Engaging Ideas - 8/4/2017

Every week we curate stories and reports on complex issues. This week: Repairing the health law is not impossible, but pretty tricky. The latest on affirmative action. Summer brings sunshine, warm weather, and political debates from campus. New York politicians hop on the subway to see what it’s REALLY like. The sad state of government websites.


Minnesota Professor Hopes to Overcome Political Divide (US News & World Report)
A University of Minnesota professor is among those on a mission to mend the hostility between supporters and opponents of President Donald Trump.

Millennials aren’t taking over politics just yet (Washington Post)
At some point, the age of the baby boomer in American politics will end. It’s simple demographics: Boomers keep getting older and older, and that means there are fewer and fewer of them. But, contrary to two recent news articles, the boomer political era hasn’t ended yet — and it won’t end next year, either.

Campus Political Fights Come Home for the Summer (New York Times)
College in the summer: Dorms and quads are quiet, and it seems that the whole community is catching its breath. No marches, sit-ins, shout-downs, protesters giving professors whiplash. No arguments over free speech, Black Lives Matter, Israeli boycotts, abortion, Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton, President Trump. But the fighting hasn’t stopped. It has just come home for the summer.


Why Are Government Websites So Bad? (Governing)
Years ago, it took days to get our hands on basic government documents. We’d call someone who could send them to us, hope they would follow through and then wait for the U.S. Postal Service to do its job. When they didn’t arrive in a week or so, we’d repeat the process. These days, like many other researchers, journalists, policymakers and citizens, we rely on the troves of reports, budgets, data and plans that state and local governments post on their websites.

Pols. Take Marathon Subway Ride To Hear Commuter Complaints (New York City Patch)
“There should be more communication between officials and the working stiff," a retired iron worker said.


Americans Aren’t Saving Money Like They Used To (Bloomberg)
American households scaled back their pace of savings to the lowest level in nine years at the end of 2016 as the growth of their wages and salaries slowed, updated government figures show.

The Wealth Gap in the U.S. Is Worse Than In Russia or Iran (Fortune)
There's an widening gulf in the United States between the haves and the have-nots. The columnist points to education and metropolitan zoning restrictions as reinforcement for this unequal system, with statistics to support the argument. But how true is it? We asked urbanist, author, and University of Toronto professor Richard Florida to weigh in.

K-12 Education

One in four D.C. public schools have had at least three principals since 2012 (Washington Post)
More than a quarter of D.C. Public Schools have had at least three principals since August 2012, a pattern of upheaval that worries parents and teachers who say constant change in leadership can generate instability, inhibit trust and stall academic progress.

Do vouchers actually expand school choice? Not necessarily — it depends on how they’re designed (Chalkbeat)
Who benefits most from private school voucher programs: families with few options or the schools themselves? This is a hotly debated question among supporters and critics of school vouchers, and is especially relevant as U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos has vowed to allow more families to use public dollars to pay for private school tuition. A 2016 study considers this question and comes back with an answer: It depends.

Higher Education & Workforce Development

More Bootcamps Are Quietly Coming to a University Near You (EdSurge)
In the last two years, a surge of nonprofit, four-year institutions have hopped on the bootcamp bandwagon. These programs, often on skills such as software development or data analytics, have arrived in a number of ways—from universities partnering with local for-profit bootcamps, or colleges creating their own intensive training programs completely in-house.

Affirmative Action Battle Has a New Focus: Asian-Americans (New York Times)
Students like Mr. Jia are now the subject of a lawsuit accusing Harvard of discriminating against Asian-Americans in admissions by imposing a penalty for their high achievement and giving preferences to other racial minorities.

Maximizing Mobility (Inside Higher Ed)
Leveraging new data can help low-income students climb the economic ladder, writes Michael Lawrence Collins.

Health Care

We need to treat the causes of high health costs, not the symptoms (The Hill)
As Senate Republicans failed to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, the reality is that no measure that was actually considered would actually lower the costs of healthcare.

How to Repair the Health Law (It’s Tricky but Not Impossible) (New York Times)
Stabilizing the market, lowering drug prices and expanding access to

coverage would go a long way to easing millions of Americans’ concerns.

Physicians with high-risk patients struggle under value-based pay model (Modern Healthcare)
Physicians who serve low-income patients with complex conditions are more vulnerable to financial losses in value-based payment models, according to a new study that found these providers, many of them safety-net providers, didn't have the technological infrastructure to report the necessary data.

Texas legislators take aim at high maternal mortality rates (Fierce Healthcare)
Maternal death rates are on the rise in some regions, pushing leaders in several states to investigate the trend and putting hospitals on alert.


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