Engaging Ideas - 6/2/2017

Every week we curate stories and reports on complex issues. This week: Finding common ground through video chat. Political foes go on a blind date in the UK. Even doctors struggle to estimate cost of care. The importance of community colleges and what some states are doing to help. And fighting inequality in the K-12 system.


How Twitter Is Being Gamed to Feed Misinformation (The New York Times)
Twitter’s design also promotes a slavish devotion to metrics: Every tweet comes with a counter of Likes and Retweets, and users come to internalize these metrics as proxies for real-world popularity. Yet these metrics can be gamed. Because a single Twitter user can create lots of accounts and run them all in a coordinated way, Twitter lets relatively small groups masquerade as far larger ones. If Facebook’s primary danger is its dissemination of fake stories, then Twitter’s is a ginning up of fake people.

We, the people, must demand civility from our politicians (The Hill)
We all know that the bitter, vicious turn politics has taken isn’t going to change until we demand it. Reasoned discussion, which can occasionally lead to raised voices, is part of living in a democracy. But we must hold the people seeking our votes to the highest of standards and make them act like the leaders they claim to be or refuse them the job they seek by not giving them our votes.

Election blind dates: John Whittingdale and Jess Phillips (BBC)
An experiment in the UK: What happens when two strong-minded individuals from opposite sides of the political debate sit down for dinner?


Can Talking to a Stranger Change Your Life? (NBC News)
A new project connects strangers from all over the world in one-on-one video conversations about their lives and perspectives.

What If Politicians Studied the Social Fabric Like Economists Studied GDP? (The Atlantic)
One of Washington’s most conservative legislators on an age of polarization, inequality, and fragmentation.

K-12 Education

The Political Classroom: Evidence and Ethics in Democratic Education (Spencer Foundation)
In their book, Diana Hess and Paula McAvoy argue that schools are, and ought to be, political sites — places that engage students in deliberations about questions that ask, "How should we live together?"

Education Today (RealClearEducation Newsletter)
As a new and highly consequential case moves toward the Supreme Court, teachers' unions are bracing for some dramatic changes. Mike Antonucci of The 74 examines how teachers' unions are preparing to lose thousands of members. And if you want to get into the weeds of ESSA, Matthew Di Carlo takes a deep dive into how states can improve accountability measurements in their ESSA implementation plans.

Our Schools Have an Equity Problem. What Should We Do About It? (Education Week)
Just as our federal education laws have changed and evolved, so too have our nation's demographics. It is significant that the federal role is downsized just as economic inequality is at its highest and mobility from poverty is at its lowest since the ESEA was enacted.

A Bipartisan Approach to School Funding Boosts Equity (Education Week)
When Nevada's Republican governor, Brian Sandoval, was re-elected in 2014, the GOP won majorities in both houses of the legislature for the first time in 85 years. In 2015, the governor bucked party orthodoxy and crossed the political divide to broaden the tax base and fund his education initiatives. These initiatives include boosting early education and attending to the state's depleted teacher ranks. As a result, funding for specific pre-K-12 programs will more than double, to $1.3 billion, during his eight-year tenure, which ends in 2019.

Higher Education & Workforce Development

On Second Thought: U.S. Adults Reflect on Their Education Decisions (Gallup-Strada Education Network)
This report -- the first of a three-year series that will explore individuals' perceptions of their education paths -- provides initial insights and sets a foundation to help students most effectively and efficiently achieve their economic and personal goals. This first look focuses on three key questions asked of U.S. adults who previously enrolled in or completed postsecondary education or training.

The Case for Community College (Time)
Without a particular career in mind, Anderson enrolled at Lake Area Technical Institute (LATI) in Watertown, S.D., a relatively inexpensive two-year college 30 minutes from his home. There, his classrooms were hangar-size spaces filled with wind turbines, solar panels, ethanol distillers and miniature hydroelectric dams. It seemed more like his dad's garage, where Anderson would spend hours tinkering with his 1971 Chevrolet pickup truck, than a place to learn math. But trigonometry began making sense when you used it to fit together piping systems. Basic computer code seemed worth learning when you could program an assembly-line robot.

Mass. Gov and Boston Mayor Announce Tuition-Free College Pilot Program (AP)
In an era of increased political polarization, here's a noteworthy story out of Massachusetts: Republican Governor Charlie Baker and Marty Walsh, the Democratic Mayor of Boston, have joined together to launch a tuition-free college program for low-income students in Boston. The Boston Bridge program will commence for 2017 high school graduates. To qualify, students must meet the federal Pell Grant income standards and then enroll full time at Bunker Hill Community College, Roxbury Community College or Mass Bay Community College. According to the AP, "The students will be required to complete their associates’ degrees within two and a half years before transferring to state public colleges or state universities."

College Access Index Shows Shrinking Levels of Economic Diversity (NPR)
NPR's Robert Siegel speaks with New York Times columnist David Leonhardt about how this year's college access index shows that economic diversity is shrinking at American colleges.

Health Care

Few Clinicians Accurately Estimate Costs of Emergency Care (American Journal of Managed Care)
Healthcare professionals working in the emergency department may be unaware of the costs of the care they deliver, according to a new study that asked clinicians to guess the cost of 3 hypothetical visits.


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