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11.26 Cities of Service Launches Second Annual Engaged Cities Award

Monday, November 26th, 2018 | Public Agenda

Cities of Service, a nonprofit organization that helps mayors build stronger cities by changing the way local government and citizens work together, launched the application process for its second annual Engaged Cities Award. The international award program recognizes cities that have actively engaged their citizens to solve a critical public problem.

All over the world, city leaders and citizens are reducing community violence, producing better budgets, creating safer streets and building stronger communities together. The award shines a light on the engagement solutions that have worked for these neighborhoods. Cities of Service creates blueprints, case studies, and other resources that highlight winning cities’ solutions so other cities can replicate their projects and their impact. You can find resources from the 2018 award at

Engaged Cities Award applicants must address a specific problem that directly affects the lives of citizens, such as homelessness, neighborhood safety, or extreme weather, or impacts the city’s ability to deliver vital services to the community.

The Engaged Cities Award is open to cities with populations of 30,000+ in the Americas and Europe. Cities of Service, along with an esteemed group of experts, will choose three winning cities. Each winner will receive a minimum of $50,000 and be announced as part of the Engaged Cities Award Summit in fall 2019.

Are you a city leader engaged in this kind of problem-solving, world-changing work with your citizens? Cities of Service wants to hear from you! Just answer five short questions and submit your application by January 18, 2019.

For more information about the Cities of Service Engaged Cities Award, including guiding philosophy, criteria, eligibility, timeline, and past winners, please visit:

Looking to learn more about last year’s winners? Check out this blog from Cities of Service Award judge and Public Agenda Vice President of Public Engagement Matt Leighninger.


11.16 ENGAGING IDEAS - 11/16/2018

Friday, November 16th, 2018 | PUBLIC AGENDA


Twitter Is Not the Echo Chamber We Think It Is (MIT Sloan)
Recent research challenges conventional wisdom about how users share information on the social platform. 
Continue Reading

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

Will the Left Go Too Far? (The Atlantic)
For the third time in a century, leftists are driving the Democratic Party's agenda. Will they succeed in making America more equitable, or overplay their hand? Continue Reading


Amazon HQ2 won't help New York's massive inequality problem (Curbed New York)
The corporation is set to receive more than $2 billion in public subsidies while its neighbors rely on food stamps. Continue Reading

Northern Virginia property owners are delighted Amazon HQ2 is moving in. Renters, first-time buyers and low-income residents aren't. (Washington Post)
Anticipation that the online retail giant would open its new headquarters in this Northern Virginia neighborhood of hotels, high-rise condominiums and office buildings set off a flurry of real estate speculation - even before the official announcement from Amazon on Tuesday morning. Continue Reading

After wrangling with Amazon, Bernie Sanders has set his sights on Walmart (Business Insider)
Bernie Sanders clashed with Amazon over its minimum wage - and prevailed. The online retailer bumped its minimum wage up to $15 an hour. But the senator from Vermont isn't finished wrangling with major companies over wages. The Washington Post reported on Wednesday that Sanders and California representative Ro Khanna are introducing legislation - the "Stop Walmart Act" - to compel Walmart to boost its minimum wage to $15 an hour. Continue Reading


25 newsrooms have attempted to bridge divisions - in person. Here's what they've learned (Nieman Lab)
"Whenever you have an individual interaction, a lot of the bluster, a lot of the generalizations, a lot of the group identifications fall away," one participant in Pennsylvania said." Continue Reading

PA MENTION - New Yorkers Decided They Want More Democracy, But What Does That Mean? (Gotham Gazette)
On Election Day, New Yorkers passed three ballot measures intended to strengthen local democracy. One of the approved plans is for the city to create a Civic Engagement Commission that will have several key responsibilities, including a new citywide participatory budgeting (PB) program, assistance to city agencies and nonprofits for their engagement efforts, and support to community boards to make them more participatory and representative of the communities they serve. Continue Reading

What It Takes: From Philadelphia, Lessons About Philanthropy and Civic Engagement (Inside Philanthropy)
Recent research conducted by New America colleagues and I looks at this massive, long-term initiative to revitalize Philadelphia's civic engagement ecosystem, and its successes and challenges so far. One of the initiative's goals is to invest in parks, recreation centers, and libraries as civic spaces. Continue Reading


Did giving extra money to struggling Denver schools boost test scores? Study suggests it did. (Chalkbeat)
With Republicans solidly in control of the Michigan legislature, governor-elect Gretchen Whitmer's education agenda may depend on finding a sliver of common ground with the opposite party. Continue Reading

Many Latino students lag academically in prosperous Maryland County (Washington Post)
A troubling number of Latino students in one of the nation's most prosperous counties are unprepared for kindergarten, lag in reading, drop out of high school and falter as they head to college, according to a report released Thursday. Continue Reading

Philadelphia schools adopt outdoor education as a graduation strategy (Education Dive)
The School District of Philadelphia has adopted a new strategy to boost graduation rates that has very little to do with reading, writing or arithmetic. Instead, it has everything to do with leadership skills, team building, character development and other byproducts of Outward Bound's outdoor expeditions. Continue Reading

Higher Ed/Workforce

One state uses data about job needs to help decide what colleges should teach (Hechinger Report)
A seemingly obvious way to connect supply with demand, the approach remains rare  Continue Reading

Fewer International Students Heading to the U.S. (Wall Street Journal)
American colleges and universities face growing challenge amid rising competition from other countries, concerns about safety and immigration policies Continue Reading

Amazon arrival spurs Virginia Tech to build technology campus in Northern Virginia (Washington Post)
Virginia Tech plans to build a $1 billion graduate campus within walking distance of Amazon's new headquarters in Northern Virginia, the keystone in an expansion of technology education in the state designed to lure the company to the region and then to address the long-term impact of Amazon's decision. Continue Reading

Health Care

CMS may allow hospitals to pay for housing through Medicaid (Modern Healthcare)
HHS Secretary Alex Azar on Wednesday said Medicaid may soon allow hospitals and health systems to directly pay for housing, healthy food or other solutions for the "whole person." Continue Reading

Experts: Trump administration's moves will put drug prices center stage in 2020 election (Fierce Healthcare)
The Trump administration's plan to peg Part B drug prices to those paid in other countries may not come to fruition in its current form, but it's meant more to signal to the healthcare industry-and voters-that it's serious on this issue, experts say. Continue Reading

Healthcare will outspend all other industries on R&D by 2020, PwC says (Healthcare Dive)
Healthcare is on track to be the No. 1 industry for global research and development spending, according to new analysis from PwC. The industry currently ranks second behind computing and electronics, but is expected to pull ahead by 2020. Continue Reading


11.09 ENGAGING IDEAS - 11/09/2018

Friday, November 9th, 2018 | PUBLIC AGENDA


Is Democracy at Risk? A Lesson Plan for U.S. and Global History Classes (New York Times)
Often we take for granted that the United States is a democracy, and that democracy is a form of government worth celebrating. This lesson starts there, but then pushes students to reflect on why democracies are worth protecting, what elements are essential to a healthy democracy and how it is that democracies sometimes fail. Continue Reading

Is More Democracy Always Better Democracy? (The New Yorker)
Parties are losing control over their candidates. Two scholars argue that ordinary Americans are the ones paying the price. Continue Reading


How resources and opportunities differ for NYC students (Hechinger Report)
Resources, instructional materials are drastically different for public school students living in the same city. Continue Reading

Democrats Win Control Of The Wealthiest Districts -- But Also The Most Unequal (Forbes)
Democrats took control of the House, gaining at least 30 seats (there are still technically 422 of 435 seats undeclared), and bringing the balance of power up to 225 Democrat representatives against 197 Republican. Democrats, in fact, now represent 41 out of the top-50 wealthiest congressional districts - and all 10 of the top-10 wealthiest districts, according to a recent election study. Continue Reading

Conservative Arkansas could soon have the highest effective minimum wage in the country (The Washington Post)
Arkansas is likely to have the highest effective minimum wage in the country soon, setting up a grand experiment in whether a high minimum wage in a poor state can raise workers out of poverty - or derail the state's economy. Continue Reading


The 'Gateway Drug to Democracy' (The Atlantic)
When people are asked how they would like to spend their tax dollars and are given an option to directly implement that binding decision themselves, "it really inspires a different way of thinking about our governments and our cities." Continue Reading

City Voters Resoundingly Decide to Place Term Limits on Community Boards (Sunnyside Post)
Voters in New York City have decided to place term limits on community board members. Community board members currently serve two-year terms, and are re-appointed without limit. Continue Reading

Record voter turnout in 2018 midterm elections (CBS News)
An estimated 113 million people participated in the 2018 midterm elections, making this the first midterm in history to exceed over 100 million votes, with 49 percent of eligible voters participating in the election. By comparison, the 2014 midterm elections had one of the lowest turnouts in American history, with only 36.4 percent of eligible voters participating. In 2010, the first midterm of President Obama's tenure, 41 percent of voters participated. Continue Reading


A rich Michigan district gets $10.1K per student. Its poorer neighbor gets $7.9K. Will Michigan's new divided government change the math (Chalkbeat)
With Republicans solidly in control of the Michigan legislature, governor-elect Gretchen Whitmer's education agenda may depend on finding a sliver of common ground with the opposite party. Continue Reading

EDlection2018: 2016 National Teacher of the Year Jahana Hayes Elected to U.S. Congress in CT, Promising to Back Teachers and Increase School Funding (The 74)
Democrat and 2016 National Teacher of the Year Jahana Hayes made history Tuesday night, becoming the first black woman elected to Congress in Connecticut. Continue Reading

Report: Schools investing in ed tech they don't use (Education Dive)
With the massive increase in ed tech and, as a result, education apps, schools continue to boost their investment in these programs - but in the end, they don't really use them. Continue Reading

Higher Ed/Workforce

Cal State Sees Major Gains in Graduation Rates (Inside Higher Ed)
Administrators at the California State University System worried two years ago when the system set ambitious goals for increasing graduation rates. They were concerned that low-income students and students of color would be harmed by the new targets. One criticism, for example, was that students would be pushed into courses they were not prepared to take. Instead, the nation's largest and most diverse public university system is seeing record levels of achievement and narrowed equity gaps among low-income and minority students. Continue Reading

A Divided Congress Is Unlikely to Compromise on Higher Ed. But What if It Did? (The Chronicle of Higher Education)
In the wake of Tuesday's election results, there will inevitably be talk of reauthorizing the Higher Education Act, the main federal law governing student aid and other key higher-education policies, during the next two years. Continue Reading

A Lesson From Montanans' Vote to Tax Themselves to Fund Higher Education (The Atlantic)
At a time when Republican trust in college overall is low, voters tend to keep supporting their local schools. Continue Reading

Health Care

Why Doctors Hate Their Computers (The New Yorker)
Digitization promises to make medical care easier and more efficient. But are screens coming between doctors and patients? Continue Reading

Healthcare providers concerned, unsure how to address CMS price transparency final rule (Healthcare Finance)
There is growing concern about how much value the rule really provides for patients and the potential perception problem it creates for hospitals. Continue Reading

Industry slow to improve patient health literacy (Modern Healthcare)
It wasn't long after the primary-care focused Rio Grande Valley Health Alliance in McAllen, Texas, was formed in 2013 that it became apparent the accountable care organization's patients had trouble talking with physicians about their health during office visits. Part of the problem was language related-most of the ACO's 7,500 patients in the southern Texas border town speak English as a second language. But a bigger challenge was the intimidation patients felt when they were meeting a doctor in the clinic was limiting their understanding of their health and how to improve or maintain it. Continue Reading


11.09 Time to Learn

Friday, November 9th, 2018 | MICHAEL BARBER

My older son is a second-grade student at our neighborhood elementary school in Chicago. Next year, his younger brother will turn old enough to follow him through the doors of the same old, worn-out looking, brick building. I’m actually happy about this. I’ve come to realize there are aspects to schools that are superficial, such as the color of the paint on the walls or having the newest model of machines in the computer lab. There are other things that really matter.

Focusing on what matters

A central commitment to equity and helping all kids learn are among the things that make a school a good place to be. Related to this, I would include ongoing efforts to nurture and repair -- when necessary -- a welcoming and inclusive environment where teachers, administrators, students and families cultivate trust in one another. Of course, any school that aspires to maintain the public’s confidence and be worthy of our trust will need lots of good books, space for children to play, and teachers who have both real credentials and caring ways of relating to kids. Perhaps most of all, I would include time to think, to create and to share. Our neighborhood public school doesn’t look new or fancy (because it’s neither of these), but this doesn’t prevent its leadership team and teachers from focusing on what really matters. Students need time to learn and their teachers do too.

Working together to get better

At our school, the teachers have been meeting with some frequency in inquiry groups, with each comprised of just a few staff. They are using time—a precious resource in schools—to learn together how to get better. Every month for 90 minutes, each inquiry group meets to continue its exploration of the same area of teaching and learning. One group is inquiring about project-based instruction, another group about supporting the development of students’ social and emotional competencies, and yet another about integrating the fine and performing arts across the curriculum. These are just three of the ten inquiry groups underway. During these exploration meetings, school leaders and teachers with particular expertise share their experience, knowledge, and skill with their colleagues to explore important questions and help coordinate and improve instruction across the school. This kind of collaborative effort is not the norm in most schools, not because most schools could not do it or that most teachers wouldn’t want to do it, but because we haven’t made schools places where it’s a priority for teachers to work and learn together. However, a growing body of evidence shows that in schools where teachers get together to collaborate, student achievement is higher and teacher retention is better.

Creative time-making

It isn’t always easy for the teachers at my son’s school to get together in their inquiry groups or to collaborate for other purposes. In a creative and successful attempt to make time last spring, the school administration and parents partnered to chaperone different grade-level groups of students on field trips over the course of several days. They were able to provide not only a novel learning experience for students, but also time for teachers to get together to co-design and align meaningful performance assessments with curriculum units. Professionals need time together, to do work together.

Making time regular and frequent

Considering parents can’t always be available to volunteer for entire school days and kids likely won’t be taking field trips with a lot of frequency, schools need to find regular and realistic ways for teachers to find time to collaborate. While the challenges facing schools are embedded in social and economic contexts that can make for great difficulties, schools should nonetheless be places where teachers can organize effectively to solve certain problems together that they can’t solve separately. Like other complex organizations, schools aren’t going to make much progress on the tough challenges they can address if teachers aren’t engaging in joint problem-solving work together. Like other professionals, teachers aren’t going to improve much if they are always working in isolation. Teachers need to talk with other adults about their students, their instruction, and both their needs and ideas for improvement. If we make time for teachers to work in the company of knowledgeable colleagues, they can develop their tools to enact ambitious instruction on a range of topics across subject areas. If teachers have genuine and ongoing learning opportunities, they can improve opportunities for student learning. To do this, they need time. I hope we can find ways for all schools to make more time for teachers to learn together. Without that time, I don’t see how we can make schools places where all our kids will learn from teachers who are continuing to get better at the things that really matter.

Michael Barber is a parent of a student at Ravenswood Elementary School in Chicago and an associate program officer at the Spencer Foundation.


10.23 What Rural America Can Teach Us about Civil Society

Tuesday, October 23rd, 2018 | John Stephans

When one thinks about “community engagement” or “public participation” the image is often of a neighborhood meeting, or a public hearing. Implicitly, the background setting is a town or city.

I’m glad to highlight analysis by Allen Smart and Betsey Russell about What Rural America Can Teach Us about Civil Society.

Allen is leading a project at Campbell University to identify, align, and energize effective rural philanthropy around the country. Betsey is a philanthropy writer and researcher, currently developing a series of case studies about successful rural funding approaches.

Smart and Russell focus on dispelling stereotypes of rural America.

There is a popular, longstanding perception (among urban folk) that rural America is somehow separate from the rest of us…. Seen either as one large, poorly educated and impoverished backwater (a rural dystopia as in the film Deliverance), or a self-segregated, agrarian utopia…. (À la the sitcom “Green Acres”). Post 2016, another frame has emerged: that of rural America as an angry white mob that votes counter to its own interests.

Their nice metaphor is of a magic flying carpet:

We believe civil society exists when people who live in a defined geographic proximity work cooperatively—even when they strongly disagree with or dislike one another—to sustain mutually beneficial conditions. Think of civil society as a magic flying carpet that, to hold a community aloft, must contain many different fibers.

Five lessons are derived from their experience with rural community engagement and philanthropy. Two highlights:

Civil society is rooted in actions, not words.

…while some urban researchers, thinkers, and pundits may spend time developing and analyzing theories about civil society, people in rural communities are spending time imagining and incubating the “real-world” conversations, partnerships, mutual understandings, and trust necessary to create it.

Civil society can become a bastion of the privileged.

In many cases, civil society in rural communities has been controlled by a few, much to the detriment of the whole…. Those in power are quick to serve on boards, run for office, donate to local organizations, and speak their minds. While this may ensure some consistency in leadership for civil society, the downside is that this small group of people ultimately control the community….Fortunately, rural communities can change this dynamic to foster civil society.

To find out about the other three lessons, here’s their August 2018 post. which is part of a partnership between and the nonprofit group Independent Sector called the Civil Society for the 21st Century series.

This blog was originally posted on Community Engagement Learning Exchangement -- a University of North Carolina School of Government blog.


10.12 ENGAGING IDEAS - 10/12/2018

Friday, October 12th, 2018 | PUBLIC AGENDA


Estranged in America: Both Sides Feel Lost and Left Out (The Upshot)
Nearly half of Democrats say they feel this way, slightly more than Republicans. Continue Reading

Could populism actually be good for democracy? (The Guardian)
A wave of populist revolts has led many to lose faith in the wisdom of people power. But such eruptions are essential to the vitality of modern politics. Continue Reading

Elections: Understanding democracy in a divided America (Stanford News)
A divided electorate and intense partisanship have led to a tense public mood where feelings of polarization run deep. People are now more attached to their party affiliation than any other social identifier - like race and religion - according to Stanford scholar Shanto Iyengar. He argues that this only amplifies polarization further. Continue Reading


This Map Shows Income Inequality in Every American Metro Area (
Wealth and income inequality are growing areas of concern. A report from Oxfam found that 82% of all wealth created throughout the world in 2017 went to the top 1%. 8 individuals literally own as much money as 3.8 billion people. It's hard to grasp what these numbers really mean, so let's reframe the issue at the local level. How bad is income inequality where you live? Continue Reading

Poverty, Perseverance and a PhD (Hechinger Report)
An elite university helped her climb but changing class can be a lonely journey. Continue Reading

Is Your State Serving Black Students? (Inside Higher Ed)
New report from the University of Southern California's Race and Equity Center grades public institutions across the country. Continue Reading


Austin Ranks High In Voter Turnout In New Civil Health Checkup (
Residents in the Greater Austin area ranked high in voter turnout and knowledge of key issues, but have lent less of a helping hand, according to the 2018 Greater Austin Civic Health Index. Continue Reading

Bringing the e-commerce experience to civic engagement (eGov Innovation)
Boosting digital citizen interaction does not have to be complicated. Powered by the right technology and streamlined processes, both citizens and government entities benefit from a smarter approach to interactions. Continue Reading

PA Mention - Montana vote becomes a national referendum on public confidence in higher ed (Hechinger Report)
Fifty-eight percent of people polled by the think tank New America said colleges and universities put their own interests ahead of those of students. About the same proportion in a Public Agenda survey said colleges care mostly about the bottom line, and 44 percent said they're wasteful and inefficient. Continue Reading


In These Districts, Friday Is Not a School Day (Wall Street Journal)
For most students here, the weekend starts when the final bells ring on Thursday afternoons. Pueblo City Schools, in southern Colorado, this year joined a growing number of school districts hoping to save costs and attract teachers by shifting to a four-day week, a schedule once primarily used by rural districts that is now moving into suburban and urban areas. Continue Reading

Enrollment instability is a major reason why schools are struggling - so why isn't anyone tracking the problem? (Chalkbeat)
There's no question that Detroit schools are struggling with the serious consequences of students coming and going throughout the school year. What's less clear is how the problem compares to other cities and states. That's because no one is keeping close track nationally of these frequent school moves, known by academics as student mobility or enrollment instability. Continue Reading

You thought failing PE or art in high school doesn't matter? Not so, new Chicago study says. (Chalkbeat)
Failing a class like art or PE in the freshman year could be just as damaging to a student's chance of graduating as failing English, math or science, a newly released study of Chicago schools has found. Continue Reading

Higher Ed/Workforce

At a growing number of colleges, faculty get a new role: spotting troubled students (Hechinger Report)
For many faculty, this new role requires a culture shift. Some still don't consider it their job, said Patricia Rieman, an associate professor of education at Carthage who is an advocate for, and was on the subcommittee that created, that school's early-alert system. "I'm not somebody's mother,'" she said some faculty have carped. "A lot of professors also don't feel they have time. We're expected to do more and more, without additional compensation." Continue Reading

The Secrets of Getting Into Harvard Were Once Closely Guarded. That's About to Change (Wall Street Journal)
This year, 42,749 students applied to Harvard College, and only 1,962 were admitted. How Harvard decides who makes the cut has long been a mystery. That's about to change. A trial beginning Monday in Boston federal court will examine how the elite institution uses race to shape its student body. It will force Harvard to spill details about its admissions practices. Continue Reading

The Little College Where Tuition Is Free and Every Student Is Given a Job (The Atlantic)
Berea College, in Kentucky, has paid for every enrollee's education using its endowment for 126 years. Can other schools replicate the model? Continue Reading

PA Mention - Students, employees scour college finances for waste, proof of unfair pay (Hechinger Report)
As public confidence declines, university budgets and investments face growing scrutiny. Continue Reading

Health Care

Providers are going digital to meet increased demand (Modern Healthcare)
As the U.S. population ages and develops chronic diseases more frequently, provider organizations are turning to digital tools to meet increased demand for healthcare, according to a new report from Ernst & Young. Continue Reading

CVS and Aetna merger a disruptive sign of the future (Healthcare Finance)
Two provider organizations have reacted negatively to Wednesday's announcement by the Department of Justice to allow the merger between CVS Health and Aetna contingent upon Aetna divesting of its Medicare Part D prescription drug plans. Continue Reading

Healthcare prices growing slowly: 4 findings (Becker's Hospital Review)
Healthcare prices in the U.S. showed low growth in the first half of 2018, according to an analysis from nonprofit health systems research and consulting organization Altarum. Continue Reading


10.05 ENGAGING IDEAS - 10/05/2018

Friday, October 5th, 2018 | PUBLIC AGENDA


Russia, the internet and "political technologists" - is this the future of democracy? (Open Democracy)
As more revelations emerge about Russian interference in Western democracies, Nick Inman reviews a BBC broadcast that asks if Russia is merely where 21st century ideas of democracy died first. Continue Reading

'Can Democracy Work?' considers the perils and pitfalls of the institution across time (Christian Science Monitor)
Author and academic James Miller examines the idea of democracy in five distinct moments throughout human history, and chronicles how vastly different each iteration has been. Continue Reading

Democracy and the Internet (New York Times)
An expert discusses the continuing battle with tech companies to safeguard our institutions. Continue Reading



Union Membership Narrows the Racial Wealth Gap for Families of Color (Center for American Progress)
The data suggest that nonwhite union members receive a particular boost in their wealth because they see larger increases in pay, benefits, and employment stability than white union members. Continue Reading

Detailed New National Maps Show How Neighborhoods Shape Children for Life (The Upshot)
Some places lift children out of poverty. Others trap them there. Now cities are trying to do something about the difference. Continue Reading

The Most Important Least-Noticed Economic Event of the Decade (The Upshot)
A localized recession in manufacturing-heavy areas can explain a lot of things. Continue Reading


Managing Digital Change: Playing The Long Game For Participatory Democracy (Forbes)
At a time when social platforms are increasingly under scrutiny-censoring "fake news," deciding who has access to their tools for what purpose, determining if and where to draw boundaries around free speech-tech companies are reluctantly playing a role in defining "right" versus "wrong" for billions of people every day. Continue Reading

Promotion Standards and Public Engagement (Inside Higher Education)
A new study examined in Nature says that university guidelines on tenure and promotion still focus on publication metrics, rather than professed values such as public engagement. Continue Reading

What's New in Civic Tech: Long Beach, Calif., Establishes Office of Civic Innovation (Government Technology)
Long Beach, Calif., has established a new office of civic innovation within its city manager's office, according to a press release from the city. Technologists in the office will serve as in-house consultants to other departments, with a goal of co-creating effective approaches to pressing community issues. Continue Reading


11 charter schools get permission to open in New York, bringing the city closer to the legal limit (Chalkbeat)
Nearly a dozen new charter schools have gotten the green light to open in New York in the next three years, bringing the city closer to a looming limit on charters that has advocates fretting. The SUNY Charter Schools Institute, one of two entities able to approve new charter schools for the state, signed off on 11 applications during a meeting in Albany Thursday. All of the schools aim to open in the Bronx or Brooklyn, and while several would be part of existing school networks, others would be the first for their operators. Continue Reading

Working in a group might be the best way to help kids meet individual goals, study says (Hechinger Report)
A new study out by the American Institutes for Research (AIR), a nonprofit research firm, makes the argument that collaborative, group learning might actually serve each student's individual academic needs quite well. Continue Reading

Does Teacher Diversity Matter in Student Learning?

(New York Times)
Research shows that students, especially boys, benefit when teachers share their race or gender. Yet most teachers are white women. Continue Reading

Higher Ed/Workforce

At Elite Colleges, Racial Diversity Requires Affirmative Action (New York Times)
Getting more low-income students into elite colleges like Harvard and Stanford is an important goal. But it can't replace race-based affirmative action. Continue Reading

Boston judge permits lawsuit against Harvard to go forward (Christian Science Monitor)
In a closely watched case that could influence affirmative action practices in college admissions decisions, a federal judge on Friday rejected a motion from Harvard University to rule in its favor. The university faces a lawsuit on the basis of discrimination against Asian-American applicants. The trial is set to begin on Oct. 15. Continue Reading

Education Department will miss deadline on rules affecting students in for-profit colleges (Washington Post)
The Education Department is going to miss a self-imposed deadline to deliver new rules governing how for-profit colleges and universities should deal with their students. But critics of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos say the delay is actually a good thing for students. Continue Reading

Health Care

Congress angles for air ambulance cost transparency (Modern Healthcare)
Last November, a fully insured North Dakotan was dispatched on an 84-mile medical air transport from Langdon, N.D., to Grand Forks. When the charges came in at more than $66,000, out-of-network insurance covered just $16,000.The patient was left with a $50,000 bill balance from Valley Med Flight. Continue Reading

Lawmakers: States need to gather better data about mothers dying in childbirth (Fierce Healthcare)
States are not doing enough to understand what went wrong after mothers die from pregnancy-related complications-a necessary step to figuring out how to stem growing maternal mortality rates in the U.S., experts told lawmakers on Thursday. Continue Reading

New Report Examines Healthcare in the "Amazon Era" (Healthcare Informatics)
Hospital business leaders are open, and even optimistic, about the benefits of innovation from non-traditional healthcare players, such as Amazon and Apple, according to a new report from Captains of Industry, a marketing consultancy. Continue Reading


10.01 Working Together to Advance Student and Teacher Success

Monday, October 1st, 2018 | VANIA ANDRE

With the school year in full swing, teachers, administrators and education leaders are once again fully entrenched in the day- to-day workings of ensuring students are receiving the skills and information they need to succeed. However, despite this earnest effort on their part, many teachers find themselves working in isolation, apart from other teachers, which ironically enough doesn’t maximize the likelihood that their efforts will be effective.

A growing body of research shows that when teachers work more collaboratively, student outcomes can improve, teachers can be more satisfied in their jobs and teacher turnover can decrease. Teacher Collaboration In Perspective, a joint project of Public Agenda and the Spencer Foundation, is designed to contribute to a better-informed dialogue about how teachers can work more collaboratively.

With more and more attention placed on teacher productivity from parents, government officials and other big name funders, including Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, it’s becoming increasingly clear that this “egg crate” model -- a compartmentalized and isolated working environment -- is not optimal for student or teacher success. While collaboration is routine in professions such as scientific research, health care, architecture and the performing arts, most schools are not structured so that teachers can learn from one another, coordinate lessons, discuss data or share ideas.

Fostering collaboration among teachers requires changing how schools and teachers’ work are organized. When schools are organized like egg crates, important information about the challenges that teachers encounter, the problems that puzzle them, and the expertise they might offer their peers remains limited by the confines of the classroom. Working together may make it easier for teachers to identify and address problems in students’ progress, share information about individual students from grade to grade or develop curricula and approaches to teaching that are consistent and coherent across grades and subject areas. Schools that are more collaborative have been shown to have stronger student academic outcomes than schools that are less collaborative. Studies have found that:

Overall, the goal is to ensure success for both students and teachers alike. The first step to guaranteeing this success, however, is a dialogue, where the needs and challenges of teachers are addressed and talked through so that important lessons can be gleaned from these conversations and, in turn, put into action. To learn how you can contribute to a better dialogue around student and teacher success visit to access a suite of materials designed to facilitate effective conversations on teacher collaboration. Also, sign up for email updates for more information on teacher collaboration and other topics critical to increasing student success.


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


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