Engaging Ideas - 4/21/2017

Every week we curate stories and reports on complex issues. This week: How governments are using data, evidence, and crowd-sourcing community solutions. How an Islamic school is building Muslim and American identity as well as civic education. Several new reports on issues in higher education, including what’s known as guided pathways reform. Three traits of good value-based payment programs.


Five hacks for digital democracy (Nature)
Beth Simone Noveck urges researchers to work out how technology can improve public institutions. There is a dearth of research on how public organizations engage with civil servants and the public online, and thus a lack of insight into how to design successful online engagement processes and institutions.

What Excellence Looks like in Local Government (Data Smart)
What Works Cities, an initiative of Bloomberg Philanthropies, pairs midsized cities with expert partners – the Government Performance Lab at Harvard Kennedy School, the Behavioral Insights Team, the Center for Government Excellence at Johns Hopkins University (GovEx), Results for America and the Sunlight Foundation – for technical assistance in better using data and evidence. After two years of work with 77 cities across the United States, the program identified the key characteristics of a city devoted to using data to comprehensively identify, well, what works.

Poll: Only One-Third Of Americans Know The Rich's Tax Rates Have Not Climbed (NPR)
Results of a new Ipsos poll conducted for NPR suggest Americans may be sending a garbled message when they voice their opinions on taxes.


Smart governments are crowd-sourcing community solutions (Quartz)
Take Singapore and San Diego: By making data open and accessible, city and state governments are inviting fresh thinking by firms, data scientists, and start-ups. Experts from Singapore’s Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy offer perspective about how
the resulting insights are helping make economic development smarter.

The Moment for Participatory Democracy (Stanford Social Innovation Review)
Where are these citizens? Where, precisely, are people congregating in public life in 2017 America?


Earth 2.0: Is Income Inequality Inevitable? (Freakonomics)
In a perfect economy, no one would be poor. Does that mean everyone should receive a basic income? Or would that lead to disaster? The "Earth 2.0" podcast series looks at whether rebooting the planet and designing our civilization from scratch would give us something better than what we’ve blundered our way into thus far.

K-12 Education

This Islamic School Helps Students Build Their American And Muslim Identity (NPR)
The Al Fatih Academy in Virginia is one of about 270 Islamic schools in the U.S. The staff aim to give their students a well-rounded education and promote civic awareness.

Making America whole again via civics education (Hechinger Report)
To harness student passion without bogging down in partisan muck, teachers are wielding a bevy of ed-tech tools — ranging from online role-playing games and issue quizzes to social media platforms where teachers share strategies for leading political discussions and students collaborate to try to influence public policy.

Report: Economic impact of NYC's "school-to-prison pipeline" is $746M (Center for Popular Democracy)
This report, released by the Center for Popular Democracy and Urban Youth Collaborative, reveals the staggering yearly economic impact of the school-to-prison pipeline in New York City, $746.8 million. In addition, it presents a bold “Young People’s School Justice Agenda,” which calls on the City to divest from over-policing young people, and invest in supportive programs and opportunities for students to thrive. New evidence of the astronomical fiscal and social costs of New York’s school-to-prison pipeline demand urgent action by policymakers.

Higher Education & Workforce Development

Report: Implementing Guided Pathways (Community College Research Center)
This report is intended to provide insight into how colleges are planning and implementing guided pathways reforms. It is based on CCRC research on the early work of 30 colleges across the country that are part of the American Association of Community Colleges’ (AACC) Pathways Project. These colleges have committed to redesigning their programs and student support services at scale following the guided pathways model adopted by AACC based on CCRC’s research.

Report: Even One Semester: Full-Time Enrollment and Student Success (Center for Community College Student Engagement)
Students with fluid attendance patterns frequently fall between the two extremes—and they often look more like always-full-time students than like always-part-time students. These findings indicate that any experience as a full-time student provides a benefit.

Community college presidents surveyed on enrollment, recruitment, pipeline (Inside Higher Ed)
Six in 10 leaders of community colleges say their enrollments have declined in the past three years, including 21 percent who say enrollment is down by 10 percent or more, according to Inside Higher Ed’s 2017 Survey of Community College Presidents conducted by Gallup.

Report: Sunshine Laws in Higher Education (Association of Governing Boards)
Arguably, there is no more important governance challenge for college and university leaders than dealing effectively with what diplomat and educator Harland Cleveland termed the “trilemma” posed by sunshine laws: respecting the public’s legitimate right to know, protecting individual privacy, and serving the public good. It seems no exaggeration to suggest that institutional effectiveness depends on deftly balancing these three imperatives.

Report: Framing the Opportunity: Eight State Policy Recommendations That Support Postsecondary Credential Completion for Underserved Populations (Jobs for the Future)
Includes eight recommendations for policy levers that improve access and success.

Health Care

A Focus on Health to Resolve Urban Ills (The New York Times)
Discrimination, poverty, inequality and violence create unbearable stress, and stress kills.

Montana Lawmakers Push Bills on Health Costs, Transparency (US News & World Report)
Congress may not know what to do about former President Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act, but Montana lawmakers are pushing through legislation they believe will bring down health care costs and increase price transparency regardless of what happens in Washington.

3 traits of good value-based payment programs (Fierce Health Care)
In order for value-based payment models to live up to their hype, they must generate more consistent benefits than they have so far, argue Jessica Farmer and Michael Hochman, M.D., of the Keck School of Medicine.


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