Engaging Ideas - 7/21/2017

Every week we curate stories and reports on complex issues. This week: Ranking countries on their commitment to reducing inequality. What happened to the Grand Bargain? The importance of civic engagement. Why principals avoid giving bad ratings to teachers. It’s hard finding candidates to run for office in parts of Connecticut. Is trade school all it’s cracked up to be?


Despite Political Differences, Two High School Teachers Find Common Ground (KQED News)
Two teachers — Brandon Johnson and Ysidro Valenzuela — talk about the intersection of politics and education.

At end of NRA protest march, a bit of common ground (Washington Post)
Men sported National Rifle Association hats and signs declaring “free speech is under attack” and “no jihad against our freedoms.” Then, for a few minutes at least, the median became common ground. Paul Jutte, who attended the Women’s March with his girlfriend, crossed Pennsylvania Avenue to join the counterprotesters.

The End of the Grand Bargain (National Review)
The spirit of bipartisan compromise, never strong in recent years, has vanished completely on Capitol Hill.



There's a large group of Americans missing out on the American dream (Business Insider)
While education continues to be an important determinant of whether one can climb the economic ladder, sizable differences in economic outcomes across race and ethnicity remain even after controlling for educational attainment.

Which countries are the most (and least) committed to reducing inequality? (The Guardian)
The UK’s lack of investment in education and low tax rates put it 17th in a new Oxfam inequality index – which ranks Sweden top out of 152 countries, and Nigeria bottom


In Parts Of Connecticut, Interest In Running For Local Office On The Decline (Hartford Courant)
As Republicans and Democrats hold local caucuses to select candidates for the November municipal elections, some cities and towns report a surge of interest in response to the election of Donald Trump as president. But others say the nasty nature of national politics, and Connecticut's budget woes, are turning people off.

Why Civic Engagement Matters (National Civic League)
Where there is inclusive civic engagement, in which everyone has a place at the table to define, direct and implement public services and amenities, there is greater civic pride and responsibility, which then lead to sustained community wellbeing.

K-12 Education

Principals Are Loath to Give Teachers Bad Ratings (Education Week)
Principals continue to rate nearly all teachers as “effective,” despite states’ efforts in recent years to make evaluations tougher, two new studies show.

High-stakes testing may push struggling teachers to younger grades, hurting students (Chalkbeat)
Kindergarten, first grade, and second grade are often free of the high-stakes testing common in later grades — but those years are still high-stakes for students’ learning and development. That means it’s a big problem when schools encourage their least effective teachers to work with their youngest students. And a new study says that the pressure of school accountability systems may be encouraging exactly that.

Higher Education & Workforce Development

New rankings measuring the outcome of college (Sante Fe New Mexican)
What parents and students really want to know is how to differentiate the outcomes of the thousands of other colleges that are not among the top schools in the U.S. News rankings. A spate of new rankings and other studies have emerged in recent years attempting to answer that question by looking more closely at the employment and earnings record of college graduates and weighing that against the cost of attending college and chances of graduating on time.

The Trouble With Trade School (New York Times)
Across the political spectrum, just about everyone seems to be in favor of expanding vocational education. The idea makes a lot of sense, too. But I’m worried that the idea of vocational education has become so popular — backed by Presidents Trump and Obama — that its advocates have not thought through the potential downsides.

Health Care

As academic hospitals lower mortality rates, should insurers reconsider excluding them? (San Francisco Chronicle)
A comprehensive new study has found that major teaching hospitals in the United States outperformed non-teaching hospitals in the most important of all health care outcomes: reducing mortality rates. Using a traditional measure of surgical quality, the study analyzed mortality rates for 21 million Medicare patients who were hospitalized with one of the 15 most common medical diagnoses or who underwent one of the six most common surgical procedures.

Mirror, Mirror 2017:International Comparison Reflects Flaws and Opportunities for Better U.S. Health Care (Commonwealth Fund)
Poor access to primary care has contributed to inadequate prevention and management of chronic diseases, delayed diagnoses, incomplete adherence to treatments, wasteful overuse of drugs and technologies, and coordination and safety problems.


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