ON THE AGENDA | SEPTEMBER 30TH, 2016 | Public Agenda

Engaging Ideas - 9/30

A collection of recent stories and reports to make you think about how to make progress on divisive issues.

Every week we curate stories and reports on complex issues. This week: The reason for skepticism about online polls and which institutions both Republicans and Democrats view favorably. A radio spot on what’s missing in the presidential debates. Plus, a detailed look at the Detroit public school system and an example of how civic engagement spread across six college campuses.


Many Americans know nothing about their government. Here’s a bold way schools can fix that. (The Washington Post)
I am not original in saying that constitutional democracies require citizens who understand the ethos of democracy and are willing to do the hard work to improve it. Alexis de Tocqueville (yes, I am citing Tocqueville) noted that democracy is not self-perpetuating but needs to be fostered by succeeding generations. With the U.S. government now larger and more complex than ever, it takes deeper understanding to keep trying to shape it into one that works for all people, not just some of them.

From universities to churches, Republicans and Democrats differ in views of major institutions (Pew Research Center)
The public continues to express negative views of the news media. Fully 70% say the news media have a negative effect on the way things are going in the country, while just 22% say the media have a positive effect. Overall, only two of the six institutions included in the survey – churches and religious institutions (57%) and colleges and universities (57%) – are viewed positively by majorities of the public.


How Civic Engagement Spread across Six College Campuses (Kettering Foundation)
“There is a public purpose to education that goes back to the founding of public schools. It helps make our democracy work better. Too often, our notion of democracy is voting and going home, and waiting for leaders to fix our problem. But that isn’t democracy. Democracy should be working with leaders, working across differences, parties, fixing things in our community. To do that we have to talk to people, figure out where they are coming from, craft solutions that don’t divide people.

Hear Something, Say Something: Navigating The World Of Racial Awkwardness (NPR)
What do you do when a friend or loved one talks about race in a way that makes you cringe? Karen Good-Marable, Aaron Sanchez, Robyn Henderson-Espinoza, and Channing Kennedy tell us how they reacted.

Public Opinion/ Polling

Why You Shouldn’t Believe Most Online Polls (The New York Times)

K-12 Education

Battling for the Fate of a School District (Harper's)
Alexandria Neason writes: When Rhodes came to office, this past March, the Detroit public-school system was contending with an operating debt of more than $500 million, and the Citizens Research Council of Michigan had estimated that the total debt topped $3.5 billion. For years, money intended for students has instead been paying off old loans, and academic achievement has consistently ranked among the worst in American cities. At many school buildings, much-needed repairs to walls and leaky roofs have gone unaddressed; in the worst cases, mice could be seen scampering across unheated classrooms. For thirteen of the past seventeen years, the state has controlled the city’s school district, and with the more recent addition of all-powerful emergency managers, Detroiters have had to pin their frustrations and hopes on a rotating cast of emissaries.

School Inspections Offer a Diagnostic Look at Quality (EdWeek)
Aiming to get beyond just spreadsheets and test scores, Vermont and other states experiment with new ways to scope out schools' strengths and weaknesses.

Lessons From a 'Hidden Gem' in Alabama (EdWeek)
A rural Southern school with a predominantly Native American population engages the whole community in its continued quest for improvement.

Five Reasons Why Teachers Should Write About Their Practice (EdWeek)
Nancy Barile, a National Board Certified Teacher who has been teaching English Language Arts at a Boston-area high school for 22 years, writes: One of the main reasons I’m so enthusiastic about the “Writing about Teaching” course is because of its active and interactive structure. Unlike “sit and get” PD led by non-practitioners, participants will be writing, sharing, critiquing, and discussing our work each month. At the end of our PD, we will each have a “product”—something useful, which will have a positive impact on our students, and which we can share with other teachers.

Higher Education & Workforce Development

Ohio Community Colleges See Early Success From CUNY's ASAP (Inside Higher Ed)
Cincinnati State Technical and Community College, Cuyahoga Community College and Lorain County Community College created ASAP programs on their own campuses and have early results showing increases in enrollment and credit accumulation during the first semester and persistence in the second semester.

Report: Shared Governance: Is OK Good Enough? (Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges)
It’s based in part on input from a focus group of faculty members, conducted earlier this year in conjunction with the American Association of University Professors. Three hundred presidents and several thousand board members weighed in via surveys. See more coverage from Inside Higher Ed.

Edu Policy On Comedy Central (Politico Morning Education Newsletter)
Sara Goldrick-Rab, the prominent professor of higher education policy and sociology at Temple University, sat down Wednesday night to talk with The Daily Show's Trevor Noah about her new book, "Paying the Price." She touted a proposal to expand the national school lunch program to include college students - and also weighed in on Hillary Clinton's higher education plan. Watch the interview here.

Health Care

The Pulse: Clinton And Trump, What About Health Care? (Rhode Island Public Radio)
The presidential candidates debated for the first time Monday night, and health care barely got a mention. Health care hasn’t exactly been in the spotlight throughout this presidential campaign. This week on The Pulse, Rhode Island Public Radio health care reporter Kristin Gourlay looks at why that might be. She joins News Director Elisabeth Harrison.

A call for collaborative action to achieve readiness for a value-payment world (Modern Healthcare)
Eleven prominent healthcare executives call on all industry stakeholders to join the work of the Accountable Care Learning Collaborative to accelerate the shift from volume to value.

Poll Finds Majority Of Americans Want Restraints On Drug Prices (Kaiser Health News)
An overwhelming majority of Americans favor government action to restrain prescription drug prices, according to a poll released Thursday. Eighty-two percent of those polled said they want Medicare to negotiate prices with the companies, which Congress does not allow. Seventy-eight percent favored limiting the amount companies can charge for high-cost drugs, such as those that fight cancer or hepatitis, according to the poll from the Kaiser Family Foundation. And more than two-thirds want to let Americans buy drugs imported from Canada. Support is strong no matter the political party.


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