December 18, 2014


Big Plans for 2015!


This is the last Public Agenda Alert of 2014! We'd like to take the opportunity to thank you for your continued support and wish you a wonderful 2015!


We have a lot of projects and resources that we're very excited to introduce to you in the new year:

  • We're developing, in partnership with the Spencer Foundation, a suite of materials to improve the dialogue about charter schools. These include a guide to research and discussion material to help policymakers and voters make better decisions about charter school policy. We will also have resources to help journalists report on the issue in their communities.
  • In early spring, we'll release survey findings looking at how the general public responds to resources that could help them find information about health care costs. Do they use existing price transparency resources? Do price transparency tools affect the decisions they make about their care? Do these resources save them money or encourage them to become comparative shoppers? This research was funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and more information can be found here.
  • The federal government has charged every state with developing a plan to ensure that all students, including those in under-resourced districts, have access to excellent educators. They must include stakeholder engagement as part of this work. Recognizing that engagement can be tough to envision and actualize, we've developed a Choicework discussion guide to help state policymakers engage educators and administrators on equity in education. This guide was developed through our Everyone at the Table initiative, which helps teachers have a greater voice in education policy.

For more information about any of these projects, or to be alerted when they're ready, email Megan at


We also hope you help support this work 

with a gift to Public Agenda. 


Your donation will help us share these resources with more people and empower them to make progress on the issues that too often leave them divided.


And now you have a new way to give! Late in the night on December 16, the Senate passed a bill extending the IRA Charitable Rollover to December 31, 2014.  President Obama is expected to sign the bill in the coming days.  


The provision allows individuals age 70˝ or older to make tax-free gifts totaling up to $100,000 from a traditional IRA account directly to Public Agenda!  To take advantage of this please contact your IRA provider for exact instructions and please let us know so that we confirm receipt of your gift for you.


Engaging Ideas

A collection of recent stories and reports that sparked consideration on ways to make progress on divisive issues. 

(The Chronicle of Higher Education)
"If we've learned anything over the last 10 years of the completion movement, it's that there's no silver bullet -- no single discrete strategy that will result in the dramatic improvements we're hoping for," said Lara K. Couturier of Jobs for the Future in the report "Policy Meets Pathways."

(New York Times / The Upshot)
Aaron E. Carroll discusses the difficulty the U.S. has in facing the fact that some treatments are not worth the money: "In fact, we in the United States are so averse to the idea of cost effectiveness that when the Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute, the body specifically set up to do comparative effectiveness research, was founded, the law explicitly prohibited it from funding any cost-effectiveness research at all.

Big Ideas in Social Change 2014 (New York Times' Fixes blog)
In this look back at stories of success over the past year, several themes emerged. Tina Rosenberg describes a couple of these as a focusing on strengths, not needs and targeting social determinants. 


Public Agenda is a nonprofit organization that helps diverse leaders and citizens navigate divisive, complex issues. Through nonpartisan research and engagement, it provides people with the insights and support they need to arrive at workable solutions on critical issues, regardless of their differences. Since 1975, Public Agenda has helped foster progress on K-12 and higher education reform, health care, federal and local budgets, energy and immigration. Find Public Agenda online at

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