Engaging Ideas - 9/8/2017

Every week we curate stories and reports on complex issues. This week: Understanding inequality by looking at two janitors, then and now. Universal free lunch in NYC schools. In Los Angeles, many students get to college, few finish. Are hospital systems driving up medical costs? What some people agree on (and donít agree on) when it comes to immigration reform.


Immigration reform: Could opposing sides compromise? (The Mercury News)
Santos Aviles, who as a teenager illegally immigrated from El Salvador to the United States, has found it surprising how many conservatives have been open to his suggestions on reforming the countryís tattered immigration laws..

We need political parties. But their rabid partisanship could destroy American democracy (Vox)
We need partisan conflict to organize politics. Without political parties, there is no meaningful democracy. But we are deep into a self-reinforcing cycle of doom-loop partisanship. We need to think hard about how to escape this trap, before it is too late.


Metro Nashville should embrace participatory budgeting (Tennessean)
Over a year ago, a Nashville resident met with his local councilman, Fabian Bedne of District 31, to share his thoughts about what a democratic-driven budgetary process could look like for the folks in Nashville. This would help address urban issues, ranging from transportation and public safety to affordable housing and beautification projects.

What Technologies Do Cities Use for Citizen Engagement? (Government Technology)
The civic engagement process has come a long way from bulletin boards and town hall meetings. Or rather, itís added a lot of technology on top of bulletin boards and town hall meetings.


To Understand Rising Inequality, Consider the Janitors at Two Top Companies, Then and Now (The Upshot)
In the 35 years between their jobs as janitors, corporations across America have flocked to a new management theory: Focus on core competence and outsource the rest. The approach has made companies more nimble and more productive, and delivered huge profits for shareholders. It has also fueled inequality and helps explain why many working-class Americans are struggling even in an ostensibly healthy economy.

What city bus systems can tell us about race, poverty and us (Washington Post)
For many in Baltimore, buses are woven deep into daily life. And they also tell an important story about the city and its history, rooted in racial and economic divides that have shaped the course of its development over the decades.


Charter Schools Are Losing the Narrative But Winning the Data (New York Magazine)
The most striking thing about the coverage of charter schools is the contrast between the tone of data journalism and narrative journalism.

New York City unveils universal free lunch in time for the first day of school (Chalkbeat)
After years of lobbying from City Council members and school nutrition advocates, New York City will offer free lunch to all public school students regardless of their familiesí income ó a change the city expects will result in fewer students missing out on lunch.

Higher Education & Workforce Development

Preparing the Workers of Today for the Labor Needs of Tomorrow (WNYC)
Starting at 14:45, Alison Kadlec talks about job skills and how community colleges and regional universities are working to address the needs of today's students.

Many L.A. students get to college; only a few finish (Los Angeles Times)
A new study has put an exclamation point on a problem that Los Angeles Unified School District officials already acknowledge: too few of their graduates ó about one in four ó are earning college degrees.


If prices are kept hidden, consumers canít take more responsibility for their health care costs (Stat News)
My father had no idea how much my motherís treatment would cost, how much of it would be covered by insurance, if there were alternative treatments that would be covered, or how we would pay for treatments that werenít covered. Forget about negotiating ó how could he negotiate about something whose price he didnít know?

As large hospital systems buy up independent medical practices, the cost of health care rises (Marketplace)
Northern California, where Azad works, is the most expensive place in the country to have a baby, according to a study by Castlight Health, a San Francisco-based health benefits platform. One important reason is the kind of consolidation that Azad has witnessed over the past decade. The region is dominated by a few large hospital systems that keep buying up doctor practices


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