP tests and her Boise State University-certified statistics class..

Higher Education & Workforce Development

An Interstate Transfer Passport: Its Time Has Come (New England Journal of Higher Education)
The early results for the Interstate Passport program are beginning to come in. As of February 2017, 21 institutions in six states were formal members of the Interstate Passport Network. Institutions in an additional 10 states are exploring or preparing to apply for membership. A total of 9,082 student passports were issued in fall 2016—the first term they could be awarded.

New York Adopts Free Tuition (Inside Higher Ed)
SUNY and CUNY students from families with incomes up to $125,000 will not pay tuition. But some aid experts are alarmed by requirement that graduates stay in state for same number of years they receive the benefit.

Health Care

Survey: 1 in 5 patients comparison-shop for healthcare (Fierce Health Care)
Many Americans want access to price transparency tools for healthcare, but they continue to run into roadblocks when they seek information on costs for services. A nationwide survey conducted by Public Agenda found that about half of patients in the U.S. have tried to find how much their healthcare would cost before going to get care, but 63% said that there is not enough information on costs available.

Think tank finds little transparency in Massachusetts hospital prices (Mass Live)
Massachusetts state law requires doctors and hospitals to tell patients how much a procedure costs, if a patient asks. By and large, the providers are not complying, according to a study released Monday by the Pioneer Institute.

The real metric for fixing health care (American Thinker)
Patients in Tennessee are seeing insurers drop out of the Obamacare exchanges like flies – another reminder that America's signature health care program has serious problems with dire consequences. Both major political parties acknowledge Obamacare's woes, but different metrics for fixing these problems have made civil and rational discussion impossible.


Comment on this article.

Recent Blogs


Public Agenda knows what it takes to fuel progress on critical issues.
We need your support to keep things moving!

Join the Community


Take Action