ON THE AGENDA | MAY 13TH, 2016 | Public Agenda

Engaging Ideas - 5/13

A collection of recent stories and reports that sparked consideration on ways to make progress on divisive issues.

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


Room for Debate: Is Tyranny Around the Corner? (The New York Times)

A Washington Post piece claimed that a sizable number of Americans are supposedly wary about democracy, and Andrew Sullivan has written that Trump’s rise shows that we’re ripe for tyranny. Others have spoken of Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders as dual demagogues. But are Americans looking for an autocrat to take charge or simply a government that gets things done, works in their interest and truly represents them? Is America tired of democracy, or yearning for more of it?


Interactive: Where the Middle Class Is Shrinking (The Upshot)

Take a look at the 100 metro areas with the sharpest decline in the percentage of people in the middle class. In these areas, the middle class declined by more than 4 percentage points. (The decline in the New York-Newark-Jersey City area was not as steep, falling from 50.7 to 48.1 percent)


The Lessons of Boaty McBoatface (The Atlantic)

The parliamentary inquiry revealed one important way in which the campaign wasn’t a success: NERC and its partners in the British government don’t appear to have sufficiently planned for the day after launching the naming contest. They invited the public to engage with their project, but then didn’t clearly define what level of engagement they were ultimately seeking—and how to proceed if and when people actually engaged en masse. What’s the point of getting people involved if their involvement stops at voting in an online poll?

Report: Nonprofits Integrating Community Engagement Guide (Building Movement Project)

The Nonprofits Integrating Community Engagement (NICE) Guide is designed for organizational development experts, management support organizations, and internal and external consultants to facilitate efforts to integrate the voice of community members and constituents into the daily practice of nonprofit organizations.

K-12 Education

What’s Missing From The Conversation About Education Reform? Student Voices. (Think Progress)

“Adults do not educate us and inform us about new laws… and if I’m unsuccessful under the new law, and they never informed me, I would be frustrated. And that would impact my engagement and the way I do my work,” said Davida, a high school student from Ohio.

Should An Anonymous Donor Be Able To Save A Public School? (Interlochen Public Radio)

A northern Michigan district is so short on money it decided to close three schools. Now an anonymous donor wants to save one of them with a big private donation.

Report: Building a Grad Nation: Progress and Challenge in Raising High School Graduation Rates (Civic Enterprises)

When the Adjusted Cohort Graduation Rate (ACGR) hit 80 percent in 2012, we calculated that the national graduation rate would need to increase by roughly 1.2 percentage points per year to achieve 90 percent by the Class of 2020. Between 2013 and 2014, the nation missed this mark, and will now have to average closer to 1.3 percentage points over the next six years to reach the goal.

Higher Education

Bringing College to Students Who Can't Leave Home (The Atlantic)

“You look at what’s happening in the school system and you look at what the needs in the workforce are, and you see an immediate disconnect,” said Stewart Edelstein, the executive director of what would ultimately become something of a solution: The Universities at Shady Grove (USG). Created in 2000, USG essentially lets Montgomery County residents earn bachelor’s and even master’s degrees from nine of the 12 schools that make up the state’s university system all at one stand-alone campus 20 miles northwest of Washington, D.C., in Montgomery County.

Early Evidence: The College Scorecard Made a Difference, But Only for Some Groups of Students (The Chronicle of Higher Education)

The subgroups of students expected to enter the college-search process with the most information and most cultural capita are exactly the students who responded most strongly to the Scorecard.

Taking Competency-Based Credentials Seriously in the Workforce (Campus Technology)

Companies like AT&T and Google are expanding their partnerships with online education providers, creating new educational pathways to real jobs.

Alternative pathways: Perks, but there also many pitfalls (eCampus News)

Two higher education experts discuss the overarching benefits of higher ed alternative pathways, as well as the roadblocks and pitfalls to their success.

Health Care

Partisanship’s Grip on the Affordable Care Act (Wall Street Journal)

An upcoming Kaiser Family Foundation survey finds that among ACA marketplace shoppers, there's a major divide in how they view the law based solely on their politics. Researchers asked exchange customers if they're benefiting from the broader health law. 75 percent of Democrats said they've benefited; 29 % of Republicans said they've benefited. What explains the striking difference? "There is no reason to believe that there are demographic differences between these Republican or Democratic marketplace enrollees that would explain this large of a difference in their responses," the Kaiser Family Foundation's Drew Altman writes. "They are all purchasing coverage in the ACA marketplaces, and most members of each group are receiving premium subsidies under the law."

The missing patient voice in value-based care (Modern Healthcare)

Regulators are trying to improve and speed up feedback from doctors and patients as providers prepare to implement more value-based payment models such as the new Medicare reimbursement system for physicians.

Medical bills may soon be as easy to read as credit card statements (Marketplace)

On Monday morning, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services kicks off a competition to redesign medical bills and the billing process for consumers. In case you’ve missed the memo, federal health officials are overhauling health care to bring more “value” to the system. Medical bills as simple as credit card statements are part of the transformation, said Greg Meyers, an executive with the hospital system INTEGRIS Health in Oklahoma, one of the providers committed to testing the winning designs.

Will People Comparison-Shop for Health Care? (The New York Times)

If patients know how much their medical care costs, they’ll shop around for the cheapest option — and over time, health care costs will go down. At least, that’s the idea behind the drive to improve price transparency, a strategy embraced by Donald Trump, among others. But a recent study suggests it’s not so easy to get people to shop.

City Problems, City Solutions

New York City's Trying to Fight Gentrification Before It Happens (Governing)

The city is spending hundreds of millions of dollars to help keep certain neighborhoods affordable. But it might be making things worse.


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