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07.20 ENGAGING IDEAS - 07/20/2018

Friday, July 20th, 2018 | PUBLIC AGENDA


Complicating the Narratives (The Whole Story)
What if journalists covered controversial issues differently - based on how humans actually behave when they are polarized and suspicious? Continue Reading

FBI Director Says Russia Still Seeking To Interfere In U.S. Democracy (NPR)
FBI Director Christopher Wray said Wednesday that he stands by the U.S. intelligence agencies' assessment that Russia interfered in the 2016 election, and he warned that the Kremlin has not stopped trying to undermine American democracy. Continue Reading

America's Factory Towns, Once Solidly Blue, Are Now a GOP Haven (Washington Post)
A generation ago, Democrats represented much of the country's manufacturing base. Now, it's in GOP hands, a swing remaking both parties. Continue Reading


Income Inequality in the U.S. Is Rising Most Rapidly Among Asians (Pew)
Asians displace blacks as the most economically divided group in the U.S. Continue Reading

The U.S. Does Poorly On Yet Another Metric of Economic Mobility (Forbes)
A new report from the World Bank tracks 148 countries, with 96 percent of the world's population, to answer the age-old question of how much economic opportunity and upward economic mobility a country really offers its citizens. Continue Reading


Inside the Creation of New York City's New Affordable Housing Design Guidelines (Pacific Standard)
A public design commission has created a guide that instructs developers in how to create more coherent design for housing projects across the city. Continue Reading

National Day of Civic Hacking (Code for America)
On August 11th, 2018, join the Code for America Brigades for a nationwide day of action that brings together civic leaders, local governments, and community organizations to tackle some of our toughest challenges. Continue Reading

Houston's Third Ward Residents Want More Say over Development (Next City)
"Because we don't have zoning and we don't have many regulatory processes, the community land trust means that we at least have an opportunity to determine who benefits from development in our community." Continue Reading


How food deliveries could change lunchtime at school (Christian Science Monitor)
Across the country, more food catering programs are making it easier for students to enjoy healthy lunches at school and easing the stress of packing lunches on parents by providing alternatives to what is offered at the cafeteria. Continue Reading

The Private-School Persuasion of the Supreme Court (The Atlantic)
Brett Kavanaugh, Trump's latest nominee for the bench, graduated from a Catholic high school. So did four of the current Justices. Continue Reading

Indiana spends $3M on scholarships for future teachers, but few students of color win them (Chalkbeat)
For the second year in a row, very few students of color received a prestigious Indiana scholarship designed to attract new teachers. Out of 200 high school seniors and current college students who received the Next Generation Hoosier Educators Scholarship this year, only five come from under-represented minority groups, the Indiana Commission for Higher Education said. Continue Reading

Higher Ed/Workforce

To Recruit Students, Colleges Turn to Corporate-Marketing Playbook (Wall Street Journal)
Schools borrow retailers' approach in analyzing consumer databases; triggering online ads. Continue Reading

Perpetuating Inequity Despite Higher Education Expansion (Inside Higher Ed)
Responding to the complex realities behind equity challenges is not especially easy in the context of a young, rapidly 'massifying', and under-resourced system. Continue Reading

Some Colleges Cautiously Embrace Wikipedia (The Chronicle of Higher Education)
Academics have traditionally distrusted Wikipedia, citing the inaccuracies that arise from its communally edited design and lamenting students' tendency to sometimes plagiarize assignments from it. Now, Davis said, higher education and Wikipedia don't seem like such strange bedfellows. At conferences these days, "everyone's like, 'Oh, Wikipedia, of course you guys are here.'" Continue Reading

Health Care

Maryland health regulator expands hospital price transparency efforts (Fierce Healthcare)
The Maryland Health Care Commission is expanding its price transparency initiative with tools aimed at getting consumers pushing for information about cost and quality directly from hospitals and doctors. Continue Reading

The Astonishingly High Administrative Costs of U.S. Health Care (The Upshot)
Hidden from view: The complexity of the system comes with costs that aren't obvious but that we all pay. Continue Reading

Poll: Half of Americans find health care harder to afford this year (The Hill)
Nearly half of respondents in a new poll said they are now finding it more difficult to afford health care than they were a year ago, according to a poll released Thursday. Continue Reading


07.13 ENGAGING IDEAS - 07/13/2018

Friday, July 13th, 2018 | PUBLIC AGENDA


Will a Five-Minute Discussion Change Your Mind? A Countrywide Experiment on Voter Choice in France (American Economic Association)
This paper provides the first estimate of the effect of door-to-door canvassing on actual electoral outcomes, via a countrywide experiment embedded in François Hollande's campaign in the 2012 French presidential election. Continue Reading

Is America hopelessly ungovernable? (Los Angeles Times)
Americans seem hell-bent on slicing our population into smaller and ever smaller groups of them and us. Continue Reading

Where American Politics Can Still Work: From the Bottom Up (New York Times)
Civic coalitions are succeeding at revitalizing old towns where governmental efforts have failed. Continue Reading


Key findings on the rise in income inequality within America's racial and ethnic groups (Pew)
The rise in inequality within America's racial and ethnic communities varies strikingly from one group to another, according to a new Pew Research Center analysis of government data. Continue Reading

A TV Show So Dystopian Its Host Says It Shouldn't Exist (The Atlantic)
Paid Off delivers a queasy illustration of American inequality and political dysfunction. Continue Reading

Chan-Zuckerberg Initiative Throws Weight Behind Affordable Housing (Next City)
Facebook is voting "yes" on California's Proposition 1. Continue Reading


Nextdoor Is Betting a Social Network Can Still Be a Platform for Politics (New York Times)
Nextdoor, the neighborhood social media site, is partnering with local and state public agencies to bring voting information to more Americans. Continue Reading

Activism in the Social Media Age (Pew)
As the #BlackLivesMatter hashtag turns 5 years old, a look at its evolution on Twitter and how Americans view social media's impact on political and civic engagement. Continue Reading


Bill Gates spent hundreds of millions of dollars to improve teaching. New report says it was a bust. (Washington Post)
A major new report concludes that a $575 million project partly underwritten by the Gates Foundation that used student test scores to evaluate teachers failed to achieve its goals of improving student achievement - as in, it didn't work. Continue Reading

Educators Turn to Programs for Top Students to Narrow the 'Excellence Gap' (New York Times)
With test-score gaps narrowing but remaining stubbornly persistentafter years of efforts, some in the education field are taking a fresh look at programs for advanced students that once made them uneasy, driven by the same desire to help historically disadvantaged groups. Continue Reading

Students in Detroit Are Suing the State Because They Weren't Taught to Read (The Atlantic)
What to do when a school is infested with vermin, when textbooks are outdated, when students can't even read? Perhaps the answer is sue the government. Continue Reading

Higher Ed/Workforce

You Graduated Cum Laude? So Did Everyone Else (Wall Street Journal)
With more students boasting flashy GPAs, academic honors lose their luster. Continue Reading

The New Toll of American Student Debt in 3 Charts (The New York Times)
The reach of America's student loan problem - total debt is now about $1.4 trillion - is vast. Millions of people are in default, and many young people are graduating into adulthood facing payments that limit their ability to buy homes and to start families of their own. Some employershave even begun dangling student loan repayment benefits as a perk to potential workers. Continue Reading

More high school grads than ever are going to college, but 1 in 5 will quit (Hechinger Report)
While the number of students has been rising, however, so has the proportion who begin as full-time freshmen but fail to come back for a second year. Fifty-five percent who started in 2015 were gone by the following year, the most recent period for which the figures are available, according to U.S. Department of Education data analyzed by The Hechinger Report. That's up from 44 percent two years before. Continue Reading

Health Care

By the numbers: Inequality impacts U.S. cancer death rates (Axios)
By addressing health disparities from socioeconomic issues that continue to be prevalent in the U.S., there could be an estimated 25% reduction in overall cancer death rates. Continue Reading

Can Big Data Solve the Health Insurance Transparency Problem (Health IT Analytics)
Could on-demand health insurance with a big data analytics foundation help consumers make smarter financial decisions and cut wasteful spending? Continue Reading

Americans are closely divided over value of medical treatments, but most agree costs are a big problem (Pew)
Americans have mixed assessments about the overall value of medical treatments today, even while a strong majority says science has generally improved the quality of U.S. health care, according to a recent Pew Research Center survey. At the same time, a substantial majority considers quality health care unaffordable. Continue Reading

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06.29 ENGAGING IDEAS - 06/29/2018

Friday, June 29th, 2018 | PUBLIC AGENDA


Gerrymandering Critics Suffer Twin Blows at the Supreme Court (Governing)
The Texas case involves racial gerrymandering, while the North Carolina case deals with partisan gerrymandering -- something the justices have hinted is unconstitutional but have yet to rule against.

The latest sign of political divide: Shaming and shunning public officials (Washington Post)
Anger and division in American politics are creating a rising phenomenon: the public shaming and shunning of political figures while they are going about their private lives.

How we know journalism is good for democracy (Local News Lab)
According to new data being released later this month, at least 900 communities across the United States have faced profound erosion in their access to local news and information since 2004.


The Minimum Wage Just Turned 80. Economists Don't Give It Enough Credit(Fortune)
At the deepest level, the minimum wage embodies justice. It speaks to the words of Martin Luther King Jr. that "all labor has dignity"-and so deserves a decent rate of pay..

'Squeezed' Explores Why America Is Getting Too Expensive For The Middle Class (NPR)
Author Alissa Quart writes that the costs of housing, child care, health care and college are outpacing salaries and threatening the livelihoods of middle class Americans.

An autopsy of the American dream (Vox)
Brill has been writing about class warfare in the US since 2011, and the picture he paints is as depressing as it is persuasive.


Re-released, Infogagement: Citizenship and Democracy in the Age of Connection (PACE)
So much about our lives, communities, and social compact is being re-envisioned. Yet here, in the intersection of information, technology, engagement, and public life, are seeds of current American upheaval.

Civic engagement declines when local newspapers shut down (Journalist's Resource)
Studies have found that areas with fewer local news outlets and declining coverage also have lower levels of civic engagement and voter turnout.

Smart Cities 3.0: 5G, Edge Computing and Citizen Engagement(State Tech Magazine)
With advanced technology and careful planning, city governments can alleviate growing problems seen in many of today's urban communities and become more sustainable for future generations.


AmeriCorps 'volunteers' in Denver schools were district employees, investigation finds (Chalkbeat)
The AmeriCorps program in Denver Public Schools has been terminated after an investigation found the district broke rules by recruiting its own employees to serve as volunteers, according to a report released Wednesday.

New education budget threatens dozens of low-performing Detroit schools with closure - again (Chalkbeat)
Dozens of struggling Detroit schools could face closure once again after Gov. Rick Snyder signed an education budget on Thursday that seeks to stiffen consequences for low-scoring schools.

A $1 billion Gates Foundation-backed education initiative failed to help students, according to a new report - here's what happened (Business Insider)
A seven-year, nearly $1 billion education initiative centered on improving teaching quality in low-income schools - and bankrolled in part by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation - largely failed to help students, according to a new report from nonprofit policy think tank RAND.

Higher Ed/Workforce

Vocational Programs Get Boost From Congress(Wall Street Journal)
Bill that provides incentives for technical training programs set to pass, in rare moment of bipartisan agreement.

Should America's Universities Stop Taking So Many International Students? (The Atlantic)
Critics say the country's higher-education institutions should focus on ensuring more Americans get four-year degrees, but college presidents highlight the benefits of global diversity on campus.

Health Care

Can Low-Intensity Care Solve High Health Care Costs? (The Upshot)
The shift toward cheaper settings like outpatient clinics and homes is a worthy goal, but new research is showing us where we shouldn't cut corners.

White House wants to cut this public health service corps by nearly 40 percent (Washington Post)
The White House is proposing to reduce by nearly 40 percent the uniformed public health professionals who deploy during disasters and disease outbreaks, monitor drug safety and provide health care in some of the nation's most remote and disadvantaged areas.

Fewer Americans are spending their final days in the hospital and more are dying at home(Los Angeles Times)
The American way of dying seems to have become less frantic, desperate and expensive. That's the upshot of a new study that finds that seniors insured by Medicare who died in 2015 were less likely to do so in a hospital and more likely to pass away in a home or other community setting than those who died in 2000.


06.27 The Collision of Journalism, Technology and Civic Engagement

Wednesday, June 27th, 2018 | WILL FRIEDMAN, PH.D.

Part of our monthly "On The Agenda" newsletter. To receive the latest email updates from Public Agenda, click here.

Four years ago, Matt Leighninger, Public Agenda's vice president of public engagement, wrote a paper called "Infogagement" for Philanthropy for Active Civic Engagement (PACE). In the paper, Matt predicted that journalism, technology and civic engagement were on a collision course. It seems today we're witnessing that collision and its harmful effects on our democracy in the form of fake news, echo chamber groupthink, information overload, populist instability, the erosion of local journalism and the acceleration of society's trust crisis.

Last week, PACE, in partnership with Public Agenda, re-released this important paper which contains a new introduction from Matt and a series of commentaries from thought leaders across the fields of civic engagement, journalism, technology and philanthropy. How can we engage people constructively and productively in the digital age? What are the dangers we must overcome, and how can we do so?

The challenges are vast, but, as Matt notes, "... it isn't all bad news."

Infogagement: Citizenship and Democracy in the Age of Connection is a must-read for anyone who wants to explore the implications of digital information and communications for democracy.


06.22 ENGAGING IDEAS - 06/22/2018

Friday, June 22nd, 2018 | PUBLIC AGENDA


What Role Does Religion Play In American Politics? (NPR)
Rachel Martin talks to Cokie Roberts, who answers listener questions on how religion has influenced public policy in America. Continue Reading

Distinguishing Between Factual and Opinion Statements in the News (Pew)
The politically aware, digitally savvy and those more trusting of the news media fare better; Republicans and Democrats both influenced by political appeal of statements. Continue Reading

** And take the quiz!

Video- Money in Politics with Robert Reich and Debbie Dooley (Living Room Conversations)
A conversation co-hosted by Tea Party Patriots co-founder Debbie Dooley and President Clinton's fmr. Secretary of Labor and UC Berkeley professor Robert Reich. Continue Reading


Living Paycheck to Paycheck, and Hour to Hour (CityLab)
A new survey finds that service workers in Connecticut are hungry for more hours, and for more predictable schedules.  Continue Reading  

It's time to move beyond the word gap (Brookings)
In our recent article in Child Development we sought to test the claim of Hart and Risley of a 30-million-word gap between the amount of vocabulary heard by our nation's poorest and most affluent children.  Continue Reading

Poor Americans Really Are in Despair (The Atlantic)
The wealth gap is also a happiness gap. Continue Reading


Not That Long Ago, New York City Really Was Run From a Smoke-filled Backroom (New York Magazine)
As late as 1989, an undemocratic entity called the Board of Estimate made the city's key decisions. When it was banned, a new political era was born. Continue Reading

Inclusive Growth and the Happiness Factor (Governing)
Tracking residents' feelings of well-being can guide cities toward policies that create opportunities for everybody. Continue Reading

To Build a Better Bus System, Ask a Driver (CityLab)
The people who know buses best have ideas about how to reform the system, according to a survey of 373 Brooklyn bus operators. Continue Reading

Higher Education/Workforce

The Costly Downside to Ditching AP (Inside Higher Ed)
While the program has its downsides, schools looking to give their students a more equal footing as college candidates shouldn't overlook the benefits, argues Ali Lincoln. Continue Reading

Harvard Rated Asian-American Applicants Lower on Personality Traits, Suit Says  

(New York Times)
Harvard consistently rated Asian-American applicants lower than others on traits like "positive personality," likability, courage, kindness and being "widely respected," according to an analysis of more than 160,000 student records filed Friday by a group representing Asian-American students in a lawsuit against the university. Continue Reading

The College-Graduation Problem All States Have (The Atlantic)
Across the country, black and Latino adults are far less likely to hold a college degree than white adults. Can better support for colleges that serve a high percentage of minorities change that?

Continue Reading


How bad is teacher pay? Nearly 1 in 5 teachers works a second job, report says (Washington Post)
Across the country, 18 percent of teachers earn income outside the classroom, according to a National Center for Education Statistics report released Wednesday. The finding comes from a nationally representative survey of teachers conducted in the 2015-2016 school year. Continue Reading

Why Are Rich, White Girls Struggling in Math? (The Atlantic)
A new study reveals the extent to which children's geographic surroundings contribute to gender disparities in schools. Continue Reading

After five years, the Tennessee-run district isn't performing any better than low-performing schools receiving no intervention, research says (Chalkbeat)
After five years of trying to turn around low-performing schools, Tennessee's state-run schools aren't performing any better than schools that haven't received any intervention, according to new research released Tuesday. Continue Reading

Health care

Healthcare price transparency in U.S. not improved in recent years (Reuters)
Although government measures and healthcare industry initiatives have tried to make prices more accessible to U.S. patients recently, researchers say there has been little improvement. Continue Reading

Is This the Hospital That Will Finally Push the Expensive U.S. Health Care System to Innovate? (Harvard Business Review)
There was a time when the American steel industry seemed invincible. The American automotive industry looked rock-solid. American consumer electronics industry seemed untouchable. In every one of these cases, global competition changed the game forever. Will the same happen to health care in the United States? Continue Reading


06.15 ENGAGING IDEAS - 06/15/2018

Friday, June 15th, 2018 | PUBLIC AGENDA


Maine Tests a New Way of Voting, and Opts to Keep It (Governing)
On Tuesday, the state became the first to use ranked-choice voting, a system that could prevent "spoiler" candidates from causing havoc in crowded races. Continue Reading

Poll Finds Most Parents and Kids Agree on Trump, Economy (US News & World Report)
A survey conducted by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research and MTV finds that parents and their kids agree about a lot of things when it comes to politics. Continue Reading

California? Or Cali-Three-Nia? Proposal To Split State Will Be On Ballot In November (NPR)
A proposal to divide California into three separate states will appear on the ballot in November, after an idiosyncratic, years-long quest by a venture capitalist. Continue Reading


What To Do About the Rise of Mega-Regions (CityLab)
We need to make urbanism more inclusive and democratic if we want to realize a better future, and that means devolving power from the dysfunctional nation-state to cities and neighborhoods. Continue Reading

Building a strong middle class in the American Mountain West (Brookings)
In a new paper for Brookings Mountain West, "Upward Mobility in the American Mountain West," Mr. Reeves digs into some of the data on mobility, education, and class in the major cities and institutions of the region. Continue Reading

A radical plan to fix inequality is making waves with its many moral dilemmas (Quartz)
What if everything was for sale? What if you had to name a price for everything you owned and be willing to sell it if a buyer matched your offer? And you couldn't cheat by overestimating the price to keep your property because your taxes would be based on the value you chose. It's enough to make even the most ardent believers in free markets squirm a little. Continue Reading


Digital Equity Lab Launches in NYC (Government Technology)
The effort, based out of The New School, is led by Maya Wiley and addresses equitable models of digital access, digital equity frameworks for online issues, and the ways that smart cities create both benefits and risks for vulnerable communities. Continue Reading

The Future of Civic Engagement (Government Executive)
From its earliest days, American democracy has been rooted in vigorous civic engagement. More recently, there have been fears that increasing distrust in institutions will lead to large scale disengagement in civic life. Continue Reading

Community Engagement in Public Schools and How Not to Do It (Nonprofit Quarterly)
Community engagement provides the opportunity to open dialogue and hear different voices. Especially if you're a governmental entity, bureaucratic invitations and biased polling is no way to engender trust in the process. Continue Reading

Higher Education/Workforce

At Christian Colleges, a Collision of Gay Rights and Traditional Values (New York Times)
Christian colleges are also grappling with a giant generational rift over what it means to be Christian - from students' more accepting views of L.G.B.T.Q. individuals and the conviction that faith demands social justice activism, to their comfort with using social media to organize a counter movement. Continue Reading

Colleges and State Laws Are Clamping Down on Fraternities (New York Times)
There has been at least one school-related hazing death each year in the United States since 1961, according to Hank Nuwer, a Franklin College journalism professor and the author of multiple books on hazing. Most, but not all, have occurred during fraternity initiation events. Continue Reading

A New Spelling Champion; And Walmart Adds A College Option For Workers (Southern California Public Radio)
One dollar per day is all that Walmart employees will need to pay to take online classes towards a college degree. The company announced this week it will cover the rest - including books and other fees. Continue Reading


Dividing World History (Inside Higher Ed)
Another AP history exam comes under scrutiny, with critics saying a proposed rewrite of the AP World History exam, focusing on events after 1450, is too Eurocentric. Continue Reading

As caregivers struggle to make ends meet, 28,000 Detroit children go without care (Chalkbeat)
The financial demands of providing early education in Michigan have contributed to Detroit's status as a "child care desert," a place where access to quality early learning is limited or unavailable. The city is short licensed or registered early child care and education slots for at least 28,000 children ages birth to 5, according to IFF, a nonprofit community development financial institution. Continue Reading

Parkland students to travel cross-country to register young voters (Christian Science Monitor)
Students will also be advocating for gun control measures such as tighter regulation, universal background checks, and training for individuals who own an AR-15 and other semi-automatic riffles. Continue Reading

Health care

More independent rural hospitals will seek some type of affiliation with a larger hospital. (Modern Healthcare)
More than 40% of the country's rural hospitals that have been operating in the red as they try to manage care for a declining population that is often older, sicker and poorer than their urban counterparts. Continue Reading

NJ Passes Healthcare Price Transparency Law to Stop Surprise Bills (RevCycle Intelligence)
Providers in New Jersey must give patients information on out-of-network services and publicly post their standard charges under a new healthcare price transparency law. Continue Reading

Would a Single-Payer System Require Painful Sacrifices From Doctors? (New York Times)
It is true that there clearly would be constraints on the income of doctors and other service providers in a single-payer system, and many of them would surely feel aggrieved by any attempt to reduce their salaries. But cutting their pay directly probably wouldn't happen, nor would it make sense. Continue Reading


06.08 ENGAGING IDEAS - 06/08/2018

Friday, June 8th, 2018 | PUBLIC AGENDA


A How-To Guide for Politics (New York Times)
American politics today is rife with cynicism. Many Americans don't vote. Others do, while lamenting polarization in Congress and distrusting the two major political parties. Continue Reading

Unexpectedly, Congress has begun to make bipartisan progress (The Hill)
At the end of March, pundits in Washington believed the legislative process was sputtering to a halt. As The Associated Press reported: "With passage of an enormous budget bill, the GOP-controlled Congress all but wrapped up its legislating for the year." But then something happened. Continue Reading

Please be polite: civility is the key to winning midterm elections in 2018 (USA Today)
In a time with so much political vitriol, candidates will win by being polite but firm. Without civility, our leaders cannot work together to govern. Continue Reading


Seven reasons to worry about the American middle class (Brookings)
We have already wrestled with how we define this group, considered its changing racial composition, and called upon experts to outline major policies geared toward improving its fate. But why all of this attention? Here are seven of the reasons we are worried about the American middle class. Continue Reading

The stark relationship between income inequality and crime (The Economist)
Both theory and data suggest that if you've got it, don't flaunt it. Continue Reading

American Job Openings Now Outnumber the Jobless (Wall Street Journal)
U.S. job openings rose to 6.7 million at the end of April, compared with the 6.3 million Americans who were unemployed. Continue Reading


Mapping Tool Takes Regional View of New York City Tri-State Area (Government Technology)
The Metro Region Explorer has revealed shifts in demographics, housing and workforce, which could impact the region's transit needs and overall economy. Continue Reading

City restarts program for new community ambassadors (WTOL)
Engage Toledo started an ambassador training program Wednesday night.

The initiative was launched last year to inspire civic engagement and participation. Continue Reading

Civic Innovation Day poses new challenges for local technologists, urbanists (Charlottesville Tomorrow)
Technology professionals, university students and other community members worked together on projects to improve local quality of life at the second annual Charlottesville Civic Innovation Day. Continue Reading


In the Age of Trump, Civics Courses Make a Comeback (New York Times)
For those teaching civics and civic engagement, the goal isn't to get students to finish one project, but to make community involvement a habit - and one type of action often does lead to another. Continue Reading

Can lowering class size help integrate schools? Maybe, according to new research (Chalkbeat)
A recent study suggests a concrete way that schools can attract and keep white families, while also boosting student achievement: lower class sizes. That approach drew in tens of thousands of students from California's private schools into the public system, according to the research. Continue Reading

D.C. passes emergency law to allow chronically absent students to graduate (Washington Post)
High school seniors who missed more than six weeks of class would still receive their diplomas under an emergency measure approved by the D.C. Council, even as the city remains mired in a graduation scandal. Continue Reading

Higher Ed/Workforce

Another big-name university drops SAT/ACT essay requirement (Washington Post)
On Friday, Yale University said applicants will no longer be required to submit an essay score from the SAT or the ACT. The policy will take effect for rising high school seniors who seek to enter the university's Class of 2023. Yale's action comes weeks after Harvard University and Dartmouth College dropped the requirement. Continue Reading

Colleges Grapple With Where - or Whether - to Draw the Line on Free Speech (New York Times)
Higher education is struggling to balance the demand by some students to be protected from offensive speech while guaranteeing freedom of speech to others. Continue Reading

The Confusing Information Colleges Provide Students About Financial Aid (The Atlantic)
Families need clarity when it comes to figuring out how much higher education is going to cost them. Unfortunately, that's not what they're getting. Continue Reading

Health Care

Sharing health costs with faith: Ministries offer coverage, savings as an alternative to traditional insurance (Duluth News Tribune)
"We're not a health insurance company, but it does meet the requirements to have some sort of health care solution," Gardner said.Continue Reading

Ideas to Make Health Care Affordable Again (Senator Bill Cassidy)
Price transparency mandates are catching on. But they may codify that which hasn't worked all that well so far. Continue Reading

If You Make Them Build It, They Still May Not Come (Managed Care Magazine)
Price transparency mandates are catching on. But they may codify that which hasn't worked all that well so far. Continue Reading


06.01 ENGAGING IDEAS - 06/01/2018

Friday, June 1st, 2018 | PUBLIC AGENDA


5 Key Takeaways From Tuesday's Primaries (New York Times)
It was a night for upsets and breakthroughs: In Georgia, a black woman was nominated for governor by a major party for the first time in any state. In Kentucky, a math teacher defeated a Republican power broker. And in Texas, the vice president of the United States faced the limits of his clout.

Poll: More Young People Say Politicians Care What They Think (US News & World Report)
A growing number of young people in the U.S. say politicians care about what they think, and more now believe they can have at least a moderate effect on government, according to a new poll.

The primeval tribalism of American politics (The Economist)
They are from opposite ends of the political spectrum, but they are happily married because they obey the oldest rule of politics.


Free Cash to Fight Income Inequality? California City Is First in U.S. to Try (New York Times)
Long plagued by poverty and desperation, Stockton, Calif., is testing universal basic income as a means of improving the lives of its residents.

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.

The alarming statistics that show the U.S. economy isn't as good as it seems (Washington Post)
The U.S. economy has a problem. The usual economic benchmarks look really good: America in 2018 is enjoying faster growth, low unemployment, record numbers of job openings and a stock market near an all-time high. Yet an alarming number of Americans are still struggling to get by.


Trump's Blocking of Twitter Users Is Unconstitutional, Judge Says (New York Times)
Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald, addressing a novel issue about how the Constitution applies to social media platforms and public officials, found that the president's Twitter feed is a public forum.

Improving Process, Resident Experience Among Big Ideas in Texas (Government Technology)
State officials discussed ways agencies can improve their process and resident experience alike at the annual Texas Digital Government Summit in Austin.

Buffalo Common Council Paves Way for Community-Driven Development (Next City)
"It empowers people to vet development in the community," said Buffalo Common Council President Darius G. Pridgen, who represents the Fruit Belt neighborhood. "This is one of my crown jewels in my term as councilmember."


Youth Centers to Offer Positive Support for Suspended Students(Christian Science Monitor)
Instead of sending suspended students home, a new pilot program called Positive Alternatives to Student Suspension in Massachusetts offers tutoring, counseling, and other forms of support to address underlying issues that led to the disciplinary action.

Michael Bloomberg Commits $375 Million to Education Initiatives (Wall Street Journal)
Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Thursday that he will donate $375 million to a variety of education initiatives nationwide over the next five years, increasing his commitment to an area that has been a core part of his Bloomberg Philanthropies for years.

Teachers Find Public Support as Campaign for Higher Pay Goes to Voters (The New York Times)
After shutting down schools and shaking up politics in six states, teachers are looking to the ballot box in their campaign for better pay and increased school funding. And their demands are meeting with widespread public support.

Higher Ed/Workforce

In Defense of the Liberal Arts (Inside Higher Education)
In an era when liberal arts programs are being eliminated or changed at institutions public and private, two organizations on Thursday issued a joint statement in defense of the values of liberal arts education and of liberal arts disciplines.

First Jobs Matter: Avoiding the Underemployment Trap (The Washington Post)
But underemployment may be far more widespread than we have imagined - affecting up to 43 percent of recent graduates, according to a report. This unprecedented analysis of 4 million unique résumés examines the scope and impact of underemployment on graduates in the years that follow college. It turns out that underemployment can mark the first steps to a permanent professional detour - more than a speed bump on the journey to a prosperous career.

After Obama-Era Crackdown, For-Profit Colleges Seek Nonprofit Status (Wall Street Journal)
Change would save the schools millions in taxes, lessen federal oversight and distance them from a tarnished industry reputation.

Health Care

Clinicians and Health Care Price Transparency-Buyers vs Sellers? (Jama Network)
The inaccessibility of price information in the US health care system prevents patients from anticipating and incorporating their health care costs into care-seeking decisions and from choosing the best-value clinician.

Healthcare pricing transparency remains elusive, study finds (Healthcare Dive)
Hospitals are not getting better at providing price estimates for procedures like total hip arthroplasty (THA), despite an industry push to provide that information to patients.

As centrist Democrats warm to government-sponsored healthcare, their road to single payer remains icy (Fierce Healthcare)
Democrats are gradually inching towards expanded government-sponsored healthcare, but in a time of GOP-controlled government, some wonder what the end goal is.


05.18 ENGAGING IDEAS - 05/18/2018

Friday, May 18th, 2018 | PUBLIC AGENDA


What Democracies Can Learn From Malaysia (The Atlantic)
Is it possible that the United States and Europe might learn something from Malaysia, a country long seen as a flawed semi-democracy?

Nonpartisan group aims to limit big money in politics (Boston Herald)
American Promise, a Mass­achusetts-based, nonpartisan organization founded to mobilize national support for a constitutional amendment addressing the out-of-control dominance of money over our political system, summarizes the problem in a new report titled “Government of Citizens, Not Money.”

Beyond just “literate,” how can you help news consumers be “news fluent”? (Nieman Lab)
News literacy is so last decade: Journalists and audiences need to focus on news fluency now, suggests a report from the American Press Institute.


Millennial women say dismal economy is preventing them from having children (Salon)
A historic drop in the fertility rate was partly due to millennial and GenX women struggling to make ends meet.

What the Future of Affordable Housing Already Looks Like (CityLab)
Affordable housing construction seems eternally scant in the U.S. If that ever changes, a new exhibit about the other side of the Atlantic Ocean has a few design ideas to share.

Surest Way to Face Marijuana Charges in New York: Be Black or Hispanic (The New York Times)
The police explanation that more black and Hispanic people are arrested on marijuana charges because complaints are high in their neighborhoods doesn’t hold up to scrutiny.


Is Participatory Budgeting the Answer to Cities’ Biggest Questions? (Government Technology)
Local governments have always let residents participate in the political process, but some are finding direct engagement is the way to answer difficult funding questions.

Partnerships, Collaboration a Consistent Theme in Illinois (Government Technology)
At the first-ever Chicago Digital Government Summit, chief information officers from Chicago, Cook County and elsewhere discussed why collaboration works and how to make it happen.

Is the United States Too Big to Govern? (New York Times)
What if trust in American democracy is eroding because the nation has become too big to be effectively governed through traditional means? With a population of more than 325 million and an enormously complex society, perhaps this country has passed a point where — no matter whom we elect — it risks becoming permanently dissatisfied with legislative and governmental performance.


Can a Business Exec Save One of the Largest School Districts in America? (Governing )
Austin Beutner, the new leader of Los Angeles schools, is the latest big-city superintendent with no education experience. Some say that -- and his ties to charter schools -- are cause for concern.

National program brings American Indian culture to Native students (Christian Science Monitor)
Under the Title VII Indian Education program, schools around the country can infuse workshops on indigenous culture into their curricula. In Utah, the program has helped students perform better in school, especially for those who are American Indian.

Teacher Activists Take Fight to the Polls (Education Week)
With many legislative sessions now wrapping up—and with teachers' core demands on pay and funding still unmet in some places—union and activist-group leaders in states such as Arizona, Colorado, Kentucky, and West Virginia are telling teachers and their supporters they need to keep the pressure on.

Higher Ed/Workforce

Don’t know the graduate next to you? You’re not alone. One-third of students take at least one class online. (Washington Post)
The expansion of online education has coincided with concerns about the price of brick-and-mortar education. And it has arrived as much improved technology gives time-pressed, place-bound adults the flexibility to earn a degree.

Georgia State, Leading U.S. in Black Graduates, Is Engine of Social Mobility (New York Times)
Georgia State, once seen as a night school for white businessmen, has reshaped itself amid a moral awakening and a raft of data-driven experimentation.

Health Care

With Feds' Approval, Vermont Could Be First State to Import Prescription Drugs From Canada (Governing)
Vermont Republican Gov. Phil Scott Wednesday signed legislation making his state the first to legalize importing prescription drugs from Canada, an idea President Donald Trump's top health officials oppose that's also drawn fierce opposition from the pharmaceutical industry.

Healthcare, freelanced: Where will gig economy workers get coverage? (Reuters)
There are plenty of problems lurking on America’s career ladder, but here is a big one: our healthcare systems are designed for the workforce of 1950.

'Human Frailty' Is a Byproduct of Mass Incarceration (The Atlantic)
In his new book Homeward, Harvard University professor Bruce Western explores what it’s like to reenter society after prison—and uncovers an epidemic of illness and mortality.


05.17 For Better Models of Democracy, Look to The Engaged Cities of Cali and Bologna

Thursday, May 17th, 2018 | MATT LEIGHNINGER

The main problem with American democracy is that we don’t realize it can be improved. We assume that we’re stuck with the system we have, and we ignore the fact that there are other varieties of democracy already out there in the world.

Two of the three winners of the Engaged Cities Award, given by the nonprofit organization Cities of Service, illustrate some of the possibilities. Both Santiago de Cali, in Colombia, and Bologna, Italy, demonstrate the power of putting citizens at the center of governance, giving them opportunities to engage that are meaningful, enjoyable, regular, and sustained.

Not too long ago, Cali was a city plagued by violence spilling over from drug wars and civil wars. It had a homicide rate of 15 per 100,000 inhabitants. Almost a third of the population came from places other than Cali, and there were regular conflicts between people from different places and cultures. Over 60 percent of Cali residents said they didn’t trust their neighbors.

To remedy an interrelated set of problems, Cali created a comprehensive system for local engagement. As part of a strategic planning process, they created a department and council devoted to “civic culture.” They conducted a comprehensive research process, reaching 30,000 people, to take stock of the civic landscape and find out what kinds of changes people supported.

The backbone of the new system is a set of “local councils for civic culture and peace,” with 15 councils each representing a district or "districto" that is made up of multiple neighborhoods. Unlike most neighborhood councils in the US, these councils are highly participatory and deliberative, and attract large numbers of people to their meetings and events. Each neighborhood develops a set of norms and “agreements of coexistence” to govern how they will work together. There is an explicit focus on engaging people of different “ethnic, cultural, artistic, religious and social groups.”

The councils make decisions on issues ranging from land use to waste management to environmental concerns. Neighborhoods also identify initiatives that they want to take on. The city supports these high-impact volunteering efforts with teams of professionals who help people plan, research and implement their ideas. Over 300 of those initiatives took place in the last year.

Each year, the work culminates with “Civic Culture Week,” a festival that attracts thousands of people.

The city developed a tool to measure progress called the “Diagnosis of Civic Culture.” Cali residents’ trust in their neighbors and perceptions of public safety have risen. Homicides and violent incidents are at their lowest levels in a decade.

In Bologna, a declining voter rate and increasing mistrust of government were signs of local civic decay. Rather than focusing solely on voter registration or electoral reforms, community leaders decided to be proactive about improving the relationship between residents and public institutions. The city adopted a “regulation on public collaboration between citizens and the City for the care and regeneration of urban commons” and created a new office for “civic imagination.”

To give this new vocabulary a real presence in the city, Bologna has a system of six District Labs which provide spaces for residents to develop plans, share information, make new connections and co-design collaborative projects for the improvement of the city’s physical infrastructure. The labs are considered the “antennae” of the neighborhoods, relaying ideas and concerns within the new engagement system.

In the last five years, 508 collaborative proposals have been developed and 357 have been implemented, with over 1,700 citizens participating in district meetings in the last year alone. The spinoff “Incredibol!” initiative, which called for the support of creative industries by allowing the re-use of public spaces to develop entrepreneurial projects, received 621 proposals, nominated 96 winners and assigned sixteen public spaces.

Alongside the district labs, Bologna has launched a citywide participatory budgeting process that also has engaged thousands of people. The city also uses a range of online tools, including direct emails, social media and a “Comunità” website to facilitate information-sharing and networking within and across districts.

A secret to the success of both Cali and Bologna is that, in those cities, engagement is fun. The Cali system capitalizes on the “recovery of streets and parks, murals, photographic exhibitions, soccer tournaments, gastronomic shows and festivals.” Bologna’s application for the Engaged Cities Award featured the roles played by artists, kindergarteners and cyclists.

Beyond the fun factor, local democracy in Cali and Bologna seems more vibrant because engagement in both cities is sustained and systemic, with a wide variety of opportunities for people to participate.

The third winner of the Engaged Cities Award, the city of Tulsa, Oklahoma, demonstrates another way to encourage and capitalize on citizen engagement. By creating a team of Urban Data Pioneers, they tapped the tech skills of people inside and outside City Hall. Through a range of new tools and apps, they are identifying and solving problems ranging from traffic incidents to blight.

A great virtue of the Engaged Cities Award, and the role played by Cities of Service in organizing it, is that it provides stories from near and far for spurring our civic imagination. If we are dissatisfied with the state of our democracy, there are inspiring examples to look to elsewhere, and many ways of improving public decision-making, problem-solving and community-building.

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