Public Agenda
On the Agenda The Public Agenda Blog

09.01 Parent Engagement in Schools: What is Working? What Should We Try Next?

Thursday, September 1st, 2016 | Matt Leighninger



For decades now, educators, researchers and school reform advocates have emphasized the importance of parent and family engagement. While the evidence for the impact of parent engagement continues to build, school systems have made key realizations about how best to support it. Some have pushed the concept further by developing practices of "student-centered learning."

Research "repeatedly correlates family engagement with student achievement," according to the 2010 Beyond Random Acts report of the National Policy Forum for Family, School, and Community Engagement. Research also suggests family engagement gives students better attitudes toward learning, produces better social skills and fewer disciplinary problems, and leads to lower drop-out rates and higher graduation rates.

On the surface, family engagement may seem like a question of good parenting rather than public participation. But it has become clear that family engagement is largely dependent on how teachers and schools interact with parents. In particular, students benefit from schools and communities that support sustained family engagement.


Click to read more | Comment

08.30 Managing Discussions, Blog 3 of 3: Ground Rules and Feedback

Tuesday, August 30th, 2016 | Matt Leighninger and Tina Nabatchi



Key Talents for Better Public Participation, Part 11

Today, we close out our exploration of managing discussions with two critical skills: establishing ground rules and providing feedback.

If you missed them, check out our previous entries on face-to-face facilitation, recording and online moderation.

Ground Rules

When people are treated like adults, they generally act like adults. But sometimes, extra steps need to be taken to reinforce civil behavior. One way of doing so without removing group control over the process, is encouraging participants to set some basic ground rules – norms or standards for conduct, behavior and conversation that help shape constructive and productive dialogue and otherwise make a group functional.

Specifically, ground rules are used to establish the purpose of group, outline how meetings and conversations will be conducted, ensure that conflict is addressed but not escalated and create a safe environment to discuss difficult and controversial issues. The general premise behind ground rules is that all participants should be treated equally and fairly.


Click to read more | Comment

08.26 Engaging Ideas - 8/26

Friday, August 26th, 2016 | Public Agenda





Every week we curate stories and reports on complex issues including democracy, public engagement, opportunity, education and health care.


Democracy

State Budgets’ Forecast: Cloudy (Governing)
At a time when every budget “yes” may mean saying “no” to something else, it can be painful for politicians to be forthright about the decisions they are making. But holding public debates about priorities is an essential part of leadership.


Public Engagement

A Scorecard for Public Engagement (Governing)
Involving members of the community in policymaking is tricky, but it's worth the effort. Those who do it well share some approaches.


Philanthropy

The Plight of the Overworked Nonprofit Employee (The Atlantic)
Strangely, though nonprofits are increasingly expected to perform like businesses, they do not get the same leeway in funding that government-contracted businesses do. They don’t have nearly the bargaining power of big corporations, or the ability to raise costs for their products and services, because of tight controls on grant funding. “D.C. is full of millionaires who contract with government in the defense field, and they make a killing, and yet if you’re a nonprofit, chances are you aren’t getting the full amount of funding to cover the cost of the services required,” Iliff said. “Can you imagine Lockheed Martin or Boeing putting up with a government contract that didn’t allow for overhead?”


Click to read more | Comment

08.24 Participatory Budgeting Gives Queens College Students a Voice

Wednesday, August 24th, 2016 | Janice Adamo



My first experience with participatory budgeting, or PB, at Queens College was nothing short of revolutionary. Most college students feel left out from the decisions their schools make about how to spend money. PB gives me and my fellow Queens College students a tool to better understand our school’s budget and have a voice in how money is spent.

Queens College is a part of the City University of New York (CUNY) system, whose budget is unpredictable and often controversial. We are currently working to institutionalize Participatory Budgeting within the CUNY system. During the 2015-16 budget year, PB at Queens College was limited to a portion of the Student Government budget - $5,000 out of a total Student Government budget of over $115,000. This budget is funded entirely by students themselves. Every year, each student pays a student activity fee of $12 that goes into the budget. The Student Government plans and orchestrates various events on campus, so it’s particularly meaningful for students to have a voice in how this money is spent.

While students had the opportunity to weigh in on Student Government budget decisions before PB arrived, student participation was not fully inclusive. All enrolled students are allowed to be a part of Student Government, but it is a commitment that some cannot make. Not every single one of the almost 21,000 students has the time. Queens College is a commuter school and many of our students keep full- or part-time jobs, raise families or live too far away to stay extra hours. Many had therefore been left out of the process of determining what the $115,000+ Student Government budget will be spent on.


Click to read more | Comment

08.22 Managing Discussions, Blog 2 of 3: Recording and Online Moderation

Monday, August 22nd, 2016 | Matt Leighninger and Tina Nabatchi



Ten Key Talents for Better Public Participation Part 10

Ensuring that participant interactions work well for everyone requires a number of key skills centered on managing discussions, including facilitating face-to-face groups, recording, moderating online forums, setting ground rules and giving feedback.

Last week, we provided an overview for facilitating face-to-face groups. This week, we'll explore the functions of recording and online moderation. Next week, we'll complete this series on managing discussions with a blog on ground rules and providing meaningful feedback with participants.

Recording

Recording or scribing during facilitation can be done on flipcharts or butcher paper in front of the group, on a laptop or tablet, or through audio taping and other technologies.

Recording has many benefits. It lets people know they have been heard and that their ideas have been recognized. It provides a “transcript” of the meeting to help with future discussions and decisions, and can provide information to those who did not attend the meeting. And it helps keep participants on track with the agenda.


Click to read more | Comment

08.19 Engaging Ideas - 8/19

Friday, August 19th, 2016 | Public Agenda





Every week we curate stories and reports on complex issues including democracy, public engagement, opportunity, education and health care.


Democracy

Who says voters are ‘polarized’? (Christian Science Monitor)
A study of voters who read news articles about political polarization finds they tend to soften their views. Democracy relies less on division than a respect among fellow citizens.

In South Dakota, Voters Get Rare Chance to Transform Politics (Governing)
Advocates around the country are weighing in on ballot measures that would drastically change South Dakota's elections, weaken the state’s Republican Party and send a message all over.

How media coverage of political polarization affects voter attitudes (Journalist’s Resource / Shorenstein Center)
New research in Political Communication looks at the media’s role in shaping perceptions of how divided the country is and how voters respond to members of the opposing party.


Opportunity

How do Americans view poverty? Many blue-collar whites, key to Trump, criticize poor people as lazy and content to stay on welfare (Washington Post)
The first Times poll of American attitudes toward poverty, in 1985, broke ground by surveying enough poor people to compare their views with those of people in the middle class. The new survey, which was conducted by The Times and the American Enterprise Institute, a Washington think tank that is generally conservative, asked similar questions but with some updating. Much has changed since the 1980s. Welfare got a major overhaul in the 1990s. The number of poor Americans dropped sharply in that decade, only to partially rise again, particularly during the deep recession that began in 2007. But many attitudes have held steady, the new poll found, particularly doubts about the federal government’s ability to run its antipoverty programs, as well as their justification.


Click to read more | Comment

08.18 The Tension Between Preserving a Community and Protecting It

Thursday, August 18th, 2016 | Nicole Hewitt




A Grand Bayou resident repairs his fishing net.

On a recent hot and humid summer afternoon on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, I head west in my rental car on I-10. It is eleven years nearly to the day since Hurricane Katrina made landfall on the Gulf Coast. Debris has been removed and many of the levees and floodwalls have been repaired. And houses have been fixed or rebuilt.

Yet residents of the Gulf Coast continue to struggle not only with destructive weather and coastal land loss, but with the tension created between preserving their community and protecting it.

I have returned to the Gulf Coast for the first time since 2010, when I was here with the Institute for Sustainable Communities. After Katrina, we worked with city government and nonprofit leaders, building their capacity to better serve their community and help it to be stronger and more resilient.

In my current position with Public Agenda, I am continuing to work in the region, building public engagement infrastructure. This summer I traveled across the Gulf Coast to see how community leaders are doing since the devastating storm. And I witnessed firsthand the tension created by efforts to build community resiliency in the face of climate change.


Click to read more | Comment (2)

08.15 Managing Discussions, Blog 1 of 3: Facilitating Face-to-Face Groups

Monday, August 15th, 2016 | Matt Leighninger and Tina Nabatchi



Ten Key Talents for Better Public Participation Part 9

In public participation, the rubber hits road when citizens begin talking with each other. Ensuring that these interactions work well – for citizens, public officials, public employees and other stakeholders – requires a number of key participation skills centered on managing discussions, including facilitating face-to-face groups, recording, moderating online forums, setting ground rules and giving feedback.

This week, we'll discuss skills for facilitating face-to-face groups. In subsequent weeks, we'll discuss the remaining topics.

Facilitating Face-to-Face Groups

The basic definition of “facilitate” is to make easy or easier. Within the context of public participation, the word facilitate means to lead (and make easier) a group discussion. This is done, for example, by guiding conversations, asking questions, mediating between opposing viewpoints, ensuring that all participants’ views are heard, reflecting and summarizing what is said, following the agenda and keeping time.

The facilitator’s main task is to create a safe environment where each participant feels comfortable expressing ideas and responding to those of others.


Click to read more | Comment

08.12 Engaging Ideas - 8/12

Friday, August 12th, 2016 | Public Agenda





Every week we curate stories and reports on complex issues including democracy, public engagement, opportunity, education and health care.


Democracy

Hopelessly Divided? Think Again. (Moyers & Company)
Instead of lamenting our divisions, let’s celebrate what we agree on and find candidates willing to address what's blocking cooperation.

Can Citizen Governance Save Our Republic? (Governing)
Some governments are moving to give citizens more of a direct role in policymaking. It's a promising experiment. According to Public Agenda, 70,000 Americans and Canadians in 22 cities voted last year on how to spend nearly $50 million through participatory budgeting.

The Nerd’s Dream Guide to the U.S. Constitution (The Atlantic)
If you’ve been meaning to do this reading for a while, now really is the time to do it. The more citizens who take seriously their roles as stewards of our fundamental law, the less likely it becomes that the values of due process, equal protection, civic equality, and self-government can be obliterated by the screams of an angry mob.


Public Opinion

How did Marist, Monmouth, Suffolk and Quinnipiac get known for political polling? (Washington Post)
Americans addicted to political polls can get their fix these days from a growing number of colleges and universities that measure the ups and downs of presidential candidates Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton in a tumultuous election year. But the leaders in this expansion of academic polling are hardly household names outside of politics. For these schools, polling in a polarized America yields a marketing bonanza akin to what others might reap through college football bowl games or the NCAA basketball tournament. They are building brands through surveys of political battlegrounds.


Click to read more | Comment

08.11 In Their Own Words: Public Officials on Participatory Budgeting

Thursday, August 11th, 2016 | Carolin Hagelskamp, Ph.D.



The Public Agenda research team is spending the summer digging deep into 66 interviews we conducted with elected officials across the United States. We’ve been speaking with these officials since early 2015 regarding their views of and experiences with participatory budgeting (PB).

Through these interviews, we’ve gathered rich insights into on what motivates officials to take on PB and what it means to experiment with this innovative form of public engagement.

We spoke not only to officials who brought PB to their communities, but also to many who either decided that PB was not for them or who had heard about PB but not yet considered it for their jurisdictions. In short, we had frank conversations with PB advocates and skeptics!

We will publish a report on this research in the fall. In the meantime, we want to share some of the most inspiring and provoking one-liners we found in our data regarding what PB means to these public officials.

These quotes – from officials representing eight cities across the U.S. – highlight what a multi-facetted democratic process PB can be, as well as the many ways it may impact people, communities and government.


Click to read more | Comment

  1   Page 2    3   4   5   6   7  . . .  35  Next >>