May 21, 2015



Corinthian Dominates Headlines, but Students and Employers on For-Profits' Sidelines


Flickr: Jessica Kim

Earlier this month, for-profit giant Corinthian Colleges officially declared bankruptcy, after having gradually closed its campuses over the past year. The high-profile failure of Corinthian - once a Wall Street darling - has cast a shadow on the for-profit college industry.

As the collapse of Corinthian dominates headlines, we worry that narratives that underscore controversy or oversimplify the higher education system may harm efforts to foster a healthier, more inclusive conversation.

For-profits may be a top concern for some of our legislators and education leaders. However, our research suggests that expert-level policy conversations about these schools are not meaningful to students and employers, two groups directly affected by the success or failure of for-profit schools.


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How Much Do You Know About Charter Schools?

Are charter schools public? Are they funded by taxpayers? Can they charge tuition? Can they select students based on academic ability?

Here's how Americans answered these questions in a poll conducted last year. How do your responses compare?  Visit to find the answers and read up on the research about charters. 


Engaging Ideas

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

Nick Kristof describes a randomized trial involving 21,000 people in six countries that suggests an aid programs success is due, at least in part, to hope. 

Tanzania tries out deliberative polling developed in the late 1980s by James Fishkin. The article describes how low literacy and education levels did not seem to prevent a successful project. For a discussion of the limits of Fishkin's method, see Will Friedman's article "Deliberative Democracy and the Problem of Scope." 

Yesterday a study about changing attitudes published in the journal Science was retracted by a co-author, Donald Green, claiming the data was fabricated. This commentary from Green's colleague Andrew Gelman describes the scandal affecting the political science community. See host of This American Life Ira Glass' take on it here

Cities like Detroit, Philadelphia, Chicago and Jacksonville, Fla., are finding ways to re-purpose vacant lots and brighten abandoned homes -- actions that can curb crime, increase property values and even help residents' health. 

The authors of this post describe what changes could happen to the world of higher education when enough employers trust a particular skills assessment. 

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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