Engaging Ideas - 8/18/2017

Every week we curate stories and reports on complex issues. This week: Videos from PBS give a better look at the nationís divide. Do doctors want single-payer health care? Five key figures that define the middle class. A classroom with no grades and no failing? Posting your political fears and worries on social media is burning you out. Civic engagement isnít easy.


Understanding a Divided America (PBS)
Following the violent clashes between white nationalists and counter-protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia, PBS presents four films that take a closer look at the nation's divide.

The Senate subway: The new epicenter of American democracy? (Washington Post)
Itís a slightly comical transportation system in the bowels of the U.S. Capitol that few Americans know exists: the Senate subway system. Not subway like Metro ó but two sets of tracks that carry underground trams ferrying lawmakers from Senate chambers to their office buildings, less than a third of a mile away. And itís the unlikely backdrop to the tumultuous Capitol Hill legislative goings-on of the past seven months.

My road trip with a Republican: 2 strangers spend 14 hours in a car to talk through Americaís political divide (Salon)
To combat the hate I saw on the 2016 campaign trail, I went looking for common ground. Dave signed on for the ride.


OPINION: How I learned that civic engagement isnít as easy as it should be (Denverite)
Iíve always been an active voter in both national and municipal elections, but it wasnít until recently that I figured out just how much of the day-to-day decision-making by entities like City Council is open to the public.

Could Innovation in Democratic Participation Shake us Out of Our Civil Disillusionment? (Pacific Standard)
History proves that, when governments listen, citizens reward them both politically and financially.


Children of the 1% are 77 times more likely to attend an Ivy League school than poor Americans (Business Insider)
"Access to colleges varies greatly by parent income," writes Raj Chetty of Stanford University and four co-authors. "Children whose parents are in the top 1% of the income distribution are 77 times more likely to attend an Ivy League college than those whose parents are in the bottom income quintile."

When Families Lead Themselves Out of Poverty (New York Times)
Seventeen years ago, Mauricio Lim Miller, a leader in the field of social services, received a phone call from Jerry Brown, who was the mayor of Oakland, Calif., at the time, that set him on a quest to understand how families really overcome poverty.

5 Figures That Define the Middle Class (Madison News)
The middle class is often thought of as the backbone of the American economy -- and decades ago it was. Today, however, the American middle class has become a shadow of what it once was. A number of changes and challenges, including poor saving habits, stagnant wage growth, and growing income inequality, has altered the shape of middle-class America.

K-12 Education

A New Kind of Classroom: No Grades, No Failing, No Hurry (New York Times)
Moheeb is part of a new program that is challenging the way teachers and students think about academic accomplishments, and his school is one of hundreds that have done away with traditional letter grades inside their classrooms.

How community trauma can harm student learning ó and what that might mean for Charlottesville (Chalkbeat)
Among the many consequences of this weekendís events in Charlottesville: teachers are wondering how the violent displays of racism will affect their students.

Higher Education & Workforce Development

Colleges ponder: Are remedial classes the best way to help? (Christian Science Monitor)
Lulu Matute still remembers the sinking sensation she felt when she heard the news. It was the fall of 2012, and Ms. Matute had just taken the placement exam that gauged every prospective college studentís skill in math and English. She had hoped to earn her associateís degree at the City College of San Francisco (CCSF) and transfer to a four-year institution within two years. ďBut based on the layout my counselor gave me, I was going to be there for three and a half, because I was starting at the lowest-level math,Ē she says.

Work-Force Training in an Anti-College Climate (Inside Higher Ed)
Community colleges stress their role in providing work-force opportunities amid doubts from some working-class people that college won't benefit them or their children.

Health Care

Can Healthcare Price Transparency Tools Cut Costs for Payers? (HealthPayer Intelligence)
Healthcare price transparency tools may only offer savings to payers if insurance companies improve utilization rates.

Diagnosing America's Health Care Mess: Part 3 (Forbes)
Today we will examine the consequences of this outsized growth in health spending: health care spending absorbs an ever-growing fraction of the economy and government spending.

Doctors Coming Around To Single-Payer Healthcare (Forbes)
Citing simplicity, fewer hassles with insurers and more stable coverage for patients, U.S. physicians increasingly support a single-payer healthcare system, new reports indicate.


Comment on this article.

Recent Blogs


Public Agenda knows what it takes to fuel progress on critical issues.
We need your support to keep things moving!

Join the Community


Take Action