ON THE AGENDA | JULY 8TH, 2016 | Public Agenda

Engaging Ideas - 7/8

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 people trying to save democracy from itself (The Guardian)
New experiments in democracy around the world are trying to take politics back to ordinary people.


How Anti-Growth Sentiment, Reflected in Zoning Laws, Thwarts Equality (The New York Times)
A growing body of economic literature suggests that anti-growth sentiment, when multiplied across countless unheralded local development battles, is a major factor in creating a stagnant and less equal American economy. It has even to some extent changed how Americans of different incomes view opportunity.


Why political participation falls short, and how to fix it (Ford Foundation)
Every election cycle, there’s a lot of talk about how to increase U.S. voter turnout. A new report looks beyond that familiar question and explains what it will take to make participation meaningful—and have a true, lasting impact.

Participatory Budgeting In The 50th Ward? Residents Push For Referendum (DNAinfo)
Some residents in the 50th ward are trying to gather enough signatures for a November referendum to bring participatory budgeting to the community.

K-12 Education

Five Ways to Increase Teacher Agency in Professional Development (Edutopia)
For many educators, "professional development has long been an empty exercise in compliance," according to a recent white paper from Learning Forward and the National Commission on Teaching and America's Future (NCTAF). The recommended change: greater attention to teacher agency.

Interest in Teaching Continues to Drop Among High School Students (EdWeek)
An ACT survey of high school graduates who took its college-entrance exam shows that in the class of 2015, only 4 percent said they planned to become teachers, counselors, or administrators. In 2014, 5 percent said they had such plans, and in 2010, 7 percent did. Twenty years ago, 9 percent of high school students who took the ACT said they were planning education careers.

Detroit District Splits to Try to Fix Troubled System (EdWeek)
Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder touts the move as a fresh start for the city's beleaguered schools, but doubts remain amid ongoing enrollment loss, dilapidated buildings, and low achievement.

Higher Education

Op-ed: College Kids, With Kids (The New York Times)
Jamie Merisotis and Anne-Marie Slaughter write: "Hillary Clinton has proposed awarding up to a million student-parents $1,500 per year for expenses like child care and transportation. This would help, but other changes are needed. Allowing students to receive aid in regular installments over the course of the school year — much as they would a paycheck — rather than up front enables parents to better manage the myriad expenses they face. And offering a small amount of support for unexpected expenses midyear — so-called emergency aid — would also help."

How Does a State College Survive, and Thrive, on Emergency Funding? (The Chronicle of Higher Education)
After Gov. Bruce V. Rauner of Illinois signed into law a temporary budget to keep state institutions afloat for another six months, public colleges and universities may have exhaled a sigh of relief. Budget battles like this one also don’t bode well for parents and students shopping for colleges, said Matt Hamill, from the National Association of College and University Business Officers.

The Typical College Student Is Not Who You Think It Is (The Atlantic)
What percentage graduated from high school and enrolled within a year at a four year institution where they live on campus?

Job Training Works. So Why Not Do More? (The New York Times)
For some reason, this is a strategy the United States has not pursued earnestly in quite a long time. That looks like a mistake. MDRC last week released the preliminary assessment of an experiment called WorkAdvance. WorkAdvance offered targeted sectoral training programs for low-income workers in New York City, as well as in Tulsa, Okla., and northeast Ohio. Their results were heartening. After two years, participants made 14 percent more on average than workers in a control group, who did not benefit from the new approach. That amounts to $1,945 a year.

Health Care

New Oregon report lifts veil on hospital rates (State of Reform)
A new report by the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) published on Tuesday offers a revealing look at how different commercial health plans negotiate varying payments for medical procedures to hospitals. The report shows a wide range in payments between and even within hospitals for the same procedure, shedding light on how some patients end up paying more than others depending on the rates their insurance company has agreed to pay. The first-of-its-kind annual report — mandated under legislation passed by the Oregon state legislature in 2015 — aims to provide a source of transparency to the public on hospital prices.

Secret Shoppers Find Access To Providers And Network Accuracy Lacking For Those In Marketplace And Commercial Plans (Health Affairs)
Insured patients are having a hard time scheduling doctor visits. That's according to researchers who conducted a secret-shopper study of patients covered by California's two largest insurers. Their key takeaway: Network adequacy issues are paramount, as less than a third of patients were able to schedule an appointment with their preferred physician.

Personalized Recommendation Engines Are Coming to Health Care (Harvard Business Review)
The best online retailers offer customers a curated and highly personalized shopping experience. They empower shoppers with in-depth product information and peer opinions and seem to know what a consumer is looking for before the person asks for it – and sometimes even before she or he knows they want it. Now, healthcare companies are experimenting with digital capabilities to see if they can encourage a similar level of influence in people’s lives. By doing so, they are testing the limits of the potential power of repurposing online retail innovations that consumers have become accustomed to in varied industries and potentially revamping healthcare in the process.

The Next Big Debate in Health Care (The Wall Street Journal)
Drew Altman writes: With 91% of the population now covered by some form of health insurance, and the coverage rate higher in some states, the next big debate in health policy could be about the adequacy of coverage. That particularly means rising payments for deductibles and their impact on family budgets and access to care. This is about not just Obamacare but also the many more people who get insurance through an employer.


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