Engaging Ideas - 4/28/2017

Every week we curate stories and reports on complex issues. This week: Moments of political pragmatism between urban Democrats and Republican governors. Why a “fight inequality!” rallying cry might not be so inspiring. Stories on how the voice of teachers and students are shaking up schools. And the narrow approach that misses the point to cut health care costs.


Social media may not be to blame for our political divisions (Market Watch)
Never before have Americans seemed so politically divided. You can hear the divisions in conversations at restaurants (particularly if you live in a swing state). You can see the divisions via protest signs on the evening news. You can look at the final outcome of the U.S. presidential election. And sometimes, you can witness acrimony in the conversations on Facebook.

Unlikely Political Allies: Urban Democrats and GOP Governors (Governing)
Most states now are run by Republicans. Virtually all big cities, by contrast, have Democratic mayors. That has led to a lot of conflict and a considerable number of state laws preempting local initiatives. But while many Democratic mayors are struggling to get a hearing from Republican legislators, a fair number have been able to forge working partnerships with GOP governors.

How political nuance could save America (The Guardian)
Many progressives trade in stereotypes about Kansas with childlike pride, writes Sarah Smarsh. But to use geography to separate the righteous from the scourge is dangerously simplistic.

Wikipedia’s founder launched a fake-news fighting site. (The Guardian)
Jimmy Wales’ Wikitribune is an independent site for journalists and an army of volunteer community contributors to work together to report, edit, and fact check stories. The idea is that people who donate to the site will have a say in coverage.


Participatory Budgeting: The People’s Budget (WNYC)
“The people's budget is an opportunity for community residents to decide how a million dollars or more is spent in their community.”


Escaping Poverty Requires Almost 20 Years With Nearly Nothing Going Wrong (The Atlantic)
The MIT economist Peter Temin argues that economic inequality results in two distinct classes. And only one of them has any power.

'Fight Inequality!' Is a Poor Rallying Cry (Bloomberg View)
Inequality, of income or wealth, is one of the most frequently invoked ideas in policy discussions today. Yet a study of the concept reveals uncomfortable truths, namely that most Americans don’t mind inequality nearly as much as pundits and academics suggest.

K-12 Education

Student Voice Plays a Key Role in Townsend Harris Shakeup (WNYC)
Reporters for the school paper, The Classic, exposed problems and discontent with the interim principal for months. Now, the school is getting a new principal.

With New York City expected to unveil school diversity plan soon, advocates want the public to have a say (Chalkbeat NY)
“What we want the DOE to do is create an actual planning process that is inclusive of stakeholders across the city. That has not been the case,” said Matt Gonzales, who leads school integration efforts for the nonprofit New York Appleseed and is a member of ASID. “Any efforts towards integration or desegregation always, historically, have required local buy-in.”

Teacher-Powered Schools Take Root (Education Week)
Impact Academy at Orchard Lake in Minnesota is among a growing number of public schools where teachers have a say in what goes on, from the learning approach to staffing and scheduling.

Educators Share Their #BestPD, #WorstPD (Education Week)
We asked educators to share on Twitter the professional development that inspired them or that left them scratching their heads.

Higher Education & Workforce Development

ASAP Expands North and West (Inside Higher Ed)
Westchester Community College, which is part of the State University of New York System, and Skyline Community College in California are the latest campuses that are gearing up to try ASAP for the first time. At Skyline, officials are estimating the cost per student will fall between $1,200 and $1,400 a year. If the program goes full scale, or grows to about 500 students, the college estimates it will cost $1.5 million a year. Westchester estimates its ASAP model will cost between $3,000 and $4,500 a student. But with outside grants, funding from the college and tuition from increasing student persistence, Westchester is hopeful the program will become sustainable.

One possible solution for the future of career and technical education (Hechinger Report)
The 26 students, from four local public high schools, report to school at the Volkswagen plant, a major new employer in the region. (The program, which started in August, is expected to grow to include more students and other employment tracks.) Students spend the morning in “lab time,” a flexible period during which they are taking courses, such as algebra or trigonometry, through the Edgenuity platform on a computer.

Policy Snapshot: Guided Pathways to College Completion (Education Commission of the States)
Based on a review of 2016 legislative activity that encourages or requires higher education institutions to develop guided pathways strategies: At least six states considered guided pathways legislation. Ten bills were introduced. Two bills were enacted, six bills died and two bills are pending.

Health Care

Behind The Health Care Reform Eight Ball (Forbes)
The core issue dividing GOP factions focuses on driving down the cost of insurance premiums only. This narrow approach is a recipe for public relations and policy failure. But if you couple insurance reforms to transparency in our costs of actual care, a potent dynamic is unleashed. Our health care marketplace is missing actual price tags.

America’s Other Drug Problem (ProPublica)
Every year nursing homes nationwide flush, burn or throw out tons of valuable prescription drugs. Iowa collects them and gives them to needy patients for free. Most other states don’t.

It’s Almost Impossible to Find Out the Cost of a Medical Procedure. This Company Is Trying to Change That. (The Daily Signal)
Amino mines data from billions of health insurance claims from the private and public sectors. Amino then gives patients access to information on the cost of various procedures and how much experience doctors nationwide have in those procedures.


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