Engaging Ideas — 1/06/2017

Every week we curate stories and reports on complex issues. This week: What’s behind a growing class gap in youth civic engagement? A guide to loaded education lingo in the Trump era. A free college plan for New York state. And in a Kaiser poll, the majority of Americans don’t want an ACA repeal without a replacement plan.

Democracy

Obama Leaves the Constitution Weaker Than He Found It (The Atlantic) 
Even for those who admire the 44th president, the constitutional record is disturbingly mixed.

The U.S. might be better off without Congress — and a president (Wonkblog)
How we would redesign the U.S. government if we could start from scratch.

Engagement

Paper: Pathways to Participation: Class Disparities in Youth Civic Engagement (City & Community)
Research finds that there is a growing class gap in levels of civic engagement among young whites in the United States. Our evidence suggests that a withdrawal of institutional investments in working class neighborhoods (and relative to middle class neighborhoods), along with an increase in population turnover and racial and ethnic heterogeneity, which has disproportionately impacted working class neighborhoods as well, may be important factors in understanding the growing class gap in civic engagement among white youth.

Participatory budgeting as a form of citizen involvement (The Daily Progress)
This is a two-way street. Officials must support ways for deep citizen engagement, making sure that they hear all voices — from the most privileged to the most needy. At the same time, we as residents must be present and educate ourselves in order to effectively advocate for what is needed in our neighborhoods. So, how can we effectively create a system that ensures that democracy is effective?

Participatory Budgeting in Action: An Interview With Filmmaker Ines Sommer (Truth Out)
Count Me In is a documentary that follows the first PB process in the city of Chicago. The film follows residents across different wards, including the 49th Ward that was the first to adopt PB. Brandon Jordan spoke with Ines Sommer, the director of the film, about what interested her in PB, Chicago’s processes and what lessons PB offers for the US.

Opportunity

Growth, Not Forced Equality, Saves the Poor (The New York Times)
Eliminate poverty, but don’t worry so much about inequality. Enforcing the Voting Rights Act matters; equalizing possession of Rolexes does not. By Deirdre N. McCloskey, a professor emerita of economics, history, English and communication at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Prosperity, Not Upward Mobility, Is What Matters (The Atlantic)
There’s too much focus on whether Americans can move up the economic ladder, and not enough on the basic question of their quality of life.

The Rise of a Bipartisan Tax Break for the Working Poor (Governing)
The earned income tax credit is a rare antipoverty program that has enjoyed a long history of bipartisan support among state and federal policymakers.

WSJ’s Daily Shot: The Financial State of America in Six Charts (The Wall Street Journal)
Rising rent and health-care costs are creating challenges for many Americans as wage growth fails to keep pace.

K-12 Education

Quality Counts 2017: State Report Cards Map (Education Week)
Find state-by-state grades and summary data reflecting K-12 achievement, finance, and other indicators in this interactive map.

‘School choice’ or ‘privatization’? A guide to loaded education lingo in the Trump era (Washington Post)
We’re used to the politically charged language of the abortion wars. Education has its own version.

The New World of School Accountability (Governing)
As states craft new systems to identify low-performing schools, they should include a broader range of indicators.

9 Questions For The Nation’s Top School Counselor (NPR)
Today, first lady Michelle Obama honored the 2017 school counselor of the year, Terri Tchorzynski of the Calhoun Area Career Center in Battle Creek, Mich.

Higher Education & Workforce Development

The In-and-Out List (Inside Higher Ed)
A look at what happened in 2016 and what’s to come in 2017 with Inside Higher Ed’s fifth annual in-and-out list.

Infographic: For-Profit Colleges by the Numbers (Center for Analysis of Postsecondary Education and Employment)
For-profit colleges were the fastest growing sector of higher education in the 1990s and 2000s, but their share of enrollment has since declined.

The Transfer Experience: a Student Perspective (The Chronicle of Higher Education)
Viewed one way, Andy Hedrick’s story is a positive one. He is one of the few students to start at a community college, transfer to a four-year institution and earn his bachelor’s. But Mr. Hedrick faced several obstacles on his path.

Colleges Must Prepare Students Better for Post-Graduation Jobs, Gallup Report Says (Los Angeles Times)
Career services needs to be more than just an office students visit their senior year, said Brandon Busteed, executive director of education and workforce development at Gallup. It needs to reach students when they’re freshmen and incorporate mentors, internships and work experience.

New York takes a stab at debt-free college, covering tuition for families earning less than $125,000 (The Washington Post)
Any New Yorker accepted to one of the state’s community colleges or four-year universities will be eligible for free tuition provided their family earns less than $125,000 a year. The new initiative will be phased in over three years, beginning for New Yorkers making up to $100,000 annually in the fall of 2017, increasing to $110,000 in 2018, and reaching $125,000 in 2019. It would be a last-dollar program, meaning the state would cover any tuition left over after factoring in federal Pell Grants and New York’s Tuition Assistance Program.

Health Care

Only 20 Percent Of Americans Support Health Law Repeal Without Replacement Plan (Kaiser Health News) 
KHN reporter Jordan Rau writes: “The Republican strategy of repealing the Affordable Health Care Act before devising a replacement plan has the support of only one in five Americans, a poll released Friday finds. The Kaiser Family Foundation survey also disclosed that shrinking the federal government’s involvement and spending in health care — the long-sought goal of House Speaker Paul Ryan and other Republican lawmakers — is less important to most Americans than is ensuring medical care is affordable and available.”

Repealing Obamacare affects everyone (CNN)
CNN’s Tami Luhby traces how Obamacare repeal would affect disparate corners of health care, from Medicare beneficiaries to Americans who get their health care through their employers.

The Health Care Plan Trump Voters Really Want (The New York Times)
After listening to working-class supporters of Donald J. Trump — people who are enrolled in the very health care marketplaces created by the law — one comes away feeling that the Washington debate is sadly disconnected from the concerns of working people. Those voters have been disappointed by Obamacare, but they could be even more disappointed by Republican alternatives to replace it. They have no strong ideological views about repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act, or future directions for health policy. What they want are pragmatic solutions to their insurance problems. The very last thing they want is higher out-of-pocket costs.

Patients don’t trust health information technology (Fierce Healthcare)
More than 50% of consumers are skeptical about the benefits of healthcare information technologies, including patient portals, mobile apps and electronic health records. And fully 70% of Americans distrust health technology, up sharply from just 10% in 2014.

If we knew what things cost, they might cost less (Bloomberg View)
Unfortunately, transparency just isn’t working at the consumer level. There have been a flurry of state laws to mandate price disclosure to patients, and a blizzard of new apps and websites that let buyers compare prices. But they aren’t doing it. Study after study says that patients just don’t shop around based on price, like consumers usually do. That might be because services are so expensive that most patients will reach their deductible, and patients don’t believe purchasing cheaper services will lead to lower premiums in the future. Or it might be because of lock-in effects, in which people are loath to ditch their existing providers. But elsewhere in the industry, transparency seems to have a much bigger effect.


This post originally appeared on Public Agenda’s blog, On The Agenda.