Nov. 29, 2018
Voters came out in full force for the midterms earlier this month, unseating incumbents and electing a record-setting diverse group of legislators. The higher-than-usual turnout was encouraging, and many will point to this as a step in the right direction for our country. But is it enough to preserve our fragile democracy? Americans think it's necessary but far from sufficient, according to new research we've been conducting. 
Early next year we'll be releasing the inaugural Yankelovich Democracy Monitor report, which, through a collaboration with the Kettering Foundationexamines what the American public think will help strengthen our democracy. For example, a strong majority believes it is not enough to just vote, pay taxes and then expect officials to do all the work, people also need to get involved and help solve problems in a more hands-on way. We'll have more to say about exactly how people are prepared to "get involved" when we release the report next year. 

But what good is voting, volunteering, advocacy and other forms of civic engagement if it is not well thought through because people are bombarded by misinformation and knee-jerk divisiveness? We must also do more to create the conditions for productive public conversation and sounder public opinion. That's why Public Agenda, in partnership with the Ford, Rita Allen and Knight Foundations, will host a convening of experts from such fields as public opinion and internet research, communications, public engagement and social change. 
Our aim: to develop breakthrough strategies and methods that we and many others can apply to create more informed and thoughtful public opinion on issues like immigration, criminal justice and health care. Our first working session is next week and we look forward to keeping you up to date on our progress.

Since 1975, we've worked for a democracy where everyone has a voice in the decisions that affect their lives and the opportunity to pursue their dreams, a mission that has never been more important than it is today. Please help us do even more in 2019 by making a contribution to our work today

Thank you!
Will Friedman PH.D.

Will Friedman
"Too often, we don't talk about incidents of bias, discrimination and hate crimes in our schools because we are afraid that these discussions will be uncomfortable, upsetting, time-intensive or overly political. But school is exactly the place where this conversation needs to start."

YOUR support will help Public Agenda build common ground, forge process on tough issues, and enact reforms that create a more inclusive, effective and just democracy. To make a one-time gift click here.

We're happy to announce the release of "Our Next Assignment: Where Americans Stand on Public K-12 Education." Through a review of recent public opinion research and original focus groups conducted with employers at small businesses and organizations, this report provides insight into public and other stakeholder opinion on public education. 
The Research and the Communications teams, with support from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, hosted a webinar on Thursday, Nov. 15 that brought together a panel of education and policy experts to discuss findings from Our Next Assignment.
This month, the Public Engagement team held a community engagement strategy workshop in downtown Brooklyn that was hosted by the New York City Department of Small Business Services Avenue NYC Program. During the workshop, they facilitated discussions with representatives from New York City community development organizations and shared with attendees public engagement strategies they could use to boost economic development in their neighborhoods and connect community businesses with residents. 

Civil society is rooted in actions, not words.

This guide is designed to bring together a school community in order to address and prevents incidents of bias, discrimination and hate crimes. It includes suggestions for facilitating the discussions so that they are safe, illuminating and productive, as well as for organizing the process so that it fits in the daily rhythm of the school community.
Through a review of recent public opinion research and original focus groups conducted with employers at small businesses and organizations, this report provides insight into public and other stakeholder opinion on the questions above and more.

Where Americans See Eye to Eye on Health Care
This report from the Hidden Common Ground Initiative focuses on hidden or otherwise underappreciated common ground in health care. How do people talk across party lines about the problems facing our health care system? What do people think should be done to make progress?

_ Where Americans See Eye to Eye on Incarceration
This report from the Hidden Common Ground Initiative focuses on hidden or otherwise underappreciated common ground in the realm of criminal justice reform, specifically with respect to incarceration.

 A Major Step_ What Adults Without Degrees Say About Going _Back_ to College

This report from Public Agenda and sponsored by The Kresge Foundation offers insight into why some adults are considering going (back) to college and the challenges they think they'll face once they enroll.

Democrats Say Their First Bill Will Focus On Strengthening Democracy At Home (NPR)
Party leaders say the first legislative vote in the House will come on H.R. 1, a magnum opus of provisions that Democrats believe will strengthen U.S. democratic institutions and traditions. Continue Reading 

Extreme political polarization weakens democracy - can the US avoid that fate?
(The Conversation)

Based on a study of 11 countries including the U.S., Turkey, Hungary, Venezuela, Thailand and others, we found that when political leaders cast their opponents as immoral or corrupt, they create "us" and "them" camps - called by political scientists and psychologists "in-groups" and "out-groups" - in the society. 
Opportunity and Inequality
Northern Virginia property owners are delighted Amazon HQ2 is moving in. Renters, first-time buyers and low-income residents aren't. (Washington Post)
Anticipation that the online retail giant would open its new headquarters in this Northern Virginia neighborhood of hotels, high-rise condominiums and office buildings set off a flurry of real estate speculation - even before the official announcement from Amazon on Tuesday morningContinue Reading
Conservative Arkansas could soon have the highest effective minimum wage in the country (The Washington Post)
Wealth and income inequality are growing areas of concern. A report from Oxfam found that 82% of all wealth created throughout the world in 2017 went to the top 1%. 8 individuals literally own as much money as 3.8 billion people. It's hard to grasp what these numbers really mean, so let's reframe the issue at the local level. How bad is income inequality where you live? 
New Yorkers Decided They Want More Democracy, But What Does That Mean? (Gotham Gazette)
On Election Day, New Yorkers passed three ballot measures intended to strengthen local democracy. One of the approved plans is for the city to create a Civic Engagement Commission that will have several key responsibilities, including a new citywide participatory budgeting (PB) program, assistance to city agencies and nonprofits for their engagement efforts, and support to community boards to make them more participatory and representative of the communities they serve.

Many Around the World Are Disengaged From Politics (Pew Research Center)
An engaged citizenry is often considered a sign of a healthy democracy. High levels of political and civic participation increase the likelihood that the voices of ordinary citizens will be heard in important debates, and they confer a degree of legitimacy on democratic institutions. However, in many nations around the world, much of the public is disengaged from politics.
Higher Education and Workforce
Convincing students that learning blue-collar job skills will pay off (Hechinger Report)
In Wisconsin, a school district faces a dilemma: Businesses are desperate for their students, but don't always pay as well as they used to. Continue Reading

New Data Brings Daylight To The Graduation Gap In Higher Education (Forbes)
It's no secret that college graduation rates in this country aren't what they should be, particularly for students from low-income backgrounds. But until recently, we had limited information about how colleges rank in terms of graduating students from limited economic means. Thanks to a push for greater data transparency, colleges' graduation rates for students from low and moderate-income families are now out in the open. 
Continue Reading
K-12 Education
In More High School Classes, the Teacher Is on a Screen (Wall Street Journal)
Facing a teacher shortage, school districts try virtual teachers; 'My preference is still a live body in the classroom,' says one Texas superintendent.

Philadelphia schools adopt outdoor education as a graduation strategy(Education Dive)
The School District of Philadelphia has adopted a new strategy to boost graduation rates that has very little to do with reading, writing or arithmetic. Instead, it has everything to do with leadership skills, team building, character development and other byproducts of Outward Bound's outdoor expeditions. Continue Reading
Health Care
Healthcare will outspend all other industries on R&D by 2020, PwC says (Healthcare Dive)
Healthcare is on track to be the No. 1 industry for global research and development spending, according to new analysis from PwC. The industry currently ranks second behind computing and electronics, but is expected to pull ahead by 2020.
 Continue Reading

Industry slow to improve patient health literacy (Modern Healthcare)
It wasn't long after the primary-care focused Rio Grande Valley Health Alliance in McAllen, Texas, was formed in 2013 that it became apparent the accountable care organization's patients had trouble talking with physicians about their health during office visits.

Part of the problem was language related-most of the ACO's 7,500 patients in the southern Texas border town speak English as a second language. But a bigger challenge was the intimidation patients felt when they were meeting a doctor in the clinic was limiting their understanding of their health and how to improve or maintain it. Continue Reading