ON THE AGENDA | AUGUST 12TH, 2016 | Public Agenda

Engaging Ideas - 8/12

A weekly collection of stories, reports and news to spark consideration on ways to make progress on divisive issues.

Every week we curate stories and reports on complex issues including democracy, public engagement, opportunity, education and health care.


Hopelessly Divided? Think Again. (Moyers & Company)
Instead of lamenting our divisions, let’s celebrate what we agree on and find candidates willing to address what's blocking cooperation.

Can Citizen Governance Save Our Republic? (Governing)
Some governments are moving to give citizens more of a direct role in policymaking. It's a promising experiment. According to Public Agenda, 70,000 Americans and Canadians in 22 cities voted last year on how to spend nearly $50 million through participatory budgeting.

The Nerd’s Dream Guide to the U.S. Constitution (The Atlantic)
If you’ve been meaning to do this reading for a while, now really is the time to do it. The more citizens who take seriously their roles as stewards of our fundamental law, the less likely it becomes that the values of due process, equal protection, civic equality, and self-government can be obliterated by the screams of an angry mob.

Public Opinion

How did Marist, Monmouth, Suffolk and Quinnipiac get known for political polling? (Washington Post)
Americans addicted to political polls can get their fix these days from a growing number of colleges and universities that measure the ups and downs of presidential candidates Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton in a tumultuous election year. But the leaders in this expansion of academic polling are hardly household names outside of politics. For these schools, polling in a polarized America yields a marketing bonanza akin to what others might reap through college football bowl games or the NCAA basketball tournament. They are building brands through surveys of political battlegrounds.


Are Low-Skill Workers America's Next Great Economic Resource? (The Atlantic)
Some economists think that continued GDP growth will require restoring a struggling segment of the labor force to where it was before the recession.

Jobs Key to Economic Growth Expanding Unevenly Across U.S. (Governing)
According to a new report, some regions are adding high-skill, high-paying jobs, while others are seeing them decline.

K-12 Education

NCSL Education Report: There’s No Time to Lose (National Conference of State Legislatures)
What can we learn from Singapore, Finland and Poland? A great deal, members of the NCSL international study group on education reform told hundreds of attendees during a jam-packed session at the Legislative Summit in Chicago on Tuesday.

Door-to-door dropout prevention (Politico Morning Newsletter)
Two Arizona mayors and more than 100 volunteers are knocking on the doors of high school dropouts this month to convince them to come back to school. The initiative, called Steps to Success, started in Tucson in 2014. Since then, volunteers, community officials and even local college athletes have joined together to contact more than 900 students and re-enroll 384 of them over the course of four door-knocking sessions. John Kramkowski, who works on dropout prevention for the Tucson district, said the retention rate for students who re-enroll is about 84 percent. Sixty-four of the 384 students have graduated so far, and many more are still chipping away at their credits.

Just Paying Teachers More Won’t Stop Them From Quitting (The Atlantic)
Most educators don’t leave the classroom for higher pay.

Report: Who Opts Out and Why (Teachers College)
Researchers from Teachers College at Columbia University find in a new survey that the "opt out" movement is fueled by opposition to student test performance being used to evaluate teachers, and a belief that standardized tests lead to teachers "teaching to the tests."

Higher Education

Stress and Student Success (Inside Higher Ed)
We in higher education now serve more students with more stress than ever before, yet we have done little to learn about the strategies to help them better manage it, argues Karen Costa.

College Presidents As Stewards Of Democracy (The Huffington Post)
Harry Boyte writes: Work with a group of 15 past and present college and university presidents interested in developing an alternative “democracy voice” in higher education, convened by the Kettering Foundation, has made me aware of another role for presidents beyond issue advocates: stewards of democracy who revitalize the idea that citizens are co-creators of educational communities and of a democratic way of life.

Recent college grads face a tough job market (Crain's New York)
New survey finds that 52% of CEOs in New York City aren't looking to hire fresh graduates. The survey was conducted by Vistage Worldwide, an executive-coaching network that provides leadership training to CEOs.

A Year In, Students Have Range of Tennessee Promise Stories (The Tennessean)
The Tennessean began following several students through the Tennessee Promise program, a “free community college” program that provides both scholarships and mentoring, early in 2015. Their stories illustrate some of the ways the program has shaped lives across the state.

Inspector General Again Takes on Competency-Based Education (Politico Morning Newsletter)
The Education Department’s Inspector General again weighed in on the thorny regulatory issues that surround how federal funding flows to competency-based education programs. At issue is whether competency-based programs offered outside of a campus setting should be classified as “distance education” or “correspondence education.” The distinction, which is based on the level of faculty involvement, has important implications for how much federal student aid students in such programs are eligible to receive.

Health Care

Obama's Health Secretary Wants To Make Patients Healthier By Transforming How Doctors And Hospitals Get Paid (The Los Angeles Times)
Largely out of the spotlight, Obama administration officials have labored on a sweeping project to transform the way America’s doctors, hospitals and other medical providers deliver care. The foundation of this effort involves scrapping the way medicine has traditionally been paid for – a system akin to auto repair in which each service a doctor or hospital provides is billed separately, no matter how well it is performed and what the long-term outcome is. In place of that, the Obama administration is trying to build a system that pays doctors, hospitals and others based on how their patients recover and how much their care costs.

Price transparency a struggle, even among states with who offer option for price comparison (Healthcare Finance)
Even for states that have managed to institute some kind of method for consumers to compare prices for healthcare services, patients have few options for finding current pricing on common procedures. That's what a study from the nonprofit advocacy group Public Citizen shows. The major findings of the study paint a rather dim picture. Only six states, specifically California, Colorado, Maine, New Hampshire, Virginia, and West Virginia, provide some way for consumers to compare prices. Of those states, few provide adequate cost information for the most common procedures.

How Common Procedures Became 20 Percent Cheaper for Many Californians (The Upshot)
The state’s public employee retirement system managed to slash prices for things like knee and hip replacements, but the strategy has limits.

Overcoming Lower-Income Patients’ Concerns About Trust And Respect From Providers (Health Affairs Blog)
For our Right Place, Right Time research initiative, launched in January 2016, we interviewed vulnerable patients, including low-income patients, the uninsured, family caregivers, and non-English speakers, to learn their most urgent concerns about the health care system and the information they need to make health decisions. We expected to hear that health care information was too confusing and price information was difficult to find—and we have—but the issue lower-income participants were most passionate about surprised us: they reported widespread distrust of the health care system and the feeling that they were seen as “less than” by health care professionals.


Tokyo may have found the solution to soaring housing costs (Vox)
Tokyo does a better job of allowing housing supply to keep up with housing demand. In 2014, Tokyo issued permits for 142,417 new housing units. In contrast, the entire state of California — which has three times the population of Tokyo — issued permits for only 83,657 new housing units. Little wonder that demand for housing has outstripped supply in the Bay Area.

Why cities need to care more about works in them, not just who lives in them (Wonkblog)
Often, the people most affected by new housing have no say over it.


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