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10.03 Any Progress Is Better Than None

Tuesday, October 3rd, 2017 | WILL FRIEDMAN, PH.D.



Once again, we sit bowed in tragic disbelief at the senseless slaughter that our fellow Americans regularly visit upon one another. Once again, against the hard wall of partisan dysfunction we hurl soft platitudes and hope things will change.

Yes, there are passionate, valid disagreements and real interests at stake. True, there are no magic answers, every one imaginable will be imperfect. But even incremental progress can save a teen’s life who, just before the bullets riddled her body, was taking in her first concert and feeling the world open before her.

At Public Agenda, our business is to understand, inform, engage and represent the public, among whom there is considerable common ground across partisan lines - obscured though it is by the posturing of politicians and interest groups - for common sense measures that would make it harder for dangerous people to get guns and easier for the mentally ill to receive treatment.

Enacting these points of agreement won't be easy, nor will it solve the entire problem. But with bold leadership, public support can become public will and lead to change. Rather than sit idle while things deteriorate, we should take the pragmatic steps in front of us and then figure things out from there.

Comment

09.29 Engaging Ideas - 9/29/2017

Friday, September 29th, 2017 | PUBLIC AGENDA




Democracy

Fury fuels the modern political climate in US (The Hill)
There have been plenty of times in the nation’s 240-year history in which an evolving economy has produced anxiety. But this time was different.

American Democracy Is Drowning in Money (New York Times)
The tide of money swelling around the American political system continues to rise. In 2016, candidates running for federal office spent a record $6.4 billion on their campaigns, while lobbyists spent $3.15 billion to influence the government in Washington. Both sums are twice that of 2000 levels.

Why Competition in the Politics Industry is Failing America (Harvard Business School)
Too many people are laboring under a misimpression that our political problems are inevitable, or the result of a weakening of the parties, or due to the parties’ ideological incoherence, or because of an increasingly polarized American public. Those who focus on these reasons are looking in the wrong places.


Opportunity/Inequality

American Dream, American Myth: The Decline Of Upward Mobility (KUNC)
For some Americans, it’s become more unlikely that they will out-earn their parents the way their parents out-earned the previous generation. Multiple studies show that while moving up is still possible, it’s either becoming more difficult or it’s harder in the United States than in other countries.

When Prosperity Leads to Disaffection (Foreign Affairs)
The conundrum of broad disaffection in the face of apparent prosperity is by no means limited to American politics. Thousands of miles from Washington, we tested a related hypothesis in rural Pakistan.


Engagement

The Rise of Public-Sector Crowdfunding (Citylab)
Around the country, local governments are soliciting donations for everything from dog parks to public defenders. Is this a practical response to budget cuts or a sign that publicly funded services are in trouble?

Leading Mayors Join Cities of Service Mayors Council to Accelerate Citizen Engagement (Business Insider)
Cities of Service, a national nonprofit that helps more than 200 mayors and city leaders tap into the knowledge, creativity, and service of citizens to solve public problems and create vibrant cities, has launched the Cities of Service Mayors Council.


K12

The Evidence Base for How We Learn: Supporting Students’ Social, Emotional, and Academic Development (Aspen Institute)
Compelling research demonstrates what parents have always known—the success of young people in school and beyond is inextricably linked to healthy social and emotional development.

Wisconsin's schools seek to shorten the workforce pipeline (Wisconsin State Journal)
At Patrick Marsh Middle School in Sun Prairie last week, school counselor Tiffany Kvalheim opened a lesson about academic and career planning with a question. “Why are we talking about careers in seventh grade?” Kvalheim asked.


Higher Ed/Workforce

Colleges need to do more to help students transfer credits, GAO says (Washington Post)
Students lose nearly half of the college credits they earn transferring from one school to another, placing them at risk of exhausting federal grants and loans to repeat courses, according to a report released by the Government Accountability Office Wednesday.

The Department Of Education Cuts Off A Student Loan Watchdog (NPR)
This move leaves 44 million student loan borrowers, owing $1.4 trillion in debt, with potentially less, or at least less-coordinated, oversight of their rights.


Health Care

“The Internet hates secrets”: Clear Health Costs works with newsrooms to bring healthcare costs out of hiding (Nieman Lab)
When New Orleans’ WVUE Fox 8 News invited viewers to get in touch and share their healthcare costs, they weren’t sure what kind of response they’d receive.

Online physician ratings don't reflect quality of care (Modern Healthcare)
Although patients commonly use online physician-rating sites to help select a provider and get a sense for their quality of a care, a new study suggests those tools don't accurately demonstrate physicians' clinical performance.

Comment

09.22 Engaging Ideas - 9/22/2017

Friday, September 22nd, 2017 | PUBLIC AGENDA




Democracy

Fury fuels the modern political climate in US (The Hill)
There have been plenty of times in the nation’s 240-year history in which an evolving economy has produced anxiety. But this time was different.

Facebook Knows More About Russia’s Election Meddling. Shouldn’t We? (New York Times)
Facebook says it is working to prevent a repeat. And it was hardly the only platform that Russia is presumed to have used to disrupt the political debate in America; there were others in the mix as well, particularly Twitter, which has divulged even less than Facebook has. But, in total, there’s a stunning lack of public specificity about an alleged foreign campaign to influence our domestic politics.

Why Competition in the Politics Industry is Failing America (Harvard Business School)
Too many people are laboring under a misimpression that our political problems are inevitable, or the result of a weakening of the parties, or due to the parties’ ideological incoherence, or because of an increasingly polarized American public. Those who focus on these reasons are looking in the wrong places.


Opportunity/Inequality

American Dream, American Myth: The Decline Of Upward Mobility (KUNC)
For some Americans, it’s become more unlikely that they will out-earn their parents the way their parents out-earned the previous generation. Multiple studies show that while moving up is still possible, it’s either becoming more difficult or it’s harder in the United States than in other countries.

When Prosperity Leads to Disaffection (Foreign Affairs)
The conundrum of broad disaffection in the face of apparent prosperity is by no means limited to American politics. Thousands of miles from Washington, we tested a related hypothesis in rural Pakistan.


Engagement

The Rise of Public-Sector Crowdfunding (Citylab)
Around the country, local governments are soliciting donations for everything from dog parks to public defenders. Is this a practical response to budget cuts or a sign that publicly funded services are in trouble?

Leading Mayors Join Cities of Service Mayors Council to Accelerate Citizen Engagement (Business Insider)
Cities of Service, a national nonprofit that helps more than 200 mayors and city leaders tap into the knowledge, creativity, and service of citizens to solve public problems and create vibrant cities, has launched the Cities of Service Mayors Council.


K12

The Evidence Base for How We Learn: Supporting Students’ Social, Emotional, and Academic Development (Aspen Institute)
Compelling research demonstrates what parents have always known—the success of young people in school and beyond is inextricably linked to healthy social and emotional development.

Wisconsin's schools seek to shorten the workforce pipeline (Wisconsin State Journal)
At Patrick Marsh Middle School in Sun Prairie last week, school counselor Tiffany Kvalheim opened a lesson about academic and career planning with a question. “Why are we talking about careers in seventh grade?” Kvalheim asked.


Higher Ed/Workforce

Colleges need to do more to help students transfer credits, GAO says (Washington Post)
Students lose nearly half of the college credits they earn transferring from one school to another, placing them at risk of exhausting federal grants and loans to repeat courses, according to a report released by the Government Accountability Office Wednesday.

The Department Of Education Cuts Off A Student Loan Watchdog (NPR)
This move leaves 44 million student loan borrowers, owing $1.4 trillion in debt, with potentially less, or at least less-coordinated, oversight of their rights.


Health Care

“The Internet hates secrets”: Clear Health Costs works with newsrooms to bring healthcare costs out of hiding (Nieman Lab)
When New Orleans’ WVUE Fox 8 News invited viewers to get in touch and share their healthcare costs, they weren’t sure what kind of response they’d receive.

Comment

09.21 An Amazing Learning Environment for Students and a Great Workplace for Educators

Thursday, September 21st, 2017 | Chloe Rinehart



I was lucky enough to go to a private school for kindergarten through eighth grade, where the educational philosophy was grounded in community, cooperation and collaboration.

When my school was established in the 1970s in Virginia, the founders literally named it the “new” school, because its model challenged the status quo of the educational system at the time. Instead of structuring the administration as top down, with decision-making power concentrated in the hands of the principal, this school envisioned one where teachers, together with parents, shared in decision making.

Instead of teachers working alone in their classrooms, largely isolated from their colleagues, this school envisioned teachers collaborating closely on curriculum, school policies and procedures, and coordinating classroom schedules to allow space for students who were learning about different subjects at varying levels.

What resulted was, in my opinion, an amazing learning environment for students and a great workplace for teachers, many of whom stayed on to work there for a decade or more.

This collaborative structure was “new” back then, but still today, we find ourselves in an educational landscape where K-12 education is largely dominated by the individualistic model. Even while other sectors are valuing and incorporating collaboration more frequently into their work and operations, we don’t see this type of collaboration happening in our schools very often.

However, there is indication that the K-12 system might increasingly consider reforms in this area. 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.

Public Agenda, in partnership with the Spencer Foundation, is supporting this development in K-12 education through the second installment of our In Perspective web resource series. Like our first on charter schools, our Teacher Collaboration site offers materials that can not only lead to a better-informed conversation on an important education issue, but can result in significant and scalable change.

The Guide to Research on teacher collaboration provides a nonpartisan, nonideological and easily digestible summary of key research on teacher collaboration, including studies that are typically accessible only to academics. The Discussion Guide can help teachers and education leaders make decisions on how to work more collaboratively in their own schools and districts. Critical Questions for Superintendents and School Board Members allows for leaders at the school and district level to examine their own teacher collaboration efforts.

Pursuing policies and encouraging dialogues that allow for increased collaboration among teachers, and between educators and school leadership, are alone not going to solve the problems facing our education system. Indeed, key questions about collaboration remain unanswered. But teachers, leaders and school districts can benefit from an environment that allows for greater collaboration, which is ultimately a win for students too.

Comment (3)

09.15 Engaging Ideas - 9/15/2017

Friday, September 15th, 2017 | PUBLIC AGENDA




Democracy

'Amnesty' fight threatens pursuit of immigration deal (The Hill)
A path to citizenship for “Dreamers” is emerging as the biggest sticking point in the negotiations over an immigration bill, one day after President Trump and Democratic leaders seemed close to a deal.

Why now is such a strange era in American political history (Vox)
The juxtaposition of broadly competitive national elections plus broadly non-competitive state elections is really unusual. And really dangerous.


Opportunity/Inequality

Statistics reveals new, more precise insight into upward mobility between generations (phys.org)
As political rhetoric containing promises of education, social opportunities and other development for disadvantaged people continues to fill the airwaves, economics researchers have developed state-of-the-art statistical methods that uncover the impact of different aspects of upward mobility (or lack thereof), aside from parental income.

This is what happens when Americans are told about rising inequality (Washington Post)
The sharp growth in economic inequality — and its visibility as an issue in both the 2012 and 2016 American political campaigns — has led to an important debate about how to respond.


Engagement

Boosting Civic Trust (And Democracy) With A Location-Based Mapping Platform (Forbes)
Local governments need a lot of solid data about their citizens' concerns to make good decisions. For example,  if you're a municipality--or anyone considering, say, a development project--it's kind of important to know how residents living in the affected neighborhoods feel about your plans.

What’s New in Civic Tech: SF Mayor Encourages Cities Nationwide to Apply for Expanded Startup in Residence Program (Government Technology)
San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee took to the blogosphere this week with some advice for city governments across the country: Apply for the Startup in Residence (STiR) program, which embeds fledgling technology companies in municipal agencies to help bridge the gap between public service and the private sector.


K-12 Education

Certification rules and tests are keeping would-be teachers of color out of America’s classrooms. Here’s how. (Chalkbeat)
Becoming a certified teacher in America usually means navigating a maze of university classes and certification tests — and paying for them.The goal is a high-quality teaching force, and an array of powerful advocates have been pushing to “raise the bar” further. But the rules likely come with a hefty cost: a less diverse profession.

Where Ed Tech Works — and Fails (Real Clear Education)
Thousands of dollars spent outfitting a classroom with laptops might not improve student grades, while a simple series of text messages could inspire a student to attend college.


Higher Ed/Workforce

Half of US millennials would give up right vote to wipe out their student loans (The Independent)
Half of all millennials in the US would give up their right to vote in order to get rid of their student loan, new research has found.

College textbooks are going the way of Netflix (Quartz)
The new software benefits professors by tracking how far students read, how long they spend on each page, how well they absorb the material—so rather than handing out syllabi to tell students what to read or skim in various books, professors can tweak the software to only include topics of crucial interest.


Health Care

Achieving transparency in healthcare (Modern Healthcare)
Pressure is mounting to make healthcare prices available to patients, but there are significant hurdles to doing so.

I’m the perfect person to price shop for an operation. But the process went terribly (STAT)
Encouraging patients to price shop for their health care is one reason employers are switching to high-deductible plans. The theory is that patients will compare prices across different doctors or hospitals and choose the lower-priced one, thereby saving themselves (and their employer) money. But in order to shop, you need to be able to see what something costs beforehand.

Good Data, Better Value-Based Care Can Boost Population Health (RevCycle Intelligence)
Timely data is key to reducing the costs of a hospital’s most expensive high-risk patients, while value-based contracts sustain the population health management efforts.

Comment

09.14 Remembering Dan Yankelovich

Thursday, September 14th, 2017 | WILL FRIEDMAN, PH.D.



Dan Yankelovich, co-founder of Public Agenda, has passed after almost 93 years. His life brimmed with intellectual adventure, real-world accomplishment and service to the nation. A great American, he never stopped working for a better democracy and his seminal contributions mark a way forward beyond the wayward path on which we now find ourselves as a nation.

I have known Dan for almost 25 years and he meant a tremendous amount to me, as he has to all the Public Agenda veterans who had the opportunity to get to know him. I've never met anyone with such penetrating insights into the big problems and patterns of the times and who was so generative of pragmatic and wise ideas and solutions.

A classic example of Dan’s mind at work was his trenchant response to Robert McNamara’s belief that he could quantify success in Vietnam through body counts. Dan dissected this thinking as only he could. “The first step,” he wrote, “is to measure whatever can be easily measured. This is OK as far as it goes.” Then he goes on:

The second step is to disregard that which can't be easily measured or to give it an arbitrary quantitative value. This is artificial and misleading. The third step is to presume that what can't be measured easily really isn't important. This is blindness. The fourth step is to say that what can't be easily measured really doesn't exist. This is suicide.


Will Friedman, Daniel Yankelovich, Cyrus Vance Jr.

His many seminal insights have enlightened us on the difference between raw public opinion and wiser public judgment; the stages people go through to achieve the latter; the factors that help or hinder them in doing so; and what all of this means for democracy, public policy, social change, research and leadership.

When visiting him in San Diego, he’d offer something to drink, cookies and a sun hat from a collection that had built up over the years. You’d settle into a chair on the peaceful patio behind his house and ideas would pour forth in his gentle Boston accent, remnant of the poor Dorchester kid he once was. He’d discuss under-appreciated trends, wrong-headed solutions, unseen business opportunities or his latest project (“You’re writing another book?”).

Dan worked steadily, even relentlessly, to put his ideas into practice throughout his highly-productive life. He led numerous landmark studies, authored 13 books, advised presidents and founded or cofounded numerous enterprises. I am proud and humbled that in his last book, Wicked Problems, Workable Solutions, published in 2014, he wrote:

Founding the Public Agenda has come to hold a special meaning for me. [It] is dedicated to making our democracy work better through engaging the public in the truly important issues of the times...To my mind, the Public Agenda is just the kind of institution the nation needs to reboot our democracy.

In that same book he also wrote:

It takes more than just voting to make democracy work. It takes a responsible, thoughtful public voice. All Americans should be conscious of how precious—and fragile—our democracy is. Participating in making it a more just and effective problem-solving institution is a privilege, and ought to be a source of immense personal satisfaction.

It is indeed a privilege to work for a more just and effective democracy, and our own special privilege at Public Agenda to build on Dan's fruitful ideas. For us and so many others it is a sad moment, but also one to celebrate a brilliant life. Then it will be time to get back to work, for there is much to do.



Comment

09.14 How do you improve diabetes care? Ask a patient.

Thursday, September 14th, 2017 | Danielle Sang



Diabetes is a major public health problem in America, one that affects nearly 10 percent of the population or about 20 million people. This is one of several reasons Public Agenda chose diabetes, specifically type 2, as one of the three particular care situations to examine in new research that looks at how people think about high-quality care.

Diabetes requires constant care. Self-management and a sustained relationship with a medical professional to monitor symptoms and complications are the ideal standard care procedures. But one has to ask themselves: What are the qualities diabetes care patients look for in their doctor? Do they prioritize certain qualities over others? Are patients receiving the care and information they need to adequately manage their health situation?

We set out to explore these among other questions in our research. When it comes to assessing high-quality care, we found research participants in the diabetes group valued doctors’ interpersonal skills over clinical qualities.

This finding becomes even more relevant when you consider the fact that effective management of diabetes requires sustained care with a medical provider. This may suggest that interpersonal skills from a medical provider is critical to proper diabetes care. Without this, rates of negative health outcomes such as heart attacks, strokes, kidney disease, and eye and nerve damage, can increase. This is especially true for black, Hispanic and lower-income people, who tend to have higher rates of complications.

Along with health costs on patients, diabetes also has a high monetary cost. In 2012, the United States spent $176 billion on diabetes. Given the high costs associated with diabetes care, it’s important to note that our research found 31 percent of participants in the diabetes group were unaware doctors’ prices for care vary, while even more were unsure.

A Health Affairs study on price found patients who chose low-price physicians also gained savings in the long term on other medical services, such as lab tests, and had less annual out-of-pocket spending. With its high financial implications, even for those with employer-sponsored insurance, it may be helpful for diabetes patients to know how much one doctor charges for the same services versus another, in addition to weighing interpersonal qualities. Having knowledge on price variance may also be helpful in controlling costs, especially since our research found that, in the diabetes group, most say high prices are not a sign of better-quality care.

Type 2 diabetes affects approximately 9.3 percent of Americans. Blacks, Hispanics, Native Americans and those with less education are disproportionately affected at a rate of 13 percent. Diabetes affects all demographics and will continue to be an issue if not addressed and managed properly. Due to its chronic nature, self-care and working with a trusted provider are key elements for managing diabetes. As our research has found, while a high price may not be seen by those in the diabetes group as the equivalent of high-quality care, the answer to what is may lie in the hands of physicians. With the ability and knowledge to provide guidance on self-management, by referring patients to supplemental care managers such as lifestyle coaches or Certified Diabetes Educators, and by being a listening ear to medical concerns, health care providers may be the answer, in more ways than one, to improving high-quality care for diabetes patients.

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09.08 Engaging Ideas - 9/8/2017

Friday, September 8th, 2017 | PUBLIC AGENDA




Democracy

Immigration reform: Could opposing sides compromise? (The Mercury News)
Santos Aviles, who as a teenager illegally immigrated from El Salvador to the United States, has found it surprising how many conservatives have been open to his suggestions on reforming the country’s tattered immigration laws..

We need political parties. But their rabid partisanship could destroy American democracy (Vox)
We need partisan conflict to organize politics. Without political parties, there is no meaningful democracy. But we are deep into a self-reinforcing cycle of doom-loop partisanship. We need to think hard about how to escape this trap, before it is too late.


Engagement

Metro Nashville should embrace participatory budgeting (Tennessean)
Over a year ago, a Nashville resident met with his local councilman, Fabian Bedne of District 31, to share his thoughts about what a democratic-driven budgetary process could look like for the folks in Nashville. This would help address urban issues, ranging from transportation and public safety to affordable housing and beautification projects.

What Technologies Do Cities Use for Citizen Engagement? (Government Technology)
The civic engagement process has come a long way from bulletin boards and town hall meetings. Or rather, it’s added a lot of technology on top of bulletin boards and town hall meetings.


Opportunity/Inequality

To Understand Rising Inequality, Consider the Janitors at Two Top Companies, Then and Now (The Upshot)
In the 35 years between their jobs as janitors, corporations across America have flocked to a new management theory: Focus on core competence and outsource the rest. The approach has made companies more nimble and more productive, and delivered huge profits for shareholders. It has also fueled inequality and helps explain why many working-class Americans are struggling even in an ostensibly healthy economy.

What city bus systems can tell us about race, poverty and us (Washington Post)
For many in Baltimore, buses are woven deep into daily life. And they also tell an important story about the city and its history, rooted in racial and economic divides that have shaped the course of its development over the decades.


K12

Charter Schools Are Losing the Narrative But Winning the Data (New York Magazine)
The most striking thing about the coverage of charter schools is the contrast between the tone of data journalism and narrative journalism.

New York City unveils universal free lunch in time for the first day of school (Chalkbeat)
After years of lobbying from City Council members and school nutrition advocates, New York City will offer free lunch to all public school students regardless of their families’ income — a change the city expects will result in fewer students missing out on lunch.


Higher Education & Workforce Development

Preparing the Workers of Today for the Labor Needs of Tomorrow (WNYC)
Starting at 14:45, Alison Kadlec talks about job skills and how community colleges and regional universities are working to address the needs of today's students.

Many L.A. students get to college; only a few finish (Los Angeles Times)
A new study has put an exclamation point on a problem that Los Angeles Unified School District officials already acknowledge: too few of their graduates — about one in four — are earning college degrees.


Healthcare

If prices are kept hidden, consumers can’t take more responsibility for their health care costs (Stat News)
My father had no idea how much my mother’s treatment would cost, how much of it would be covered by insurance, if there were alternative treatments that would be covered, or how we would pay for treatments that weren’t covered. Forget about negotiating — how could he negotiate about something whose price he didn’t know?

As large hospital systems buy up independent medical practices, the cost of health care rises (Marketplace)
Northern California, where Azad works, is the most expensive place in the country to have a baby, according to a study by Castlight Health, a San Francisco-based health benefits platform. One important reason is the kind of consolidation that Azad has witnessed over the past decade. The region is dominated by a few large hospital systems that keep buying up doctor practices

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09.06 Strengthening Collaboration in Districts, Schools and Classrooms

Wednesday, September 6th, 2017 | WILL FRIEDMAN, PH.D.



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

If collaboration is in much-too-short supply these days in our public life, in the workplace it is increasingly prized. This has been true for a while, as found in research, including some of our own, that points to the importance of "soft skills" in the modern workplace which enable people to work productively in teams, amplifying their individual knowledge and skills through their interaction with peers.

One workplace where this has been less obviously true is in our schools, dominated by the classic image of the teacher closing the classroom door and getting down to business with her or his students. But even here, interest in the ways that peer collaboration can strengthen practice is growing.

Public Agenda, in partnership with the Spencer Foundation, is proud to be supporting this cutting-edge development in K-12 education through the second installment of our In Perspective web resource series. Like our first on charter schools, our Teacher Collaboration site informs rather than advocates. Just in time for the new school year, it provides teachers and education leaders with new materials that can help foster a more collaborative environment, which can result in many benefits for students and educators alike.

Working in isolation can only be so effective. With support and a solid structure for collaboration in place, a talented team with a shared set of goals can be more innovative and successful. These resources have the potential to help strengthen that type of system in districts, schools and classrooms, and I encourage you to share them with your friends and colleagues.

Many thanks to the educators across the country for all that you do. Here's to a happy and successful new school year.

Comment

09.01 Engaging Ideas - 9/1/2017

Friday, September 1st, 2017 | PUBLIC AGENDA




Democracy

Voters Are Strongly Divided Over Media’s Role in Dividing Us (Rasmussen Reports)
Voters admit America is a more divided place these days, and Trump supporters overwhelmingly agree with the president that the media is to blame. But Trump opponents just as strongly disagree.

What Would It Take for Democrats and Republicans to Work Together? (The Atlantic)
Bipartisanship most often occurs in moments when one party has deep internal divisions, or when there are strong political incentives to cooperate.

The political lessons Americans should learn from Hurricane Harvey (Washington Post)
We’ve been hearing for years now that we Americans are fixated on our tribal divisions. We have nothing in common anymore, we’re told. The old civic spirit that once so impressed foreign visitors is gone, eroded by echo chambers and social media navel-gazing and geographic self-selection. We’re Balkanized, incapable of talking to each other, hopelessly sliced and diced according to the dictates of identity politics. Now take a look at those pictures from southeast Texas.


Engagement

Town halls are in the spotlight, but are they effective in communicating with lawmakers? (Post-Crescent)
Since the 2016 election, town halls hosted by federal lawmakers, or even citizens looking to question their representatives, have provoked angst and anger nationwide. Now, the state of the traditional town hall — one that is open to the public and not by invitation only, scheduled in advance, and willing to take questions on any topic — is at a crossroads, after a particularly antagonistic election and changes in technology and social media

Boulder council hears citizen group's advice for improving public engagement (CityLab)
After meeting more than 30 times between September and May, a citizen advisory group determined that the local government's process of public engagement is broken to the point that a "culture change" is required.


Opportunity/Inequality

Income Inequality Is Making Rent Even Less Affordable (CityLab)
It’s not news that both income inequality and rents have hit record highs, especially in expensive superstar cities and leading tech hubs. But to what extent do income inequality and rising rents go together?

American Cities Losing the Most Jobs (24/7 Wall St.)
While the United States has experienced years of rapid post-recession economic growth, the recovery has eluded some parts of the country. Approximately 1 in 5 U.S. metro areas lost jobs over the past 12 months, and the number of employed persons has decreased by at least 1% in 25 of the country’s 388 metropolitan areas.


K12

Schools with more students of color are more likely to be shut down — and three other things to know about a big new study (Chalkbeat)
Shutting down schools with low test scores doesn’t help student learning and disproportionately affects students of color, according to one of the largest studies ever of school closures.

How one Chicago high school turned the corner using full-time internships (Hechinger Report)
Real-World Learning gets real: Could the key to school success be spending less time in school?


Higher Education & Workforce Development

The Biggest Misconception About Today’s College Students (New York Times)
You might think the typical college student lives in a state of bliss, spending each day moving among classes, parties and extracurricular activities. But the reality is that an increasingly small population of undergraduates enjoys that kind of life.

Most Americans say K-12 schools have a lot of responsibility in workforce preparation (Pew Research)
As millions of U.S. students start school, and economists and educators grapple with how best to prepare workers for jobs in today’s economy, there is evidence that a majority of Americans look to elementary and secondary schools to provide the building blocks people need for a successful career.


Healthcare

When given the chance, will patients choose cheaper prescription drugs? (Managed Healthcare Executive)
Significant cost savings and changes in drug selection has been linked to reference pricing, which leverages insurer/employer contributions to encourage patients to select cheaper drugs that are as effective as their name-brand counterparts, according to a new study.

Why Patient-Reported Outcomes Data is Key to Healthcare Quality (Health IT Analytics)
Patient-reported outcomes data is at the heart of truly effective value-based care and quality improvement, says the National Quality Forum.

Want Single-Payer? Start Calling It Something Else (Vice)
Progressives are pushing for a new healthcare system. But they need to think about the branding.

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