Democrats have a good chance of controlling at least one House of Congress in 2019

Political prognostication is a fool’s game and arguably a distraction from the important work of citizens, which is to influence–not to forecast–the future.

But I can’t resist.

Recent projections give the Democrats anywhere from a 39% to a 58% (or even 63%) chance of winning the House. One reputable model gives the Democrats a 30% chance of winning the Senate. Those two results are not truly independent, since both will be affected by the national situation in November. But they are substantially independent, as illustrated by the claim that an 8 percentage-point swing toward the Democrats would give them 44 more House seats and four fewer Senate seats. If we assume that the two elections are independent events, then Democrats have between a 43% and 70% chance of capturing at least one house of Congress.

The wildcard is how the national situation will change between now and late October. If there’s a terrorist attack on the US, it will probably help the president’s party. The nomination battle could boost Republicans by giving religious conservatives a reason to turn out and by putting red-state Democratic Senators in a tough spot. Another four months of economic growth might help the GOP a bit, as would a report from the Special Counsel that comes nowhere close to associating Trump with crimes.

But I think upcoming news is more likely to assist the Democrats. Trump and his party have already captured whatever political benefit they’re going to gain from the economy, and there’s a significant potential for economic turbulence ahead. The Mueller investigation has lost public support without yielding a damaging public report, but his report is coming. Since 67% of Americans want to preserve Roe v Wade, a nomination that places that decision in jeopardy could mobilize more people against Trump than for him. The North Korea summit was a political success for the president: he hyped a genuine crisis to the maximum and then declared it resolved, which convinced a bunch of Americans. But that domestic political gain is fragile, since the threat was not actually resolved. We can also expect massive Obamacare premium increases, ugly battles in Congress, plenty of awkward votes for Republican incumbents, a possibly damaging Special Counsel report, lawsuits and depositions against the president, and unpredictable controversies revolving around him.

Overall, I’d put the chances that the Democrats control at least one house of Congress above 70%. That estimate is compatible with any actual result in November, so there’s no way I can be proven wrong. Meanwhile, stop reading forecasts and get back to work!

Excited to Be Joining Ed Policy at UKY

It is my great pleasure to announce that I’ll be joining the department of Educational Policy Studies and Evaluation at the University of Kentucky as associate professor in August of 2018.

The University of Kentucky.

Photo with students at the University of Mississippi.Over the years, I have had the immense honor to work with countless outstanding students in Public Policy Leadership at the University of Mississippi and in Philosophy at the University of Kentucky. I love to brag about all you’re doing, work in D.C., state government, schools, policy think tanks, and so many more amazing careers. A significant majority of my students appreciated that in places like Mississippi, Kentucky, and really everywhere, some of the deepest challenges we face are in education. To those of you who have not yet gone on to pursue graduate work or would like to study further, I want to strongly encourage you to come join me and my outstanding colleagues in Educational Policy Studies and Evaluation (EPE) at UKY.

The department is updating and redesigning an awesome Master’s program in Educational Policy Studies, for example. We also offer a Master’s in Higher Education with optional concentration in student affairs, a Master’s in Research Methods in Education, an Ed.D. in Ed Policy, Measurement, and Evaluation, a Ph.D. in Higher Education, and a Ph.D. in Education Sciences. More information is available on our Web site here.

The three things I’m proudest of in my life are my family, my students, and the work I get to do with you all on how we can make our world better. I hope that many of you will come join me and my colleagues in Kentucky. You know that when I say I’m excited, I am…

Logo of the University of Kentucky.I am excited.

Come get your next degree and wear blue with me. I can’t wait to see you again.

Want to learn more & come study in Kentucky? Email me.

Exploring Civility in America through Ben Franklin’s Wisdom

As part of our partnership with NCDD member org, Ben Franklin Circles (BFC), we have been sharing stories from BFC. Because of the vitriol of the US political climate these last few years, there has been an increased call for civility. The article offers the views of Ben Franklin and Dale Carnegie as thought fodder for bringing more civility to America. You can read the post below and find the original post on BFC’s site here.


Ben Franklin & Civility

“The only way to win an argument is to avoid it.”

Dale Carnegie’s famous remark was preceded by Benjamin Franklin’s own formulation of this axiom, which he describes in his Autobiography as the “habit of modest diffidence.” Franklin explains that this practice banishes the categorical from his vocabulary, ascribing to this habit much of his success “when [he] had occasion to inculcate [his] opinion and persuade men into measures.”

Gone were words such as “Certainly, undoubtedly, or any others that give air to the positives to an opinion,” and welcomed were such phrases as “I conceived,” “I apprehend,” and “I imagine it to be so.”

At bottom, Carnegie and Franklin offer the same bit of advice: to persuade people to your point of view, you must appear to not disagree with them at all.

If you are now thinking, “How are you supposed to have a conversation without appearing to say anything different from one’s interlocutor?” I know what you mean. It is also fair to ask whether it is patronizing—or even dishonest—to smile and nod at your conversation partner for the sake of personal gain or social ease.

Indeed, Carnegie and Franklin may well be accused by one Tom Scocca of being purveyors of “smarm,” a disposition he scathingly condemned in a 4,000 word treatise.

“Smarm,” says Scocca, “is a kind of performance — an assumption of the forms of seriousness, of virtue, of constructiveness, without the substance.” Smarm, he says, is the tool of self-aggrandizers and the death of public discourse and intellectual honesty. It was when BuzzFeed assumed Thumper’s motto, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say nothing at all”—which sounds vaguely reminiscent of Carnegie’s and Franklin’s advice—that Scocca could no longer stay silent. “The evasion of disputes is a defining tactic of smarm. Smarm, whether political or literary, insists that the audience accept the priors it has been given. Debate begins where the important parts of the debate have ended.” Smarm refuses to engage with ideas by instead “smoothing over” disagreement for the sake of social comfort or personal gain. This, for Scocca, is what makes smarm dishonest and worthy of contempt.

Writer Leon Wieseltier concurs: “In intellectual and literary life, where the stakes may be quite high, manners must never be the primary consideration. People who advance controversial notions should be prepared for controversy. Questions of truth, meaning, goodness, justice and beauty are bigger than Bambi.”

I quite agree.

But that does not mean we should wholly discard Carnegie’s and Franklin’s admonitions. It is possible to disagree with someone without permanently rupturing the relationship, and they point us how to do that.

By encouraging us to be sensitive to how our interlocutor will hear our words, Carnegie and Franklin direct us toward true civility, a mode that respects the inherent dignity of each person with whom one interacts

By placing people at the center, true civility provides a framework for understanding not just when to criticize and when to focus on social ease but, perhaps more importantly, how.

True civility is more than “niceness” because it respects people enough to take them and their ideas seriously. The truly civil person is one who is teachable, who is willing to be wrong, and willing to place a relationship before being right.

Oscar Wilde wrote, “A gentleman is one who never gives offense… unintentionally.” There is, contrary to Carnegie and Franklin’s position, a time to take a strong stance that perhaps even gives offense. We also are not always in control of when others are offended by us. But by plumbing with reinvigorated rigor the foundation to our souls, examining if our values and priorities are reflected in our words and deeds, and be part of re claiming a more authentic, and truly civil, America.

You can find the original version of this post on Ben Franklin Circles’ site at www.benfranklincircles.org/virtues/ben-franklin-civility.

ENGAGING IDEAS – 06/29/2018


Democracy

Gerrymandering Critics Suffer Twin Blows at the Supreme Court (Governing)
The Texas case involves racial gerrymandering, while the North Carolina case deals with partisan gerrymandering -- something the justices have hinted is unconstitutional but have yet to rule against.

The latest sign of political divide: Shaming and shunning public officials (Washington Post)
Anger and division in American politics are creating a rising phenomenon: the public shaming and shunning of political figures while they are going about their private lives.

How we know journalism is good for democracy (Local News Lab)
According to new data being released later this month, at least 900 communities across the United States have faced profound erosion in their access to local news and information since 2004.


Opportunity/Inequality

The Minimum Wage Just Turned 80. Economists Don't Give It Enough Credit(Fortune)
At the deepest level, the minimum wage embodies justice. It speaks to the words of Martin Luther King Jr. that "all labor has dignity"-and so deserves a decent rate of pay..

'Squeezed' Explores Why America Is Getting Too Expensive For The Middle Class (NPR)
Author Alissa Quart writes that the costs of housing, child care, health care and college are outpacing salaries and threatening the livelihoods of middle class Americans.

An autopsy of the American dream (Vox)
Brill has been writing about class warfare in the US since 2011, and the picture he paints is as depressing as it is persuasive.


Engagement

Re-released, Infogagement: Citizenship and Democracy in the Age of Connection (PACE)
So much about our lives, communities, and social compact is being re-envisioned. Yet here, in the intersection of information, technology, engagement, and public life, are seeds of current American upheaval.

Civic engagement declines when local newspapers shut down (Journalist's Resource)
Studies have found that areas with fewer local news outlets and declining coverage also have lower levels of civic engagement and voter turnout.

Smart Cities 3.0: 5G, Edge Computing and Citizen Engagement(State Tech Magazine)
With advanced technology and careful planning, city governments can alleviate growing problems seen in many of today's urban communities and become more sustainable for future generations.


K-12

AmeriCorps 'volunteers' in Denver schools were district employees, investigation finds (Chalkbeat)
The AmeriCorps program in Denver Public Schools has been terminated after an investigation found the district broke rules by recruiting its own employees to serve as volunteers, according to a report released Wednesday.

New education budget threatens dozens of low-performing Detroit schools with closure - again (Chalkbeat)
Dozens of struggling Detroit schools could face closure once again after Gov. Rick Snyder signed an education budget on Thursday that seeks to stiffen consequences for low-scoring schools.

A $1 billion Gates Foundation-backed education initiative failed to help students, according to a new report - here's what happened (Business Insider)
A seven-year, nearly $1 billion education initiative centered on improving teaching quality in low-income schools - and bankrolled in part by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation - largely failed to help students, according to a new report from nonprofit policy think tank RAND.


Higher Ed/Workforce

Vocational Programs Get Boost From Congress(Wall Street Journal)
Bill that provides incentives for technical training programs set to pass, in rare moment of bipartisan agreement.

Should America's Universities Stop Taking So Many International Students? (The Atlantic)
Critics say the country's higher-education institutions should focus on ensuring more Americans get four-year degrees, but college presidents highlight the benefits of global diversity on campus.


Health Care

Can Low-Intensity Care Solve High Health Care Costs? (The Upshot)
The shift toward cheaper settings like outpatient clinics and homes is a worthy goal, but new research is showing us where we shouldn't cut corners.

White House wants to cut this public health service corps by nearly 40 percent (Washington Post)
The White House is proposing to reduce by nearly 40 percent the uniformed public health professionals who deploy during disasters and disease outbreaks, monitor drug safety and provide health care in some of the nation's most remote and disadvantaged areas.

Fewer Americans are spending their final days in the hospital and more are dying at home(Los Angeles Times)
The American way of dying seems to have become less frantic, desperate and expensive. That's the upshot of a new study that finds that seniors insured by Medicare who died in 2015 were less likely to do so in a hospital and more likely to pass away in a home or other community setting than those who died in 2000.

ENGAGING IDEAS – 06/29/2018


Democracy

Gerrymandering Critics Suffer Twin Blows at the Supreme Court (Governing)
The Texas case involves racial gerrymandering, while the North Carolina case deals with partisan gerrymandering -- something the justices have hinted is unconstitutional but have yet to rule against.

The latest sign of political divide: Shaming and shunning public officials (Washington Post)
Anger and division in American politics are creating a rising phenomenon: the public shaming and shunning of political figures while they are going about their private lives.

How we know journalism is good for democracy (Local News Lab)
According to new data being released later this month, at least 900 communities across the United States have faced profound erosion in their access to local news and information since 2004.


Opportunity/Inequality

The Minimum Wage Just Turned 80. Economists Don't Give It Enough Credit(Fortune)
At the deepest level, the minimum wage embodies justice. It speaks to the words of Martin Luther King Jr. that "all labor has dignity"-and so deserves a decent rate of pay..

'Squeezed' Explores Why America Is Getting Too Expensive For The Middle Class (NPR)
Author Alissa Quart writes that the costs of housing, child care, health care and college are outpacing salaries and threatening the livelihoods of middle class Americans.

An autopsy of the American dream (Vox)
Brill has been writing about class warfare in the US since 2011, and the picture he paints is as depressing as it is persuasive.


Engagement

Re-released, Infogagement: Citizenship and Democracy in the Age of Connection (PACE)
So much about our lives, communities, and social compact is being re-envisioned. Yet here, in the intersection of information, technology, engagement, and public life, are seeds of current American upheaval.

Civic engagement declines when local newspapers shut down (Journalist's Resource)
Studies have found that areas with fewer local news outlets and declining coverage also have lower levels of civic engagement and voter turnout.

Smart Cities 3.0: 5G, Edge Computing and Citizen Engagement(State Tech Magazine)
With advanced technology and careful planning, city governments can alleviate growing problems seen in many of today's urban communities and become more sustainable for future generations.


K-12

AmeriCorps 'volunteers' in Denver schools were district employees, investigation finds (Chalkbeat)
The AmeriCorps program in Denver Public Schools has been terminated after an investigation found the district broke rules by recruiting its own employees to serve as volunteers, according to a report released Wednesday.

New education budget threatens dozens of low-performing Detroit schools with closure - again (Chalkbeat)
Dozens of struggling Detroit schools could face closure once again after Gov. Rick Snyder signed an education budget on Thursday that seeks to stiffen consequences for low-scoring schools.

A $1 billion Gates Foundation-backed education initiative failed to help students, according to a new report - here's what happened (Business Insider)
A seven-year, nearly $1 billion education initiative centered on improving teaching quality in low-income schools - and bankrolled in part by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation - largely failed to help students, according to a new report from nonprofit policy think tank RAND.


Higher Ed/Workforce

Vocational Programs Get Boost From Congress(Wall Street Journal)
Bill that provides incentives for technical training programs set to pass, in rare moment of bipartisan agreement.

Should America's Universities Stop Taking So Many International Students? (The Atlantic)
Critics say the country's higher-education institutions should focus on ensuring more Americans get four-year degrees, but college presidents highlight the benefits of global diversity on campus.


Health Care

Can Low-Intensity Care Solve High Health Care Costs? (The Upshot)
The shift toward cheaper settings like outpatient clinics and homes is a worthy goal, but new research is showing us where we shouldn't cut corners.

White House wants to cut this public health service corps by nearly 40 percent (Washington Post)
The White House is proposing to reduce by nearly 40 percent the uniformed public health professionals who deploy during disasters and disease outbreaks, monitor drug safety and provide health care in some of the nation's most remote and disadvantaged areas.

Fewer Americans are spending their final days in the hospital and more are dying at home(Los Angeles Times)
The American way of dying seems to have become less frantic, desperate and expensive. That's the upshot of a new study that finds that seniors insured by Medicare who died in 2015 were less likely to do so in a hospital and more likely to pass away in a home or other community setting than those who died in 2000.

coming soon: Democracy’s Discontent and Civic Learning

Now available for pre-ordering is Charles S. White (ed.), Democracy’s Discontent and Civic Learning: Multiple Perspectives. Chapters include:

  • “The Populist Moment,” by William A. Galston.
  • “Populism, Democracy, and the Education of Citizens,” by Thomas S. Vontz and J. Spencer Clark, (with Stephen L. Schechter).
  • “Are Europe’s Democracies in Danger? A View of the Populist Challenge,” by Karlheinz Duerr.
  • “Confronting a Global Democracy Recession: The Role of United States International Democracy Support Programs,” by Liza Prendergast
  • “Democracy’s Pharmakon: Technology as Remedy and Poison,” by Charles S. White.
  • “Judicial Legitimacy in the Age of Populism,” by Alison Staudinger.
  • “Fulfilling the Promise of Democracy: How Black Lives Matter Can Foster Empowered Civic Engagement,” by Amy J. Samuels and Gregory L. Samuels.
  • “Does P–12 Educational Research Ameliorate or Perpetuate Inequity?” by Jacob S. Bennett.
  • “Democracy’s Discontent and Teacher Education: Countering Populism and Cultivating Democracy,” by Stephanie Schroeder.
  • “A Primer on Trump Economics: Populist or Something Else?” by James E. Davis.
  • “Going for Depth in Civic Education: A Design Experiment,” by Walter C. Parker. With responses:
    • “What Public Philosophy Should We Teach? A Reply to Parker,” by Peter Levine
    • “Fidelity of Implementation: A Reply to Parker,” by James E. Davis
    • “Contrasting Landscapes: A Reply to Parker,” by Karlheinz Duerr

Watch Recording of the 2018 A Public Voice Event in DC

In case you missed it, the recording was released for last month’s A Public Voice, held May 9th in Washington DC. The annual event hosted by NCDD member orgs – the Kettering Foundation and the National Issues Forums Institute, brought together policymakers, their staffers, and folks from the D&D field to discuss outcomes from the forums on immigration that were held throughout the year. You can read the announcement and watch the APV2018 recording in the post below, and find the original on NIFI’s site here.


Watch – A Public Voice 2018, Recorded May 9, 2018 at the National Press Club in Washington, DC

A Public Voice, the Kettering Foundation‘s annual event that brings together policymakers and practitioners of deliberative democracy from around the country, was held on May 9, 2018 at the National Press Club in Washington, DC. The two-hour panel discussion and audience questions were recorded (the program begins at about 14 minutes, 20 seconds into the recording) and can be viewed at  https://tinyurl.com/APublicVoice2018.

Gary Paul, a National Issues Forums Institute (NIFI) director and professor at Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University; and John Doble, Kettering Foundation senior associate and contributing editor of the Coming to America issue guide, moderated the exchange among members of a panel that included:

  • Jean Johnson, National Issues Forums Institute, Vice President for moderator development and communications and contributor to the Coming to America report
  • Alberto Olivas, Executive Director, Pastor Center for Politics and Public Service, Arizona State University
  • Virginia York, National Issues Forums moderator, Panama City, Florida
  • Oliver Schwab, chief of staff, Rep. David S. Schweickert
  • Mischa Thompson, senior policy advisor, US Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe
  • Adam Hunter, former director, immigration and the states project, Pew Charitable Trusts
  • Betsy Wright Hawkings, program director, governance initiative, Democracy Fund

You can find the original version of this announcement on the National Issues Forums Institute’s blog at www.nifi.org/en/watch-public-voice-2018-recorded-may-9-2018-national-press-club-washington-dc.

Evdem with Undivided Nation & Join NCDD Confab Tomo

Leading up to our NCDD Confab call tomorrow featuring NCDD member org Undivided Nation, we wanted to share this piece from fellow NCDD member org, Everyday Democracy. Written by Sandy Rodriguez, the piece shares the story of the Leavertons’ journey to every state across the US to listen to folks’ stories, better understand our Nation’s history, and ultimately help bring people together across divides.

We are thrilled to talk with the Leavertons’ on our Confab call tomorrow, Thursday, June 28th from 2-3pm Eastern/11am-Noon Pacific. Register to join us for this free call by clicking here! You can read the post below and find the original on EvDem’s site here.


The Road to an Undivided Nation—Discovering How Race Divides Us

EvDem LogoImagine quitting your job, selling your home and taking your three small children on the road for a year in an RV to visit all 50 states in our nation, with the goal of understanding our current divides and finding ways to bridge them toward an undivided nation.

This is the Leaverton’s American Dream and they are living it, state by state, from south, to north, east to west, community by community on a yearlong, enlightening and heartfelt listening tour. Since January 2018, the family of five has embarked on a cross-country tour, meeting with American people, from all walks of life in the nation’s cities and towns. The purpose of their meetings is three-fold: First, it is to listen to them to gain a deeper understanding of the challenges in each community. Second, it is to collectively explore the roots of the nation’s divides. And last, it is to search for ways that can connect us all, across the many divides. They were 18 states into their journey, when they visited, learned from and shared their story with the Everyday Democracy team in Hartford, Connecticut.

“We were led to take on this journey after the 2016 Presidential election,” said David Leaverton when the issues that were dividing our country became front and center. “We started in Tulsa, Oklahoma expecting to hear about and talk about the political divisions that exist between liberals and conservatives. It was then, that we began to discover a deeper division, more foundational than our political differences that run along racial lines. Injustice and inequality was the key issue that so many people wanted to talk about. Conversations with people across the country have taught us so many things that we weren’t taught in our history books. We got more than we bargained for in these conversations, and that continued as a theme as we moved into Arkansas, Mississippi, Louisiana, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Tennessee, Kentucky, West Virginia, Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey and Pennsylvania before landing in Connecticut.

In almost every community we have visited, when we opened the conversation on what is dividing our nation, unilaterally, people often wanted to talk about racism. They wanted to share stories related to justice and inequality relating to skin color. They wanted to talk about race.”

“The challenge is,” said David Leaverton, “reaching the white moderates like us. White moderates who believe more in order than in justice, as so poignantly put by Martin Luther King in his “Letter From a Birmingham Jail.”

Here is an excerpt:
First, I must confess that over the past few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Council-er or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to “order” than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: “I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action”; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a “more convenient season.” Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.

Martin Luther King, Letter From a Birmingham Jail, April 16, 1963
http://okra.stanford.edu/transcription/document_images/undecided/630416-019.pdf

Erin and David provided many examples of how racism is alive and well in our country, gathered from their listening sessions so far. Erin talked about Mechelle, a pregnant black woman in her early 20s who was ignored and mistreated when she went to the local hospital to deliver her baby. Mechelle lost her baby and almost lost her own life. You can read more about Mechelle and her story here.

You can read many more stories on the Leaverton’s blog:
https://undividednation.us/road-trip/.

In the intimate community conversation in Hartford, Connecticut hosted by Everyday Democracy one person asked, “Why can’t we just all be one race, and get past this? Just take the race and ethnicity question off the census?” David Leaverton responded. “I believe that before we “get past” the racial labels that have divided our population, we first need to acknowledge what has happened historically and what is still going on today.” Only after recognition and a true effort for reconciliation has occurred, can we, as a people, move forward in a way that will transform our culture to one of inclusion and equity for all.

The Leavertons are hoping that through the simple act of listening and sharing stories, that diverse opinions, backgrounds and viewpoints that have kept Americans so deeply divided can give way to cross-cultural understanding, authentic forgiveness, and an unprecedented level of justice and unity in America. They are inspired by the people they are meeting and organizations, like Everyday Democracy, that are working tirelessly to bridge the divides, toward a truly united nation.

The Collision of Journalism, Technology and Civic Engagement

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

Four years ago, Matt Leighninger, Public Agenda's vice president of public engagement, wrote a paper called "Infogagement" for Philanthropy for Active Civic Engagement (PACE). In the paper, Matt predicted that journalism, technology and civic engagement were on a collision course. It seems today we're witnessing that collision and its harmful effects on our democracy in the form of fake news, echo chamber groupthink, information overload, populist instability, the erosion of local journalism and the acceleration of society's trust crisis.

Last week, PACE, in partnership with Public Agenda, re-released this important paper which contains a new introduction from Matt and a series of commentaries from thought leaders across the fields of civic engagement, journalism, technology and philanthropy. How can we engage people constructively and productively in the digital age? What are the dangers we must overcome, and how can we do so?

The challenges are vast, but, as Matt notes, "... it isn't all bad news."

Infogagement: Citizenship and Democracy in the Age of Connection is a must-read for anyone who wants to explore the implications of digital information and communications for democracy.