ON THE AGENDA | FEBRUARY 5TH, 2016 | Public Agenda

Engaging Ideas 2/5

A collection of recent stories and reports that sparked consideration on ways to make progress on divisive issues.


How Citizens Can Have a Genuine Voice in Policymaking (Governing)

There's a lot that our governments could do beyond giving people three minutes at a public-hearing podium.

Effective Civic Engagement Requires Balanced Viable Plan and Intentionality (Politics 365)

Evidence based civic engagement is a fairly nascent field. In fact, up until 20 years ago, what people now think of as civic engagement for ďpeople of colorĒ was characterized naively as just minority outreach. Therefore, itís no wonder that many organizations and efforts struggle to identify what an effective civic engagement plan is and by what method to execute one successfully. First, itís tough to pinpoint a distinct all-encompassing explanation of what civic engagement is. Second, itís equally as difficult to find an all-inclusive formula for putting together a viable program. Lastly, the moment an approach is successful itís dismissed as predictable or characterized as a chance occurrence so we canít learn anything new from those experiences.

Democracy Reinvented: Participatory Budgeting and Civic Innovation in America (Brookings)

Democracy Reinvented is the first comprehensive academic treatment of participatory budgeting in the United States, situating it within a broader trend of civic technology and innovation. The book places participatory budgeting within the larger discussion of the health of U.S. democracy and focuses on the enabling political and institutional conditions. Author and former White House policy adviser Hollie Russon Gilman presents theoretical insights, in-depth case studies, and interviews to offer a compelling alternative to the current citizen disaffection and mistrust of government. She offers policy recommendations on how to tap online tools and other technological and civic innovations to promote more inclusive governance. While most literature tends to focus on institutional changes without solutions, this book suggests practical ways to empower citizens to become change agents and also includes a discussion on the challenges and opportunities that come with using digital tools to re-engage citizens in governance.

Polling and the Election

Did the Iowa Caucus Results Discredit Polls? (The Brian Lehrer Show)

President Will Friedman chatted with Brian and Harry Enten, senior political writer and analyst for FiveThirtyEight, and asked whether polling is a meaningful and useful tool in democracy.

Restoring Opportunity

Finding Common Ground on Poverty (The New York Times)

Eduardo Porter: If you have been paying any attention to Americaís paralyzed politics, you are not going to believe this. Some of the leading thinkers on opposite sides of the ideological divide came together to champion an increase in the minimum wage. And they didnít stop there. The group included Robert Doar of the conservative American Enterprise Institute and Lawrence Mead of New York University, who believe that welfare should come with stiff work requirements to discourage dependency. They sat across from Sheldon Danziger of the Russell Sage Foundation and Jane Waldfogel of Columbia University, who believe in a cash safety net of last resort, at least for families with children.

Americans Weigh in on the State of Economic Opportunity (The Atlantic)

A new poll shows thereís a political divide when it comes to how people view who gets ahead in America.

K-12 Education

Calling all education policy wonks - it's finally happening! (Politico Morning Newsletter)

The Education Department is putting together a committee that will hash out regulations stemming from the Every Student Succeeds Act on assessments and the "supplement, not supplant" provision. The agency wants nominations for committee members that include state and local administrators; parents and students, including historically underserved students; teachers; tribal leadership; members of the business community; charter school leaders and civil rights activists. The first negotiated rulemaking session is scheduled for March 21-23.

Resolving the Charter School Debate (EdWeek)

Cami Anderson, former K-12 superintendent of Newark, writes that charters schools are not a "silver bullet" and suggests a mixed-market alternative. "It is not about expanding charters or saving districts. We all need to stop the polarizing discussion and come together to create a blended model, a third way, of giving all students in all neighborhoods access to the best education possible, rather than treating children like pawns in our political games."

How One Working-Class California City Saved Its Schools (The Atlantic)

While the structured collaboration with the higher-education community formally dates to 2008 when the group organized the Long Beach College Promise, representatives of all three entities say the informal, open-door nature of their relationships started earlier. By Steinhauserís count, 2016 will be the 24th straight year of focused improvements in his school district, many of which can be traced to the ongoing cooperation with the local community college and state university. ďIt does really become one education system instead of three,Ē said Terri Carbaugh, a spokesperson for Long Beach State.

The Politicians May Be Quiet on K-12, But Foundations Are Busier Than Ever (Inside Philanthropy)

Netflix founder Reed Hastings has created a new education philanthropy fund, known as the Hastings Fund, through the Silicon Valley Community Foundation. The fund will be worth about $100 million. Like Walton, Hastings is another prominent supporter of charter schools. The former president of the California State Board of Education and current board member of the California Charter Schools Association has spent big on charter schools in the past. Previous gifts include $2 million to Rocketship Education, a charter school operator. Hastings' education interests are not limited to charters, however. He has also given $3 million to Khan Academy, the personalized learning organization.

Now comes the news that banking giant JP Morgan Chase will put $75 million into career and technical education (CTE) programs to improve employment opportunities for youth. This new funding commitment from JP Morgan Chase aims to better prepare young people in high school for careers in "middle-skills" industries, the kinds that require a certificate or two-year degree rather than a four-year college degree. These fields include computer technology, nursing and manufacturing. The initiative will award grants of $100,000 each to up to 25 states to implement CTE programs aligned to the needs of local employers. Follow-up grants will give $2 million each to as many as 15 states for their CTE programs.

Higher Education

Public Universities Seek to Redesign First-Year Experience (Inside Higher Ed)

The American Association of State Colleges and Universities this week announced a project to work with 44 of its member institutions to substantially change students' experience during their first year of college. The project is aimed at improving college completion rates, with a particular eye at helping low-income and first-generation college students, as well as members of minority groups. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and USA Funds are contributing funds to the project. The work will include a focus on "institutional intentionality," Mehaffy said, such as through changes to the administrative structure and budgeting process of participating colleges. It also will include elements of curriculum redesign and changes to the roles of faculty members, staff and students. One likely outcome, said Mehaffy, would be degree maps and narrower, more defined pathways for students to get to graduation.

Factsheet; Building Effective Partnerships for High-Quality Postsecondary Education in Correctional Facilities (The Vera Institute of Justice)

To support the implementation of new partnerships and strengthen existing ones between colleges and corrections agencies, this fact sheet shares lessons learned from the development and implementation of Veraís Unlocking Potential: Pathways from Prison to Postsecondary Education national demonstration project, launched in 2012. The lessons are grouped into three broad areas: developing college-corrections partnerships, ensuring quality in postsecondary education programs, and supporting education post-release.

Video: How to Make Public Engagement a Priority at Research Universities (The Chronicle of Higher Education)

Public universities should deepen their engagement with their communities and make those partnerships part of their core academic missions, says Robert J. Jones, president of the University at Albany.

Infographic: Competency-Based Education (Data Points / American Association of Community Colleges)

Sixty eight percent of community colleges are in the planning stage of competency-based education.

The Economic Impact of College Graduates on Local Economies (City Lab)

A college education has its personal advantages, but itís critical to thriving cities as well.

Health Care

5 questions every presidential candidate should answer on health care (American Enterprise Institute)

Tom Miller writes that the candidates have faced mostly generic questions so far - in the vein of "would you support or repeal Obamacare?" Instead, he suggests that the candidates face more nuanced and informative questions like, "What do we want the health care system to do, and how do we measure its performance?"

How to make both parties happy through the Affordable Care Act (The Washington Post)

Former Speaker Newt Gingrich and Former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle say they've got an Obamacare prescription that would satisfy both parties: Empower states through the ACA's innovation waivers.

Health care is about relationships. Health IT fails to understand that. (Kevin MD)

The promise that information technology holds for health care is, quite literally, amazing. So far, it has enabled us to get rid of paper charts (not to mention the age-old problem of illegible doctorsí handwriting), negated the need to trawl through mountains of files to find old clinical data, and introduced much-needed safety improvements such as medication alerts. But anyone practicing at the frontlines of medicine over the last few years will also be very familiar with the negatives: reduced face time with patients, lost productivity, and daily clinician frustrations with the IT solutions that have been put before us.

NHPC16: C-suite execs share strategies to move hospitals to value-based system (Healthcare Dive)

Engaging entire communities and addressing social health determinants are some of the strategies health systems have used in their population health efforts.

City Solutions

Two Affordable Housing Proposals Clear Hurdle (WNYC)

Two key pieces of Mayor de Blasio's affordable housing plan cleared a hurdle today, winning approval from the City Planning Commission. The plans are called Mandatory Inclusionary Housing and Zoning for Quality and Affordability. The names are wonky, but the city says the goals are simple: The first would require developers to build more affordable housing in rezoned areas. The other would update the zoning code to allow taller buildings in some places and make it easier to build much-needed senior housing. But the two proposals are controversial. Community boards across the city have voted against them. City Council will now deliberate and is expected to push for more changes.


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