Engaging Ideas - 6/9/2017

Every week we curate stories and reports on complex issues. This week: Should we be stressed about American Politics? What could happen if we adopt a universal basic income. It’s not just the one percent who are pulling away from the pack. Support for first-gen students from first-gen faculty. Not completing college in four years can cost you. What civic tech can mean for governments and their constituents.


Comey Testimony a Prism for Viewing American Politics (New York Times)
For some, the proceedings were seen through the prism of the partisan divide. For others, they were less about Democrats and Republicans than about a dystopian sense that American governance has veered off the rails.

We’re Not in a Civil War, but We Are Drifting Toward Divorce (National Review)
At an increasing rate, Americans separate themselves into culturally and ideologically homogeneous enclaves.

Frank Denton: Is stress taking a toll on democracy? (The Florida Times-Union)
Between the presidential campaign last summer and January, the overall average stress levels of Americans intensified from 4.8 to 5.1 on a scale of 1-10 — the first significant increase in the 10 years of the APA Stress in America survey.


It’s not just the money; it’s the instability (Boston Globe)
Everyone’s seen the charts that document yawning income inequalities in the United States. The picture around wealth inequality is worse. But a large and growing number of Americans suffer because of a third gap — between those who enjoy financial stability and those who don’t.

The American dream? Top 20% pulling away from the rest, study finds (The Guardian)
Economics professor Richard Reeves says the upper middle are ‘opportunity hoarding’ – and pulling up the drawbridge behind them.

What happens if you replace every social program with a universal basic income (Vox)
As two big new reports on the impact of basic income show, “how would we fund it” is a massively important question.

Using Mapping to Understand Gentrification, Prevent Displacement (Government Technology)
A number of cities have found mapping to be a powerful tool for observing gentrification trends, allowing them to intervene before low-income residents are seriously affected.


For the People: Improving Governments with Technology (Harvard Political Review)
Civic tech is a somewhat nebulous concept. Most people define it only in terms of technology and government.

Can direct democracy reenergize West's disillusioned voters? (Christian Science Monitor)
Innovative activists across Europe and the US are launching experiments to involve people more actively in political life, though with some mixed results.

K-12 Education

Lots of people are excited about career and technical education. But new international research points to a potential downside (Chalkbeat)
Trump’s budget actually cuts CTE funding, but, at least in theory, there’s wide support across the ideological spectrum for helping more students learn career-specific skills in high school. Yet new international research points to a significant downside of such programs.

New study shows school reform efforts didn't pay off in Michigan (Michigan Radio)
A school reform plan implemented in Michigan in 2012 didn't actually improve schools. That’s according to a new working paper published this week by the National Bureau of Economic Research.

Higher Education & Workforce Development

First-Gen Faculty (Inside Higher Ed)
University of California plan forges connections between students and professors who were the first in their families to attend a four-year institution.

College grads face next hurdle: Paying back student loans (Washington Post)
After all their hard work, the college class of 2017 is finally enjoying the real world and all its “perks,” including having to pay back their student loans.

The High Price of Not Completing College in Four Years (Wall Street Journal)
How can you save over $20,000 on college costs? Graduate on time. At four-year schools, only about 40% of full-time students graduate on time, according to the National Center for Education Statistics, part of the U.S. Department of Education.

IBM is Partnering With More Community Colleges to Train Tech Workers (Fortune)
IBM announced Wednesday that it is expanding its partnerships with community colleges in an effort to train more workers for what the company describes as "new collar jobs"—skilled positions in fast growing tech fields that don't necessarily require a traditional four-year degree.

Health Care

Worried sick about your health care? You’re not alone (Bankrate)
While politicians battle over whether to dump Obamacare in favor of a “Trumpcare” replacement, the country is in the grips of a bad case of health care insecurity.

Is value-based care making a difference? (Healthcare Dive)
Early results on value-based payment initiatives show mixed results, but that may improve with time.

Teaching Hospitals Cost More, but Could Save Your Life (New York Times)
Perhaps not evident to many patients, there are two kinds of hospitals — teaching and nonteaching — and a raging debate about which is better.


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