Public Agenda
On the Agenda The Public Agenda Blog

09.28 ENGAGING IDEAS - 09/28/2018

Friday, September 28th, 2018 | PUBLIC AGENDA


Golden could be the first Colorado city to lower the minimum voting age to 16 (
Colorado law limits voting to adults 18 and older, but as a home rule city, Golden could lower that age threshold for municipal-only races and ballot issues. People would still need to be at least 18 to hold office in Golden. If the measure passes, the first election that minors would likely be able to vote in would be November 2019. Continue Reading

The forgotten majority: how norms inform the practice of democracy (Vox)
We have a lot of norms about democracy. They're not all consistent. Continue Reading

Study Finds Partisan Beliefs Drive Attitudes Toward New Media (Courthouse News)
Nearly two years into Donald Trump's presidency, the partisan divide over the media and its role in the American democracy appears to have widened, a new study from the Pew Research Center says. Continue Reading


Black students default on college loans at a higher rate than others, study finds (Hechinger Report)
There's great disparity in the way that college graduates pay back student loans. Among black bachelor's degree holders, 21 percent defaulted on their student loans within 12 years of entering college, according to a report released this week from The Institute for College Access and Success. Only 8 percent of Hispanic degree holders and 3 percent of white degree holders defaulted within that time period. Continue Reading

Income inequality is changing how we think, live, and die (Vox)
Why society might be more stable if we had more poverty and less inequality. Continue Reading


College-age voters: increasingly courted - and thwarted (Christian Science Monitor)
Many students are too busy to care much about politics, but those who tune in can make the difference in a tight race - so battles are heating up over whether certain voting rules create unfair barriers. Continue Reading

Will de Blasio's ballot proposals make a difference? (City & State)
City Councilman Brad Lander evaluates the mayor's Charter Revision Commission. Continue Reading

How governments can let citizens call the shots (GovInsider)
Participatory budgeting can help citizens become decision-makers, serve the underprivileged and be a force for good on a national scale. Continue Reading


Want to boost test scores and increase grad rates? One strategy: look outside schools and help low-income families (Chalkbeat)
A large and growing body of research backs up Marquita's experience, documenting not only that poverty hurts students in school, but that specific anti-poverty programs can counteract that harm. These programs - or other methods of increasing family income - boost students' test scores, make them more likely to finish high school, and raise their chances of enrolling in college. Continue Reading

Report: 44 states have implemented at least one K-12 computer science policy (Education Dive)
Since 2013, the number of states with at least one policy related to computer science education in K-12 schools has increased from 14 to 44, according to a State of Computer Science Education report released Thursday from the Advocacy Coalition and the Computer Science Teachers Association. Continue Reading

The Future of Education: K-12 Superintendents' Views (Gallup)
U.S. public school superintendents remain enthusiastic about the future of their school district, but they are much less excited about public education nationwide. Eighty-six percent of K-12 superintendents agree they are excited about the future of their district, including 53% who strongly agree. Only half as many, 42%, agree they are excited about the future of K-12 public education in the U.S. Continue Reading

Higher Ed/Workforce

Diversity Fatigue Is Real (The Chronicle of Higher Education)
For many folks of color in the academy, the language of diversity itself is tired and appears to be bandied about primarily for branding purposes. Continue Reading

How the Great Recession changed higher education forever (Washington Post)
For some colleges, the past 10 years have involved moving from one year to the next while grasping for strategies that might last longer. Others have approached the challenges of this past decade by hunkering down, hoping the tough times will simply pass. Rarely do enough college leaders peer far enough into the future, instead confronting the challenges ahead of them, incrementally, one year at a time. Continue Reading

Report: Colleges need more time to fill their incoming classes (Education Dive)
As competition for students increases, colleges are struggling to meet their target enrollment numbers by the traditional May 1 deadline, according to Inside Higher Ed's 2018 Survey of College and University Admissions Directors. The survey analyzed responses from 499 senior admissions or enrollment management professionals. Continue Reading

Health Care

Tennessee joins push for Medicaid work requirements (Modern Healthcare)
Tennessee officially posted its Medicaid waiver that would require enrollees to either seek or maintain work.It's the fourth state to propose a Medicaid work requirement this month for comment. Continue Reading

Health Care Transparency Effort Lags (WLRN)
With just months left in his term, one of Gov. Rick Scott's key health-care initiatives remains in limbo. Scott convinced legislators to set aside $3.5 million to create a new website and to create a claims database that would allow Floridians to shop around when it comes to health care. But with Scott ready to leave the governor's office in January, the health-care price information still isn't available to Florida consumers. Continue Reading

Bipartisan Negativity in Views of the Healthcare Industry (Gallup)
Republicans and Democrats have held similar views of the U.S. healthcare industry over the last two years since President Donald Trump took office, with 37% of Republicans and 33% of Democrats viewing it "very" or "somewhat" positively. However, this reflects a significant souring of Democrats' views of the healthcare industry since Barack Obama's second term as president. Republicans' views of the industry have recovered to pre-Obama levels. Continue Reading


09.21 ENGAGING IDEAS - 09/21/2018

Friday, September 21st, 2018 | PUBLIC AGENDA


The death of democracy and birth of an unknown beast (The Economist)
History provides uncomfortable lessons. Among them is that systems of governance are not immortal and that democracies can devolve into autocracy. As institutions decay and social norms fray, democratic processes and practices are prone to apathy, demagoguery and disintegration. Continue Reading

Democracy Will Still Surprise Us (New York Times)
Of late, Western democracy has concentrated rather than spread wealth, suggesting it serves injustice. But it is stubborn and adaptable. Continue Reading

US democracy is not at risk - it's working like the Constitution intended it to (Business Insider)
American democracy might depend on the three branches of government functioning, but there are three other powers that keep it alive: the states, constitutionally protected institutions, and most importantly, the people. Continue Reading


Latest Fed Data On Household Wealth Mask Massive Inequality (Forbes)
The Federal Reserve released its latest data on the country's finances on September 20. The household data show continued increases in wealth, but that is not the whole story. Millions of households are left out of the stock and housing booms. Continue Reading

Rich-world wage growth continues to disappoint (The Economist)
THE world is still in recovery mode fully ten years after the financial crisis of 2008-09. Inflation-adjusted wages grew by an average of 27% in the decade before the crisis in the OECD, a club of mostly rich countries. In the ten years since, real wages have increased by just 8.4%, on average. Continue Reading

Ray Dalio: Rising debt, income inequality and political polarization are a recipe for a nasty downturn (MarketWatch)
The billionaire hedge-fund manager warns the next financial crisis will threaten capitalism and democracy Continue Reading


Residents use art to encourage civic engagement in their neighborhoods (The Rapidian)
Dwelling Place summer get out the vote events allowed residents the freedom to drop by and paint a poster, register to vote, check their registration status and more. Continue Reading

The art of civic engagement (University of New Mexico)
Beyond the world of entertainment, there's an intersection where art and activism meet. This is where you will find For Freedoms, a self-described "hub for artists and art institutions who want to be more engaged in public life." In collaboration with For Freedoms, The University of New Mexico (UNM) Art Museum and College of Fine Arts are joining the 50 State Initiative, a project centered around "the vital work of artists." These student-driven projects are art with an endgame - getting people to participate in democracy. Continue Reading

Participatory Budgeting Kicks Off, Help Decide How to Spend More Than $1.5 Million in District (Greenpoint Post)
Another round of participatory budgeting is in the works for the district, with more than $1.5 million on offer to fund local projects, Council Member Stephen Levin announced last week. Continue Reading


Jeff Bezos Cites a Big Number, but Few Details, in Plan for Low-Income Montessori Preschools

(New York Times)
When Jeff Bezos announced last week that he and his wife, MacKenzie Bezos, would create and operate a national network of Montessori preschools, few were more surprised than Montessori organizations and leaders themselves. Continue Reading

The learning experience is different in schools that assign laptops, a survey finds (The Hechinger Report)
More than twice as many principals in 2017 said students in their schools were assigned some type of mobile device, like a laptop or tablet, than in 2015. That's according to the Speak Up Research Project for Digital Learning, which found that 60 percent of principals who responded to its latest survey say they assign these devices, compared with 27 percent two years earlier. Continue Reading

Brooklyn middle schools eliminate 'screening' as New York City expands integration efforts (Chalkbeat)
New York's Department of Education on Thursday approved sweeping changes to the way students are admitted to middle schools across an entire Brooklyn district, marking one of the most far-reaching integration efforts under Mayor Bill de Blasio's administration. Continue Reading

Higher Ed/Workforce

In Race for Students, Colleges Offer to Match Tuition at Rival Schools (Wall Street Journal)
Price-match guarantee, a sales tactic borrowed from retailers, illustrates how fiercely competitive higher education has become. Continue Reading

Colorado College Helps Dreamers Afford Higher Education (US News & World Report)
Dreamers, or those eligible for the Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals program, can work and pay taxes but are not eligible to receive state or government financial aid. They can apply for private college scholarships, and in Colorado they are eligible for in-state tuition if they have lived in the state for three years, but for many higher education can still seem like a distant reality. Continue Reading

Giving all students a voice is key to more effective higher education (Arizona State University)
Frank Rhodes Lecture speaker Cathy Davidson encourages a 'provocative way of thinking' when it comes to learning. Continue Reading

Health Care

Health Pros Nudge Senate Toward Care Quality, Price Transparency (Patient EngagementHIT)
A Senate HELP meeting discussed the need for better care quality and price transparency for patient healthcare decision-making. Continue Reading

Lack of price transparency impeding informed care decisions (Health Data Management)
Consumers are being blindsided by the high costs of their healthcare because of the lack of available price transparency data to make informed buying decisions. Continue Reading

HHS wants private sector input on healthcare innovation, investment (Health Data Management)
The federal agency in charge of healthcare delivery is seeking to increase the dialogue on increasing innovation and investment in healthcare. Continue Reading


09.14 ENGAGING IDEAS - 09/14/2018

Friday, September 14th, 2018 | PUBLIC AGENDA


America's Slide Toward Autocracy (The Atlantic)
Democracy has taken a beating under President Trump. Will the midterms make a difference? Continue Reading

Republicans' Turn in the Barrel (Wall Street Journal)
With the last primary in New York this Thursday, the 2018 general election is fully under way. Let's take stock of the political landscape as the contest enters its final eight weeks. Continue Reading

Americans Aren't Practicing Democracy Anymore (The Atlantic)
As participation in civic life has dwindled, so has public faith in the country's system of government. Continue Reading


The Inequality Industry (The Nation)
Since 2008, wonks, politicians, poets, and bankers have all started talking about inequality. But are they interested in making us more equal? Continue Reading

Research: How the Financial Crisis Drastically Increased Wealth Inequality in the U.S. (Harvard Business Review)
We live in unequal times. The causes and consequences of widening disparities in income and wealth have become a defining debate of our age. Researchers have made major inroads into documenting trends in either income or wealth inequality in the United States, but we still know little about how the two evolve together - an important question to understand the causes of wealth inequality. Continue Reading

Queens College Ranked In Top 1% In Country For Upward Mobility
The results of a recent study, as reported on this week in the Chronicle of Higher Education, provides insight into how well Queens College is propelling students up the economic ladder. The Chronicle's list is drawn from Mobility Report Cards: The Role of Colleges in Intergenerational Mobility, the widely reported study in which a team led by former Stanford economics professor Raj Chetty assessed colleges' impact on social mobility. Continue Reading


In Chicago, The Obamas' Civic Engagement Programs Are In Action (NPR)
The Obama Foundation has raised more than a quarter of a billion dollars so far to build the Obama Presidential Center on Chicago's South Side. Key to the Foundation's mission are programs to train the next generation of civic leaders. Continue Reading

Civic engagement app launches facial recognition feature to identify politicians (Biometric Update)
An app has been launched for iPhone and Android which identifies public figures with facial recognition to improve civic engagement. The CVX Civic Engagement app's "Name to a Face" feature compares an image in a photo taken by the user to a database of public officials with AI and machine learning to identify prominent U.S. politicians. Continue Reading


Rethinking What Gifted Education Means, and Whom It Should Serve (New York Times)
Montgomery County is one of several districts that is successfully diversifying its gifted programs, in part by overhauling the admissions process and rethinking the fundamental mission of such programs. Continue Reading

Passing schools, struggling students: Colorado reconsiders its formula for rating schools (Chalkbeat)
The vast majority of Colorado schools and districts get a passing score from state regulators who track their performance. Yet fewer than half of Colorado third-graders meet state expectations in literacy and just 34 percent meet state expectations in math. Continue Reading

In latest move, Gates Foundation looks to help - and learn from - charters serving students with disabilities (Chalkbeat)
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation's new charter school strategy is taking shape. The foundation has made four grants in recent months focused on helping charter schools better serve students with disabilities. That's one of the ways Bill Gates said last fall that the influential foundation would focus its education giving over the next five years, along with efforts to grow networks of schools and improve curriculum. (The Gates Foundation is a supporter of Chalkbeat.) Continue Reading

Higher Ed/Workforce

Higher-education spending is falling (The Economist)
Universities are increasingly reliant on funds from the private sector. Continue Reading

Education Dept. Reopens Rutgers Case Charging Discrimination Against Jewish Students (New York Times)
The new head of civil rights at the Education Department has reopened a seven-year-old case brought by a Zionist group against Rutgers University, saying the Obama administration, in closing the case, ignored evidence that suggested the school allowed a hostile environment for Jewish students. Continue Reading

Colleges welcome first-year students by getting them thinking about jobs (Hechinger Report)
This new attention to career advising largely stems from growing expectations that institutions will help students get good jobs - which 85 percent of first-year students rated as "very important" among their reasons for going to college in the first place, according to a national survey conducted by an institute at UCLA. That's more than any other reason they considered "very important," including "to gain a general education and appreciation of ideas" and "to learn more about things that interest me." Continue Reading

Health Care

Hospitals sue HHS over 340B price transparency (
Hospital associations have launched a lawsuit that would prompt a court order to require drug companies to disclose the ceiling price for 340B drugs. Such requirements were already lawful under the Affordable Care Act, but the effective date has been delayed five times, according to the American Hospital Association. Continue Reading

Senators ask CMS to include opioid treatment in Medicare Advantage model (Modern Healthcare)
A bipartisan group of senators asked the CMS to expand the Medicare Advantage value-based insurance design model to include substance abuse disorder patients, saying it could help combat the opioid epidemic.Starting in 2020, the CMS should add substance use disorders to the specified clinical conditions identified in the current demonstration, Sens. Bob Casey (D-Pa.), John Thune (R-S.D.) and Chuck Grassley, (R-Iowa) wrote in a letter to CMS Administrator Seema Verma on Wednesday. Continue Reading

States are trying to lower drug prices. Here's how their efforts are being thwarted (Fierce Healthcare)
High drug prices may be a hot-button issue for the Trump administration with its blueprint to take on the problem released back in May. But faced with increased budget burdens tied to rapidly expanding prescription drug costs, state officials aren't waiting around for federal solutions for drug prices. Continue Reading


09.07 ENGAGING IDEAS - 09/07/2018

Friday, September 7th, 2018 | PUBLIC AGENDA


This Is a Constitutional Crisis (The Atlantic)
Impeachment is a constitutional mechanism. The Twenty-Fifth Amendment is a constitutional mechanism. Mass resignations followed by voluntary testimony to congressional committees are a constitutional mechanism. Overt defiance of presidential authority by the president's own appointees-now that's a constitutional crisis. Continue Reading

Artificial intelligence is transforming social media. Can American democracy survive? (Washington Post)
Cambridge Analytica's harvesting of Facebook accounts and pairing with voter profiles merely represents a small first step for social manipulation. Advanced public relations firms, propagandists and campaigns, now and in the future, seek a full digital pattern-of-life on each potential voter. Continue Reading

An Avalanche of Speech Can Bury Democracy (Politico)
For the longest time, we thought that as speech became more democratized, democracy itself would flourish. But in 2018, it is increasingly clear that more speech can in fact threaten democracy. Continue Reading


New Research Debunks the Upward Mobility Myth (Pacific Standard)
In America, if you're ambitious and work hard, you can move up the socioeconomic ladder. At least, that's the truism we all grew up believing. But new research suggests such social mobility is far from the norm. It finds you are significantly more likely to hold a high-status (which usually means higher-paying) job if your parents held similarly prestigious positions. Continue Reading

Affirmative action should be based on class, not race (The Economist)
Focusing on the disadvantaged of all races is fairer and more appealing, writes Richard Kahlenberg, a scholar Continue Reading

Income Inequality Is Skyrocketing, Especially In These 5 States (Forbes)
After analyzing Census Bureau American Community Survey data from 2011 through 2016, five U.S. states in particular display unsettling levels of income inequality and, worse, its continuing rapid growth. Continue Reading


Follow up with your fans (and your ex-fans): Here's how to create a successful culture of listening in your newsroom (Nieman Lab)
A new civic engagement campaign called 'Hofstra Votes' aims to educate members of Hofstra University's community and surrounding area about pertinent political and policy issues. Continue Reading

Keeping Democracy Alive in Cities (Stanford Social Innovation Review)
Cities continue to be the place where citizens can engage most directly with government-especially when nonprofits are there to offer capacity, expertise, and reach. Continue Reading


Lifting the veil on education's newest big donor: Inside Chan Zuckerberg's $300 million push to reshape schools (Chalkbeat)
The numbers offer new perspective on a philanthropy that has quickly become one of the biggest in U.S. education, thrusting itself into the ongoing debate over the appropriate role for private dollars in education policy. Continue Reading

Gamification can help education - here's how (Venture Beat)
Teachers and parents hear it over and over again: "make learning fun" to keep kids engaged. Gamified education apps for use outside of the classroom have proliferated, leading students to expect gamification when they're back inside of the classroom, too. Continue Reading

Students sue New York City, saying black and Latino athletes have fewer sports opportunities (Hechinger Report)
The complaint states that 17,323 black and Latino teens attend a school with no PSAL teams at all. The P.S.A.L. funds teams for about 45,000 student-athletes citywide. According to P.S.A.L. data cited in the lawsuit, between 2012 and 2017, only about half of requests for sports team from schools that had more than 90 percent black and Latino students were approved, whereas about three-quarters of such requests were approved for schools whose student bodies were 10 percent or less black and Latino students. Continue Reading

Higher Ed/Workforce

Diversity or discrimination? What's at stake in the Harvard admissions lawsuit (Christian Science Monitor)
Asian-Americans - and the US Department of Justice - are weighing in as a court determines whether the Ivy League school's approach to admissions has been discriminatory. Continue Reading

College Board sued over allegedly recycled SAT test questions (Washington Post)
A class-action lawsuit was just filed in U.S. District Court in Florida by the father of a student who took the SAT on Aug. 25. Students reported the test included questions that had appeared on a 2017 SAT administered in Asia and that had been put on social media. Continue Reading

Fraternities Vote to Ban Hard Alcohol After Deadly Hazing Episodes (New York Times)
The trade association that represents dozens of fraternities across the nation and around the world has voted to ban hard alcohol in the wake of a series of high-profile hazing episodes that have resulted in deaths and lawsuits, officials announced this week. Continue Reading

Health Care

Mandatory joint pay model slashes spending in just eight months (Modern Healthcare)
A mandatory pay model aimed at reducing Medicare spending on joint replacement surgeries was able to save money in its first year. The CMS in recent years has scaled back and canceled mandatory models. Continue Reading

Justice Department Nearing Antitrust Approval of Health Mergers Combining CVS-Aetna, Cigna-Express Scripts (Wall Street Journal)
The Justice Department has identified some competition concerns surrounding the nearly $70 billion CVS-Aetna deal, and the companies will be required to sell off assets related to Medicare drug coverage to resolve those issues, some of the people familiar with the matter said. Continue Reading

'First of its kind' hospital-led generic drug company Civica Rx aims to address shortages, high prices

(Fierce Healthcare)
Some of the largest providers in the U.S. have officially joined forces to launch a nonprofit generic drug company. Civica Rx was formally established Thursday after it first announced in January. The idea, which was spearheaded by Intermountain Healthcare, drew plenty of interest from hospitals and health systems; more than 120 healthcare organizations-including one-third of U.S. hospitals-have signed on. Continue Reading


08.31 ENGAGING IDEAS - 08/31/2018

Friday, August 31st, 2018 | PUBLIC AGENDA


The Politics of Homeownership (Citylab)
Homeowners are more active in national and local politics than non-owners. This disproportionate involvement can potentially limit the economy and further divide our politics. Continue Reading

Republicans' anger at McCain speaks volumes about America's tribal politics (Washington Post)
Over the past few decades, Americans have fled to the political poles, leaving fewer in the once vibrant and decisive middle. Increasingly, those partisan voters are being driven more by fear and loathing for the opposition party than admiration for their own party's leaders - a phenomenon that political consultants call "negative partisanship."Continue Reading

How the Democratic Party Can Turn the Sun Belt Blue (The Atlantic)
From Florida to Texas, November's elections provide an opening for Democrats to shift the balance of power-and make up for lost ground in the heartland. Continue Reading


If You Want Less Displacement, Build More Housing (Citylab)
Blocking new development doesn't keep people from moving in. It often prices residents out of the neighborhoods they're trying to preserve. Continue Reading

Divided By Wealth: 13 Places In America With The Worst Income Inequality (Forbes)
Income creates a disparity in every U.S. city, but the gap is markedly bigger in some areas versus others. A 2018 study by the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) recently identified U.S. states, cities and counties most divided by wealth. Continue Reading

Investing to end poverty: On fostering economic growth and mobility in Philadelphia (
Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia's community development advisor and outreach manager, Noelle St.Clair, writes about new models of moving capital for social good. Continue Reading


Before Cuomo-Nixon debate, Hofstra announces civic engagement campaign (Long Island Business News)
A new civic engagement campaign called 'Hofstra Votes' aims to educate members of Hofstra University's community and surrounding area about pertinent political and policy issues. Continue Reading

City Council Begins Work On 2019 Participatory Budget Options (Queens Gazette)
In NYC Council District 22, residents of Astoria, East Elmhurst, Jackson Heights and Sunnyside, cast ballots last April on how to allocate $1 million in discretionary funding for community proposals ranging from improvements to the children's room of the Queens library's Steinway branch to lighting upgrades at Astoria Houses Community Center. Continue Reading


New York spends more per student than any other state. A new study suggests it should spend more. (Chalkbeat)
Education advocates have insisted the state has skimped on funding its schools. But New York State already has the highest per-student funding rate of any in the country - could moving that number up make a difference? Continue Reading

Newark's new superintendent shares his big plans with 7,000 district employees (Chalkbeat)
School hasn't started yet in Newark, but the district's students and staffers are already learning that their new boss intends to do things differently. He ordered every district employee to call several students' families in the coming days to remind them about the start of school on Sept. 4. And he summoned all 7,000 or so of those employees - everyone from teachers to custodians to central-office staffers - to the Prudential Center in downtown Newark on Tuesday for a meeting that was part pep rally, part strategy session. Continue Reading

Making the preschool magic last as children get older (Hechinger Report)
Although intensive family supports can be costly, research shows the need is clear. Trauma and stress, brought on by factors like poverty, food and housing insecurity, and violence in the community can impede the brain's development and lead to long-term mental and physical health issues. Schools like Christopher House try to reduce the impact of these negative experiences by addressing them head-on, providing early interventions in the form of high-quality education and family supports. Continue Reading

Higher Ed/Workforce

Community colleges try new 'pathway' to student success (The Orange County Register)
California's community colleges are embarking on the most far-reaching reform they have ever adopted, in a bid to tackle their biggest challenge: to improve on historically low rates of student graduation and transfers to 4-year colleges and universities. Continue Reading

Google Launches New Tools To Help U.S. Veterans Find Jobs And Promote Businesses (Forbes)
"Through Grow with Google, our initiative to help create opportunities for all Americans, we hope to use our technology to help veterans understand the full range of opportunities open to them across many different fields. Right now those opportunities are getting lost in translation." Continue Reading

America's Education 'Deserts' Show Limits of Relaxing Regulations on Colleges
The market for higher education is strongly local, with sparse options for many potential students, so merely giving them more information may not work. Continue Reading

Health Care

Complete care: Hospitals tackling social determinants set the course (Modern Healthcare)
Individual behaviors are the largest contributors to premature death, accounting for 40%, according to a 2007 New England Journal of Medicine story, while healthcare made up just 10%. Continue Reading

Tech Giants Pledge to Ease Patient, Provider Access to Health Data (Wall Street Journal)
Major tech companies committed Monday to removing technological barriers that have hindered patient and provider access to health-care data online. Continue Reading

Moody's report shows trouble on horizon with "unsustainable path" for nonprofit hospitals (Fierce Healthcare)
Nonprofit and public hospitals in the U.S. are increasingly facing a pretty daunting financial picture.

The latest evidence: A report from Moody's Investors Services this week shows the growth of expenses is outpacing the growth of their revenue. That gap is putting the sector on an "unsustainable path," Moody's reported in its research announcement. Continue Reading


08.24 ENGAGING IDEAS - 08/24/2018

Friday, August 24th, 2018 | PUBLIC AGENDA


Elections 2018: Is misinformation killing democracy? (ZDNET)
We all create a bit of propaganda and misinformation everyday. Is it all that surprising we're so primed to fall for social networking misinformation campaigns? Continue Reading

OPINION: Breaking Norms Will Renew Democracy, Not Ruin It (New York Times)
Most of President Trump's alleged transgressions offend against the etiquette of modern liberal governance, not the Constitution. Continue Reading

Tech Giants are Becoming Defenders of Democracy. Now What? (Wired)
ON TUESDAY, A trifecta of tech companies announced that they had thwarted what appear to be significant cyberattacks from Russia and Iran. Continue Reading


Many Data Sets Show High U.S. Inequality (Wall Street Journal)
A variety of measurement angles show that economic inequalities are higher in the U.S. than in most other OECD countries. Continue Reading

Elizabeth Warren's revolutionary plan to reduce income inequality (Washington Post)
Why increased corporate responsibility could diminish the need for government redistribution. Continue Reading

OPINION: Why Prosperity Has Increased but Happiness Has Not (New York Times)
Our well-being is local and relative - if you live in a struggling area and your status is slipping, even if you are relatively comfortable, you are probably at least a bit miserable. Continue Reading


City launches new public engagement platform (Mercer Island Reporter)
The City is launching this new platform to make it easier for residents and business owners to engage with City issues at a time and place that is most convenient for them. Continue Reading

What's New in Civic Tech: South Bend, Ind., Launches New Digital Inclusion Center (Government Technology)
South Bend, Ind., has launched a new digital inclusion center through a collaboration between the city, St. Joseph County Library and St. Joe Valley Metronet, officials announced in a press release. Continue Reading

LA County OKs Open-Source Election System (Government Technology)
California Secretary of State Alex Padilla's office has certified the first open-source, publicly owned election technology for use in the county. Continue Reading


How Do You Get Better Schools? Take the State to Court, More Advocates Say (New York Times)
The legal complaints have different areas of focus - from school funding to segregation to literacy - but all of them argue that the states are violating their constitutions by denying children a quality education. Continue Reading

Students are dropping out of college before even starting. Here's how educators are trying to stop the trend. (Washington Post)
Every spring, thousands of high school seniors in the District make plans to go to college. Every summer, many of their ambitions get shelved as graduates miss registration deadlines, overlook the fine print in financial aid packages or shift course because of worries about jobs and money. The phenomenon known as "summer melt," which sidetracks an estimated 10 percent or more of college plans nationwide, hits teenagers from low-income families harder than others. Continue Reading

Union chief says de Blasio's plan to scrap the SHSAT is going nowhere in Albany (Chalkbeat)
The head of New York City's teachers union offered a bleak assessment of Mayor Bill de Blasio's plan to integrate the city's specialized high schools Thursday, saying it likely won't come to fruition any time soon and the plan's rollout was "fraught with mistakes." Continue Reading

Higher Ed/Workforce

Why some new higher education reforms may hurt students rather than help (Washington Post)
Colleges and universities have been trying to find ways to provide wider and easier access to what they have to offer - or, at least, that is what many say they are trying to do. Continue Reading

Tuition Insurance Catches On as Costs Rise, Students Struggle to Adjust (Wall Street Journal)
'The cost of college is driving this,' said an official with one firm selling the policies. 'Families cannot afford the loss of $30,000.' Continue Reading

Welcome Students, Let's Talk About Confederate Statues (Wall Street Journal)
In the South, colleges grapple with historical markers; Silent Sam falls at UNC Continue Reading

Health Care

Democratic lawmakers say Medicaid work requirements could force families off coverage (Fierce Healthcare)
Work requirement programs have become a centerpiece of the Trump administration's plans for Medicaid, but two Democratic lawmakers are urging HHS and CMS to consider how the new rules will affect low-income families. Continue Reading

Trump's Plan on Drug-Pricing Transparency Takes Step Forward (Bloomberg)
White House staff are reviewing a proposal that may require pharmaceutical companies to be more transparent about their pricing, a key piece of President Donald Trump's plan to lower drug costs. Continue Reading

The case for price transparency: Why it pays to empower patient choice (Becker's Hospital Review)
As consumers become more responsible for footing their own healthcare bills, they have an urgent need to know upfront costs associated with their medical needs. While enabling a more transparent system poses risks to both patients and providers, consumers are ready for a more open environment when it comes to healthcare pricing. Continue Reading


08.17 ENGAGING IDEAS - 08/17/2018

Friday, August 17th, 2018 | PUBLIC AGENDA


Why a Free Press Matters (The Atlantic)
Journalists have been keeping a check on power since the creation of the First Amendment. Now, they're being tested. Continue Reading

On the Ambiguity of "Democracy" in America (
In American public discourse - articulated by public officials, media outlets, and ordinary citizens of virtually all political stripes - the United States is called a democracy. However, this attribution is false and has been so since the foundation of the republic. Many know this, but many don't. And the misuse of the term has become unusually, politically consequential since November, 2016. Continue Reading

What Americans want from reform in 2018 (Brookings Institution)
The rebuilders now have the momentum to win a plurality in the midterm elections and are on track to becoming a president-maker in 2020, even as the dismantlers fight to maintain control. Continue Reading


Maybe Worker Inequality Isn't Inevitable After All (Bloomberg)
In the 2000s and coming out of the great recession, increased inequality between educated knowledge workers and less-educated and goods-producing workers seemed inevitable. Continue Reading

2017 was a great year for CEOs. Not so much for the average worker. (Vox)
A new study shows that CEOs made about 312 times more money in 2017 than the average worker. Continue Reading

What American inequality looks like from above (Fast Company)
The story of inequality in the United States is written in its streets. In Silicon Valley, it looks like a homeless encampment carved out of a scruffy patch of land that's separated from Facebook and Instagram headquarters by the expressway filled with private tech buses. In Baltimore, it looks like an empty highway that displaced thousands of families and was never even completed. In Detroit, it looks like a cinderblock wall that was built in the 1940s to separate black and white neighborhoods and shape the street grid. Continue Reading


State Rep. supports civics education bill (The Landmark)
Senate Bill 2631, An Act to promote and enhance civic engagement, passed the House of Representatives and Senate unanimously on July 25 by votes of 151-0 and 37-0, respectively. The bill, which is now under review by Governor Charlie Baker, represents a compromise between two earlier versions of the legislation previously approved by the two branches. Continue Reading

Despite the Risks, Some States Are Handcuffed to Limited Online Voting Options (Government Technology)
Top computer researchers gave a startling presentation recently about how to intercept and switch votes on emailed ballots, but officials in the 30 or so states said the ease with which votes could be changed wouldn't alter their plans to continue offering electronic voting in some fashion. Continue Reading

Need help understanding the city budget? Grab a toy car and get to work (Denverrite)
Starting on Thursday, and for five days only, Denverites interested in art, weird machines or civic engagement can catch a blend of all three of those things in a new installation by Warm Cookies of the Revolution, the quirky "Civic Health Club" whose mission is to connect people with their city in innovative ways. Continue Reading


Florida told its low-scoring schools to make their days longer. It helped, new research finds (Chalkbeat)
In Florida, the extended-day push began in 2012 with the state's 100 lowest performing schools and expanded to 300 schools in 2014. Continue Reading

Undocumented students face hurdles getting into college. Here's how Indiana teachers have helped them succeed (Chalkbeat)
Navigating the college admissions process can be a challenge for any student, but in Indiana, undocumented students can face extra hurdles in pursuing higher learning. That's because Indiana is one of just six states that prohibits undocumented students from receiving in-state tuition rates at public universities. Continue Reading

A year of personalized learning: Mistakes, moving furniture and making it work (Hechinger Report)
In the first year of a new program, a large San Diego district experiences small victories despite growing pains. Continue Reading

Higher Ed/Workforce

Surprise Gift: Free Tuition for All N.Y.U. Medical Students (New York Times)
The New York University School of Medicine announced on Thursday that it would cover the tuition of all its students, regardless of merit or need, citing concerns about the "overwhelming financial debt" facing graduates. Continue Reading

Why Does Publishing Higher-Ed Research Take So Long? (Chronicle of Higher Education)
Growth in the discipline, a spike in quality and international submissions, reluctance by scholars to review articles, and focus on a limited number of top publications all contribute to backlogs and sluggish turnaround, say editors of the top three journals in the field. Scholars are buzzing about prospective solutions, including more and bigger journals, honoraria to encourage article reviews, and an increase in online publication. Continue Reading

Vocational Training Is Back as Firms Pair With High Schools to Groom Workers (Wall Street Journal)
The renewed popularity of so-called career education programs marks a shift away from the idea that all students should get a liberal-arts education designed to prepare them for college. Continue Reading

Health Care

Rebates don't correlate to drug price spikes, AHIP study says (Modern Healthcare)
A new Milliman study commissioned by America's Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) downplayed the overall impact of rebates offered by drugmakers to insurers and pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) on total drug spending. The report blamed spiking costs on lack of competition. Continue Reading

Study links real-time EHR alerts with fewer complications, lower costs (Fierce Healthcare)
When physicians get the right kind of alert in an electronic health record-and actually follow its recommendation-it could result in fewer complications and lower costs among hospitalized patients, according to a new study. Continue Reading

New rule pushes for hospital price transparency (Employee Benefit Adviser)
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services announced a proposed rule aimed at providing patients with a clear price listing of the cost of their hospital charges. In an effort to fulfill the proposed rule's objective, CMS suggested an amendment to the requirements previously established by Section 2718(e) of the Affordable Care Act. Continue Reading


08.16 Cities as Centers for Deliberative Democracy

Thursday, August 16th, 2018 | Robert Cavalier, Director, Carnegie Mellon's Program for Deliberative Democracy

The New Role for Cities

The late Benjamin Barber, a political theorist, wrote that the dysfunction of democracy that we see at the national, and even state level, has caused us to return to the origins of democracy in metropolitan areas because it is in cities that we can get things done on a manageable scale. Consequently, cities are taking on a role once played by states. Barber’s book, “If Mayors Ruled the World,” has turned out to be prescient, especially in light of our federal government’s withdrawal from the Paris Accord.

Whether dealing with climate change, immigration or even trade, cities and metropolitan areas have for some time now taken initiatives and formed networks to address pressing social and economic issues. In light of the prevailing headwinds democracy itself faces today it is not surprising to look to cities as the place for innovations as well. One example of a city leading innovation in democracy is Pittsburgh, where under the mayor, Bill Peduto, the city has adopted “deliberative democracy.”

Deliberative Democracy

Under the ideals of deliberative democracy, political decisions are the product of fair and reasonable discussions and debate among the public.

In one sense, the principles and practice of deliberative democracy are straightforward: Create conditions for inclusive, informed and well-structured conversations; ensure that the results of these deliberations are taken seriously by stakeholders; and hope that those participating in these conversations leave with a positive attitude and a heightened sense of civic engagement.

In today’s political climate, this may seem Pollyannaish, but it is important to see how this situation came to be. Here, proponents of deliberative democracy are in a good position: its principles can help analyze the problem and its practices can help address the problem.

Today’s Political Climate: How did we get here?

Since the 18th century, the concept of democracy came to embody the ideas of the Enlightenment (basic rights including freedom of speech and thought). These ideals were expressed in our written constitution as amendments to an essentially mechanistic set of procedures that comprise the way our government works. Recently, this model of a “thin, liberal constitution” was seen as sufficient to create democracies abroad. Granted that there was a lot more to be done on the ground (establishing a rule of law, courts, districting for representatives, etc.), but essentially there was a belief that a constitution was like an algorithm - turn it on and democracy happens.

But we need to add the virtues of citizenship to the freedoms granted by our constitution. Such civic virtues include political toleration, a willingness to listen to other points of view, and the ability to give public reasons for one’s own view. A willingness, if you will, to engage in open and informed conversations with those who are different from us and our circle of friends. A society that has failed to instill these civic virtues will easily collapse into warring tribes -- as we have seen with the Sunni and Shia groups in the Middle East and the Red and Blue counties of America.

A second problem arises when democracies are seen as “‘vote centric”’ and the game of democracy becomes that of winning the most votes. Getting the most votes has evolved into a science these days and political consultants can use a whole array of strategies that involve framing, agenda setting, and manipulation to do whatever it takes to influence voters. Politics becomes a kind advertising campaign where winner takes all.

Deliberative Democracy Today

One could argue that a Madisonian interpretation of our Constitution envisions a deliberative democracy as its original intent. But contemporary interpretations of deliberative democracy go back to philosopher Jürgen Habermas’s view of democracy in the 1980s. For Habermas, those affected by a policy should participate in a rational conversation of that policy, allowing the force of the better argument to determine the outcome of the deliberative process.

Since the beginning of this Century, the field rapidly expanded as practitioners in mediation and group facilitation connected with theoreticians. As a result, deliberation is now aligned with a set of procedures designed to provide the basic requirements for informed, well-structured conversations linked to outcomes of some sort. Today, organizations like the National Coalition for Dialogue and Deliberation have over 3,000 followers and many universities have programs in the field of deliberative democracy.

In essence, a deliberative democracy is not a society that ‘talks’ but a model of democracy that is instantiated in a set of explicit protocols that I call Deliberative Loops. One can adjust these protocols as the situation requires. Everyday Democracy, for instance, uses multiple learning circles spread out over a period of weeks.

Despite expansion through the integration of theory and practice, the link between this practice and the functioning of government was limited to ad hoc funding opportunities and both large and small scale projects. These activities were not insignificant and many were quite successful in fulfilling the desiderata of deliberative democracy. A great deal of empirical data was also compiled, leading to rigorous assessment studies of actual real-world protocol driven citizen deliberative forums. But the crucial link between the principles and practices of deliberative democracy and the everyday functioning of government had not been established.

Institutionalizing Deliberative Democracy at the Level of Local Government

In 2013 a Civic Health Index sponsored by the National Conference on Citizenship recommended that the City of Pittsburgh become a national center for deliberative democracy. Mayor Peduto endorsed this recommendation and in 2014 the city ran six “Community Deliberative Forums” to assist in the hiring of a new Police Chief. In light of the quality of the feedback and the degree to which the public expressed its appreciation of the process, the city began to develop its own in-house capacity to run these forums. The city chose to do so in areas that meet the regulatory requirements for Public Comment. To date there have been three City Budgets (2016, 2017 and 2018) using Community Deliberative Forums as well as special Community Deliberative Forums on topics like affordable housing. The City has even published its own handbook on Community Deliberative Forums and made it available for use by the National League of Cities and other organizations here and abroad (

This model of deliberative democracy is working in Pittsburgh and can work in other cities as well. But it is hard to see how it can work its way up to state legislatures and the federal government, given our political climate. Mickey Edwards’ book, “The Parties vs The People,” offers suggestions by which we can “‘move the furniture around”’ in Washington to help those bodies live up to their potential. The subtitle is telling: “How to Turn Democrats and Republicans into Americans.” But it’s a daunting task. Better to see how cities can do it. There’s even a handbook.

Robert Cavalier, PhD is Emeritus Teaching Professor in Carnegie Mellon’s Philosophy Department and Director of the Program for Deliberative Democracy, which won a 2008 Good Government Award from the Pittsburgh League of Women Voters. He is author of Democracy for Beginners (For Beginners LLC, 2009) and Editor of Approaching Deliberative Democracy: Theory and Practice (Carnegie Mellon University Press, 2011).

Comment (2)

08.10 ENGAGING IDEAS - 08/10/2018

Friday, August 10th, 2018 | PUBLIC AGENDA


Democratic Socialism Threatens Minorities (The Atlantic)
Nothing better protects victims of bigotry than a system where they can pursue their needs and wants outside the realm of popular control. Continue Reading

Facebook should shut down its News Feed until the midterm elections (
This week, Facebook announced that it had uncovered accounts and pages with a total of nearly 300,000 followers that were propaganda intended to interfere with the midterm elections this November. While the social media company's revelation fell short of stating that Russia was behind these covert accounts, other federal law enforcement and government officials later confirmed as much. Continue Reading

Preventing the suicide of American democracy (The Hill)
A new study of American public attitudes suggests our democracy indeed may be heading toward a cliff, but it also suggests ways we can pull it back toward health and long-term survival. Continue Reading


As Affordable Housing Crisis Grows, HUD Sits on the Sidelines (The New York Times)
The country is in the grips of an escalating housing affordability crisis. Millions of low-income Americans are paying 70 percent or more of their incomes for shelter, while rents continue to rise and construction of affordable rental apartments lags far behind the need. Continue Reading

The real reason you're not getting a pay raise (Vox)
The economy is growing strongly, the unemployment rate has been at or below 4.5 percent for 16 straight months, but wage growth remains disappointingly low. Continue Reading

How inequality is affecting nations' economic growth (Eyewitness News)
A new study by the Opportunity and Growth Institute at the Minneapolis Fed found that the housing boom and bust made middle-class Americans poorer but boosted wealth for the richest 10%, widening the income and wealth gap substantially. Continue Reading


Here's How Colleges Can Get More Involved in Elections - and Not Just in the Midterms (Chronicle of Higher Education)
A new report released on Thursday from the Institute for Democracy & Higher Education at Tufts University's Jonathan M. Tisch College of Civic Life, tries to answer that question. The report draws on years of research, including IDHE's data on college voter registration and turnout, said Nancy Thomas, director of the institute. Continue Reading

Stanford Undergrads Build New Platform to Connect Citizens with Elected Officials (Government Technology)
Pulse is a civic engagement platform that simplifies info about legislation, allows constituents to make their opinions known and gives elected leaders a simplified dashboard to process input. Continue Reading

Driving citizen engagement through mobile technologies (GCN)
Encouraging citizens to be more involved in their own governance is nothing new. The direct democracy model of ancient Athenian government, in which every (free) citizen voted directly on laws and other legislation, is perhaps the most famous -- and extreme -- example of the principle of citizen engagement. Continue Reading


Only 20% of US kids study a language in school-compared to 92% in Europe (Quartz)
Kids in the US take classes in English, which works out pretty well for them. The dominant global language right now happens to be their default. Perhaps that's one reason why only 20% of US students in kindergarten through 12th grade learn a foreign language, according to new Pew Research Center data. Continue Reading

More teachers are turning to crowdfunding sites to pay for books, supplies, and field trips (Vox)
Educators at high-poverty schools spend more out of pocket on their classrooms. Continue Reading

Worried about enrollment, some Colorado school districts are suing to prevent cross-district busing (Chalkbeat)
Six school districts and the associations that represent them are suing to stop a change to Colorado law that could increase access to school choice but that was approved under questionable circumstances. Continue Reading

Higher Ed/Workforce

Why fewer kids work the kind of summer jobs that their parents used to have (
While the presence of teenagers in the summer workforce in July 1978 was at 72 percent, the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Current Population Survey reported a July 2016 teen labor force participation rate of 43 percent. A recent report by the Pew Research Center analyzed the average summer employment rate for 16- to 19-year-olds in June, July and August 2017 and found that only 35 percent of teens has a summer job. Continue Reading

Abuse Scandals Involving Doctors Have Shaken Several Colleges. Now Others Are Making Changes. (Chronicle of Higher Education)
Fallout from incidents at Michigan State, the University of Southern California, and Ohio State has driven institutions to add new protective measures - both to safeguard students and to minimize their own liability. Continue Reading

Netflix Versions of Higher Education Emerge (
Tech startups such as Coorpacademy are trying to break into the global corporate education sector, dominated by business schools and this year estimated to be worth $362 billion, according to analysts Training Industry Research. New entrants offer eye-catching alternatives, and are often aimed at younger workers. But they have a long way to go. Continue Reading

Health Care

Governors Association Works with Eight States to Improve Health Data Sharing (Government Technology)
In a 16-month initiative, the National Governors Association is working with eight states on health policies that could enhance data sharing and improve identity management and cost effectiveness. Continue Reading

Value-based purchasing programs tougher for academic hospitals (Modern Healthcare)
Academic medical centers are penalized more under the CMS' various value-based purchasing programs than community hospitals, according to a new report. Continue Reading

Are diagnostic health apps accurate? Researchers say there's no way to tell (Fierce Healthcare)
As more people turn to their phone or laptop for a medical diagnosis, some industry experts are pointing to a growing evidence gap that could leave consumers unable to determine which apps are most effective. Continue Reading


08.06 Witnessing deliberative democracy up close

Monday, August 6th, 2018 | Billi Jo Maynard

Late on a Monday evening in July, roughly 30 people gathered at St. Alban’s Episcopal Church to discuss the Brooklyn neighborhood of Canarsie. Canarsie is a culturally vibrant community that for decades has welcomed many immigrants from the Caribbean. The participants at the meeting had come together to address a range of environmental and economic challenges facing their neighborhood, especially the long-term impacts of Superstorm Sandy and attempts to prepare for future disasters. Throughout my undergraduate studies as a political science major, I have come across the subjects of community engagement and public deliberation before. However, until this meeting in Canarsie, I had never had the privilege to witness them firsthand.

Several things surprised me throughout this meeting, but one thing in particular stood out to me. Before this meeting, I had the common misconception of thinking that all people who attend community engagement functions come because they are angry about something and they want to make a change. To my most pleasant surprise, the community members of Canarsie expressed a deep love for their community. This is not to say that everyone believed that Canarsie was a perfect place. In fact, there were several community problems addressed throughout the meeting that all individuals seemed to be in consensus on, such as the need for a central community center and more accessible community information. However, the community members seemed less angered by these problems, and more motivated by a desire to see their community thrive and grow.

At this time in American society, it is easy to feel disenchanted with the whole idea of community engagement. It seems as if the division we feel on politics will hinder any progress we hope to make whether it is on a large or a small scale. However, after witnessing the community members of Canarsie come together and find a common ground for everyone, I feel much more optimistic about the progress we can make through community engagement.

While the main point of the meeting was to develop an understanding of Canarsie and the problems that people in the community faced, I was also able to learn about all of the things people loved about this community. Simple things such as functioning transportation systems and quiet streets were mentioned multiple times. What stood out to me the most though, was the feeling of “home” everyone said they had of Canarsie. The Canarsie I read about on paper, and the Canarsie that I got to witness firsthand are two completely different places. One woman even said, “People have a deep sense of ownership here in Canarsie.”

Billi Jo Maynard is an honors student at Penn State University and Nevins Fellow who interned at Public Agenda this summer.

Public Agenda and the Science and Resilience Institute at Jamaica Bay at CUNY: Brooklyn College in coordination with the Canarsie Community Development, Inc. hosted a listening session on July 16 with Canarsie residents to discuss issues relevant to the community and how relationships with elected officials can be strengthened.


  1   Page 2    3   4   5   6   7  . . .  60  Next >>