ON THE AGENDA | JULY 1ST, 2016 | Public Agenda

Engaging Ideas - 7/1

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.


The remarkable parallels between the Brexit vote and the rise of Donald Trump (Washington Post)
The stunning decision by Britons to exit the E.U. — and the underlying sentiments that led to this shocking result — are the stuff that Americans should not only pay attention to but should also understand as motivated by the same emotions that have fueled the equally remarkable rise of presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump in our own political system.

Creating Simpler, More Effective Government Services for Everyone (GovLab)
For technology to have its intended effects on the public good, government must recognize that technology “is not something you buy, it’s something you do,” argues Jen Pahlka (founder and executive director of Code for America and former U.S. Deputy Chief Technology Officer).   

What it’s like to be a political moderate working in a ridiculously polarized Senate (Vox.com)
The Senate I observed was not the one I’d hoped for, and it didn’t seem orderly. For some pieces of legislation, senators could file virtually unlimited amendments, so that several hundred amendments might be filed for a single bill. And under closely held schedules, one never knew which ones might be called to the floor at any given time. It wasn’t a recipe for serious policymaking.

Do Digital News Feeds Threaten or Enhance Deliberative Democracy? (The Atlantic)
An expression of concern about the algorithms that shape what Americans read before they vote.


A Strong Middle Class Doesn’t Just Happen Naturally (The Atlantic)
In the 20th century, America invested in policies that created widespread prosperity. Can the country do so again?


How is education policy being made in New York State? Pass it first, take public comment later (Chalkbeat)
In recent months, New York's Board of Regents has reshaped the state's teacher-evaluation law and changed the graduation requirements for students with disabilities — all with barely any public input. It's done so by using emergency regulations, in a trend that critics say raises red flags.

After 25 Years, What's Next For Charter Schools? (NPR)
The major advocacy group for charter schools is meeting this week in Nashville, Tenn., and there's lots to celebrate. What began with a single state law in Minnesota has spread to a national movement of nearly 6,800 schools, serving just under 3 million students. But at its annual meeting, the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools is also using the moment to call for a fresh look at how these innovative public schools are managed and how they're held accountable.

A New Argument for More Diverse Classrooms (The Atlantic)
U.S. Education Secretary John King will argue that interactions with children from different backgrounds prepare students for the workforce.

Report: Looking Under the Hood of Competency-Based Education (American Institutes for Research)
The goal of this study was to rigorously examine the relationship between CBE practices and changes in learning capacities, defined as the skills, behaviors, and dispositions that enhance a student’s capacity to learn in school.

Higher Education & Workforce Development

Task force proposes changes in federal work-study financial-aid program (Hechinger Report)
A report from Public Agenda and the principal group of university financial-aid administrators is calling for a change in the federal work-study program that would steer more of the money to institutions with larger shares of lower-income students and less to long-established colleges with larger proportions of higher-income ones. The report also recommends doing more to ensure that incoming students promised work-study in their offers of financial aid actually get it.

Prisoners to Get 'Second Chance Pell' (Inside Higher Ed)
After receiving 200 applications, U.S. Education Department released a list of colleges that will offer need-based grants to prisoners pursuing a degree.

Could Microsoft's LinkedIn Revolutionize Competency-Based Learning? (eCampus News)
LinkedIn has the user data and focus on competency-based employment skills and career advancement. Microsoft has the computational ability to turn CBE into an HR goldmine. So will the Microsoft and LinkedIn pairing yield the innovation and validation needed to propel competency-based learning to its full revolutionary potential?

Community college students are filling the rolls at four-year institutions (Washington Post)
Public colleges and universities are drawing a large percentage of their students from community colleges, where nearly two-thirds of students transfer to a four-year institution, according to a report released Tuesday by the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center.

Listening at the Table (Inside Higher Ed - Confessions of a Community College Dean)
These students were not about to go on a college scorecard site and compare statistics from various places around the state. They wanted to be within fifteen minutes of home. In that sense, they struck me as pretty representative of the student body. For students who have significant work obligations, geography matters. These students are “commuters” in every sense of the word; a longer commute is unpaid time out of the day, as well as an expense in itself. In policy terms, these are students for whom the idea of colleges competing with each other across a state -- or between states -- would be nonsense.

Health Care

Americans are shouldering more and more of their health-care costs (Wonkblog)
Between 2009 and 2013, overall health-care spending grew at 2.9 percent per year, while the amount shouldered by insured patients when they were hospitalized grew more than twice as fast, according to the study published in JAMA Internal Medicine. Patients' out-of-pocket portion of their hospitalization costs rose 6.5 percent each year, from $738 on average in 2009 to more than $1,000 in 2013. To put that in perspective, consider the findings of a recent Federal Reserve survey, which found nearly half of Americans do not have enough money to cover a $400 emergency expense.

Blog: Prescription for physician-administrator distrust (Modern Healthcare)
The relationship between physicians and healthcare administrators “has never been more broken than it is today," CareMore Health System CEO Dr. Sachin Jain told healthcare administrators Tuesday at the Healthcare Financial Management Association's annual conference.

Zika Bill Is Blocked By Senate Democrats Upset Over Provisions (New York Times)
Senate Democrats on Tuesday blocked a federal spending bill that would have provided $1.1 billion to fight the mosquito-borne Zika virus, saying Republicans had sabotaged the legislation with politically charged provisions. The move raised the possibility that no new money would be available soon to fight the disease as Southern states brace for a summer outbreak. The stalemate, accompanied by a sharp war of words on the Senate floor, raised the prospect that the partisan divide in Congress was hindering the government’s ability to respond effectively to a pressing public health emergency.

California Drug Price Transparency Bill Clears Key Committee (California Healthline)
A measure that would compel pharmaceutical companies to disclose and justify drug price increases overcame a show of skepticism by Democratic lawmakers on Tuesday afternoon, passing the Assembly Health Committee 12-4 on a party-line vote. The bill — softened from earlier versions — would require drug manufacturers to notify state agencies and health insurers within days of federal approval for a new drug that cost $10,000 or more per year or for one course of treatment.


Housing Solutions (Next City)
Rents are high and vacancies are low across the U.S., and not only in hot markets. A number of trends have converged to make this reality, not least of which is a cultural shift away from purchasing homes. But even as we become a nation of renters, our public policies continue to favor homeowners and the American dream of decades past. That bias hurts cities and their most vulnerable populations. Today, a record 49.3 percent of renters spend more than 30 percent of their income on rent. It is a new high for the affordability crisis and one that demands new solutions. This ebook provides a look at five of those solutions being tested in cities today.

How a House Can Shape a Child’s Future (The Atlantic)
A new study from Cleveland looks at the correlations between living conditions and kindergarten readiness.


The City Where Mayors Still Run the Show (Governing)
Of all American towns, Baltimore gives its mayors some of the most control. Some hate that, yet attempts to change it have failed.

What the New President of Mayors Wants From the Next President of America (Governing)
The incoming leader of the U.S. Conference of Mayors talks about cities' relationship with the Obama administration and what he expects from the new one -- whether it's run by Clinton or Trump.


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