ON THE AGENDA | JUNE 10TH, 2016 | Public Agenda

Engaging Ideas - 6/10

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, education, health care and urban housing.


Why inequality is worse for your wallet than a weak economy (Wonkblog)

Two trends have socked American workers over the past three decades. The economy has grown more slowly than it did in the decades after World War II, and the growth we’ve seen has disproportionately boosted the incomes of the very rich. Both trends are important, but in a new paper, a liberal economist argues that one of them was far more consequential for the vast majority of Americans. The economist, Joshua Bivens, is the research and policy director at the Economic Policy Institute. In his paper, he builds two alternate realities of the American economy from 1979 to 2007 (the eve of the Great Recession) to tease out whether slowing growth or widening inequality did more to depress incomes for the bottom 90 percent of U.S. workers.

Living in a poor neighborhood changes everything about your life (Vox)

We often talk about increasing wealth inequality, with the rich getting richer and poor getting poorer. That's certainly a problem, but something we should be even more concerned about is what is happening to our neighborhoods. There are now more extremely poor neighborhoods and more extremely rich neighborhoods. We're seeing two divergent Americas, one with money, and one without — and the one without is largely black. And the residents of that America are increasingly living in neighborhoods of extreme poverty, where 40 percent of residents live below the poverty line.

The world’s most elite conference this year will discuss something called “the precariat” (Quartz)

The what? The “precariat” is a term popularized by British economist Guy Standing, describing a growing class of people who feel insecure in their jobs, communities, and life in general. They are the perpetual part-timers, the minimum-wagers, the temporary foreign workers, the grey-market domestics paid in cash, the techno-impoverished whose piecemeal work has no office and no end, the seniors who struggle with dwindling benefits, the indigenous people who are kept outside, the single mothers without support, the cash labourers who have no savings, the generation for whom a pension and a retirement is neither available nor desired.

K-12 Education

At 25th Anniversary Mark, Author of First Charter School Law Reflects on Movement (EdWeek)

Saturday marked the 25th anniversary of the passing of the first charter school law in the country. Ember Reichgott Junge is the former Democratic state senator who authored the charter school legislation, which was signed into law in Minnesota on June 4th. She says, "I think we missed a couple of things in our original vision. We missed, first of all, that we needed to pay more attention to the authorizers or sponsors and to make sure they were well trained and to understand their role better. Not only are they compliance oriented, which they should be to hold the charter schools accountable, but they also need to be supportive in the sense of helping the school to be creative."

Homework Inequality: The Value of Having a Parent Around After School (The Atlantic)

When it comes to schoolwork, there is a chasm separating students with parents who have predictable work schedules and those whose parents don’t.

U.S. House Bill Seeks to Improve Portability of Teacher Licenses (EdWeek)

State-specific rules are often well intentioned, but there are drawbacks, too. In setting such detailed requirements, states have made it harder to alleviate teacher shortages by tapping teachers in nearby states. Minnesota's review of out-of-state credentials got so complicated that more than a dozen teachers sued. And in spite of all the red tape, state vetting has often failed to flag teachers with records of misconduct.

Community Colleges, Rural Schools Partner to Boost College Readiness (EdWeek)

Teachers in five rural eastern Washington school districts will receive help preparing their students for college through a new partnership between the districts and local community colleges, according to the Pacific Northwest Inlander. Community Colleges of Spokane, a network of two community colleges and six rural education sites, will send faculty members to work with teachers in local rural districts and help those teachers identify and teach struggling students. The partnership aims to boost college-readiness so more students will be successful in college. Officials involved with the program say it could also boost the number of students who are able to enroll in dual-enrollment courses and earn college credit while still in high school.

Higher Education

Room for Debate: Should For-Profit Colleges Be Able to Benefit From the G.I. Bill? (The New York Times)

Responses from Mark Schneider a former commissioner of the National Center for Education Statistics, a vice president and institute fellow at the American Institutes for Research and the president of College Measures; Joyce Raezer, the executive director of the National Military Family Association; Shawn A. Mann, director of military enrollment management at Thomas Edison State University in Trenton, N.J.; and Robert Shireman, a senior fellow at the Century Foundation.

Essay: Why Faculty Advising Matters (Inside Higher Ed)

Students like Nayla Kidd at Columbia University might not disappear from college if they had the opportunity to have meaningful relationships with faculty advisers, argues Claire Potter.

Improving Credit Mobility for Community College Transfer Students (Education Northwest)

This study investigates the issue of credit mobility in 10 states: California, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Tennessee, Texas, and Washington. It provides a unique opportunity to understand multiple policy approaches to credit mobility and how these policies play out and, potentially, break down at the campus level. The study utilizes qualitative data from policy documents and legislative statutes, phone interviews across the 10 states, and interview data collected during site visits to two- and four-year colleges in Texas, Washington, and Tennessee.

Health Care

Why Do Health Costs Keep Rising? These People Know (The New York Times)

The Geisinger Health Plan, run by one of the nation’s top-rated health care organizations, foresees medical costs increasing next year by 7.5 percent for people buying insurance under the Affordable Care Act. So when Geisinger requested a rate increase of 40 percent for 2017, consumer advocates were amazed. And Kurt J. Wrobel, Geisinger’s chief actuary, found himself, along with other members of his profession, in the middle of the health care wars still raging in this political year. Actuaries normally toil far from the limelight, anonymous technicians stereotyped as dull and boring. But as they crunch the numbers for their Affordable Care Act business, their calculations are feeding a roaring national debate over insurance premiums, widely used to gauge the success of President Obama’s health care law.

This Med School Teaches Health Policy Along With The Pills (NPR)

Medical students cram a lot of basic science and medicine into their first two years of training. But most learn next to nothing about the intricacies of the health care system they will soon enter. That's something the medical school at George Washington University in Washington, D.C., is trying to remedy. "Clinicians today have to graduate being great providers of individual care," says Dr. Lawrence Deyton, the senior associate dean who's spearheading the new curriculum. "But they also have to recognize and be able to act on the fact that their patients, when they leave the clinic or leave the hospital, are going home [and] living in situations where there are all kinds of factors that promote and perpetuate chronic disease."

Tackling the Dragon of Hospital Price Disparity: Massachusetts’s On-Going Efforts to Address Price Equity (National Law Review)

Price disparities among hospitals pose one of the more intractable issues for policy makers, regulators and the government. That they exist is indisputable. Why they exist is a source of much contention. And the issue creates great disunity within the hospital world, causing fissures especially between academic medical centers and community hospitals. Massachusetts, which has the perhaps unwelcome distinction of generally being in the forefront of key health policy initiatives, has a history of trying to analyze and understand hospital price disparities, and, even more challenging, trying to do something about them. Recent action, described in more detail below, comes on the heels of earlier commissions, studies and discussions probing the issue.

What Is Value-Based Care, What It Means for Providers? (RevCycleIntelligence)

Value-based care has emerged as an alternative and potential replacement for fee-for-service reimbursement based on quality rather than quantity.


Urban planning is a wicked game, but public deliberation helps (Science Daily)

"We saw a good link between urban planning and the Citizens' Juries carried out beforehand. They were based on the idea of deliberative democracy. We analyzed how the Citizens' Juries can bring new players -- citizens -- to the wicked game of urban planning. Citizens' perspective is easy to forget as usually the experts play the game." The four Citizens' Juries analyzed were carried out in different kinds of cities in Finland.


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