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Public Policy is social agreement written down as a universal guide for social action. We at The Policy ThinkShop share information so others can think and act in the best possible understanding of "The Public Interest."

Gap in Diet Quality Between Wealthiest and Poorest Americans Doubles, Study Finds

Healthy food is not easy to prepare, does not have a very long shelf life, and is more expensive than cheaper canned and mass produced “food” that contains fillers and other ingredients that return adequate profits, facilitate transportation, refrigeration, and distribution.

America’s food consumption and health connection problem goes well beyond socioeconomic issues of lack of cash and proximity and access to healthy food.  Our society’s economy produces commodities and commodities are distributed based on market forces of supply and demand.  Supply and demand pressures have thus far overpowered the traditional forces on the side of promoting community health.  The loosing forces are:

  • Social do-gooders
  • Philanthropy
  • Public health officials
  • Conscientious parents
  • Suburban focused and lead prevention efforts

In short, economic forces have thus far trumped social ideas and groups aiming to undo what are basically the macro and micro consequences of food production and distribution.

Any successful efforts in this area will have to have for-profit corporations at the table with philanthropy and government officials providing public policy leadership and incentives that appeal to corporate America’s economic interests and social responsibility (good corporate citizen) commitments.

More via Gap in Diet Quality Between Wealthiest and Poorest Americans Doubles, Study Finds.

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Filed under: ACA and Medicaid, Behavioral Health Outcomes, Blogosphere, Health Literacy, Health Policy, Healthcare Reform, News, Parenting, Philanthropy, Policy ThinkShop Comments on other media platforms, Public Health, Public Policy

Linking Research to Public Interest

At the Policy ThinkShop we are constantly trying to discover and share the most comprehensive and reliable public policy resources available to support you in your efforts to master specific policy areas.  One of these areas which impacts every aspect of our personal, public and private lives is education policy.

The American Educational Research Association (AERA) is a good resource for everything education policy:

“As part of its mission to “promote the use of research to improve education and serve the public good,” AERA has enlisted the expertise of its members to provide comment on Supreme Court cases and federal legislation to support this mission.

Amicus BriefsAERA has provided scientific evidence in legal briefs submitted to the Supreme Court in cases involving social justice in education.

Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin 2012:  Amicus Brief Brings Education Research to Bear in Major Affirmative Action Case.

Parents Involved in Community Schools v. Seattle School District No. 1 and Meredith v. Jefferson County Board of Education 2006: Both cases, ruled on jointly by the Supreme Court, focused on district policies encouraging integration that allowed for race to be used as a “tiebreaker” for public choice of high schools in Seattle and as a factor in determining elementary school assignments in Louisville.

Grutter v. Bollinger 2003: Challenge of University of Michigan Law School admissions policy that the plaintiff unsuccessfully argued gave applicants from underrepresented minority groups a greater likelihood of being accepted than white applicants.

Gratz v. Bollinger 2003: Challenge of University of Michigan undergraduate admissions policy that allocated a certain number of points to applicants from underrepresented minority groups.”

More via Linking Research to Public Interest.

Filed under: access to education, Blogosphere, consumers, Education Policy, Education Reform, Parenting, Public Policy

In U.S., 14% of Those Aged 24 to 34 Are Living With Parents

Has the great experiment of the 1960s failed?  Has the GI Bill, Community Colleges and the broadening of educational and economic opportunity that worked for the baby boomers failed for their children?

According to the Gallup organization, an alarming 14% of young people today are living at home with their parents.

“Fourteen percent of adults between the ages of 24 and 34 — those in the post-college years when most young adults are trying to establish independence — report living at home with their parents. By contrast, roughly half of 18- to 23-year-olds, many of whom are still finishing their education, are currently living at home.”

Just in terms of your current circumstances, are you currently living at home with your parents, or not? August-December 2013 results

More via In U.S., 14% of Those Aged 24 to 34 Are Living With Parents.

Filed under: Blogosphere, Culture Think, Data Trends - American Demographics and Public Opinion, Demographic Change, Parenting

6 new facts about Facebook | Pew Research Center

Facebook is a part of our lives, one way or another…   Even after the NSA scandal and everyone’s consideration of us having a “BIG BROTHER” problem, today’s youth continue to pour out their (and one might say their family’s) laundry and often their most intimate thoughts and wants onto the public face of the omnipresent computer screen.

The Pew Foundation offers an interesting article delineating 6 important insights we should all be aware of about Facebook and how it is impacting all things social in our lives…

“Facebook turns 10 tomorrow and reaches that milestone as the dominant social networking platform, used by 57% of all American adults and 73% of all those ages 12-17.  Adult Facebook use is intensifying: 64% of Facebook users visit the site on a daily basis, up from 51% of users who were daily users in 2010. Among teens, the total number of users remains high, according to Pew Research Center surveys, and they are not abandoning the site. But focus group interviews suggest that teens’ relationship with Facebook is complicated and may be evolving.”

More via 6 new facts about Facebook | Pew Research Center.

Filed under: analytics, Big Data and Big Government, Blogosphere, Changing Media Paradigm, consumers, Culture Think, News, Parenting

The Middle Class Is Steadily Eroding. Just Ask the Business World. – NYTimes.com

The business world is always selling us something.  And thank God!  

Buying and selling is a huge part of our culture.  Measuring the value of what we own and what that means to us and those around us is also central to our social experience and identity.  America is about progress and the pursuit of happiness is at its very essence; we must always strive to have things and be places.  Understanding our place in the American social hierarchy  may not be as simple as counting our possessions though.  We are all Americans but we are not all equal–not even close.  Being an American is real.  But what about the so called “Middle Class”?  Have you seen it?  Do you possess a piece of it?  Are you standing in it?  If you can make a good argument that you are in it, will your children share as lofty an address?

Today’s NYTs clamors about yet another elusive metaphor that we have lived by: The Middle Class.  Illusive and metaphor because we cannot be sure if it really ever existed, at least not in all its Hollywood and public media glory.  Like the nuclear family propelled and burned into the public mind by popular TV shows like “Father Knows Best,” the middle class is a very inclusive category which most Americans strive to get into;  and yet another very important segment labors to stay above and beyond it (including today’s infamous top 1%).

For hundreds of years the extended family and agrarian life dominated gender relations, work, time and leisure.    The modern middle class and Levittowns (Levittown was the first suburb and is considered the “archetype” for America’s suburbs America’s.) are an economic creation buttressed by Hollywood and Madison Avenue cultures.  The Nuclear family of “Mom, DAD and Children,” can be similarly understood as an ideal.   Nevertheless, in perhaps a nostalgic way, today’s popular media considers the Middle Class in danger of disappearing, if nothing else, from our imaginations.  In historical terms the middle class was here for about a relative minute.  Gone so soon?

“In Manhattan, the upscale clothing retailer Barneys will replace the bankrupt discounter Loehmann’s, whose Chelsea store closes in a few weeks. Across the country, Olive Garden and Red Lobster restaurants are struggling, while fine-dining chains like Capital Grille are thriving. And at General Electric, the increase in demand for high-end dishwashers and refrigerators dwarfs sales growth of mass-market models.”

via The Middle Class Is Steadily Eroding. Just Ask the Business World. – NYTimes.com.

Filed under: access to education, Blogosphere, Children and Poverty, consumers, Culture Think, Data Trends - American Demographics and Public Opinion, Demographic Change, Economic Recession, Economic Recovery, Education Policy, Education Reform, New American Electorate, News, Parenting, Philanthropy, Policy ThinkShop Comments on other media platforms, Political Economy, propaganda and spin, Public Policy, WeSeeReason

Your kid got “As” and you did all you could possibly do to ensure their success… But Jr. is still dependent on you and you are trying to prepare to retire and rest? How can this be???

The National Center for Education Statistics is following the young.  It is doing so for very important reasons.  What becomes of America’s youth post educational experience?

This query is significant for most today because the recent deep and lingering recession has shaken many of the tenets families have long taken for granted: Go to college, do well, graduate, marry well, do well…  This “fairy tale” may no longer be the case for a significant number of young adults.  This is especially troubling for baby boomer parents who have experience a lifetime of social mobility and progress.  As the baby boomers age, they are increasingly troubled by an unexpected contradiction in today’s economy:  you may have done all the rights things and your parents may have done their very best, and you are still not ready for success years after you left your university cocoon.

The Policy ThinkShop invites you to read and comment on the following report by the National Center for Education Statistics so that you can help us give perspective to the growing debate addressing the inadequacies of our educational system as these relate to the emerging labor market.

Full Report courtesy of The Policy ThinkShop: http://nces.ed.gov/pubs2014/2014363.pdf

“The Education Longitudinal Study of 2002 (ELS:2002) tracks the educational and developmental experiences of a nationally representative sample of high school sophomores in the United States.1 This First Look report provides a descriptive portrait of these 2002 tenth-graders a decade later, when most were about 26 years old and had been out of high school for 8 years. In so doing, this report draws heavily on information collected during the 2012 third follow-up data collection.2 By this time, many members of the cohort had already completed postsecondary education, started or even changed careers, and started to form families.”

More via: http://nces.ed.gov/pubsearch/pubsinfo.asp?pubid=2014363

Full report at: http://nces.ed.gov/pubs2014/2014363.pdf

Filed under: access to education, Aging, Blogosphere, Culture Think, Data Trends - American Demographics and Public Opinion, Demographic Change, Economic Recession, Economic Recovery, Education Policy, Education Reform, News, Parenting

Many Baby Boomers Reluctant to Retire

If you are 50 years or older this year, you are a baby boomer.  You are part of the largest generation and you and your demographic cohort have been making waves and will continue to do so well past mid century into the 2050s.   Ironically, the baby boomers made much of their generational ruckus by not getting along with their parents and the lifestyle given to them by those parents which they proceeded to tear asunder.  Well, it appears that the boomers are at it once again, making waves, changing the lifestyle of previous “Seniors” and once again creating a conflict between the old and the young… This time it is the boomers who are the elders and, once again, they are in conflict—this time with the generation behind them.  They are refusing to leave a job market that has already been quite harsh to the generations behind the boomers ….

“True to their \”live to work\” reputation, some baby boomers are digging in their heels at the workplace as they approach the traditional retirement age of 65. While the average age at which U.S. retirees say they retired has risen steadily from 57 to 61 in the past two decades, boomers — the youngest of whom will turn 50 this year — will likely extend it even further. Nearly half (49%) of boomers still working say they don\’t expect to retire until they are 66 or …”

More via Many Baby Boomers Reluctant to Retire.

Filed under: Aging, Blogosphere, Data Trends - American Demographics and Public Opinion, Demographic Change, Job Sector, News, Parenting

Deciding Who Sees Students’ Data – NYTimes.com

Communication and information have been important drivers of civil society, as groups, individuals and even nation states are able to use what they know and what they share with others to improve important aspects of social relationships in areas like public relations, collaboration, mutual understanding, trust building and the ability of individuals to express and assert their social needs and civil rights.  As more and more information is being collected on all aspects of our daily lives and that information is accessed by third parties for purposes not necessarily related to the initial rationale for which the information was gathered in the first place, issues arise regarding the use of that information and how that use impacts an individual’s freedoms and rights; such as:

  • Privacy
  • Ownership of personal information
  • Access to information
  • Ability to explain and defend ones rights or needs with your own information that reflects your ability to determine and express yourself.

Information that is collected on us increasingly impacts our health, privacy, political freedom and economic opportunities as various parties know more about us than we often know about ourselves and/or interpret information about us that is collected, understood and explained by others.

Our optimism regarding technological progress in the area of information technology, knowledge management and the social narrative others have about our identity is increasingly being questioned.  The NYTs has a provocative article on how information impacts the educational system which is so often decisive in the lives of our children, friends and family members.

“WHEN Cynthia Stevenson, the superintendent of Jefferson County, Colo., public schools, heard about a data repository called inBloom, she thought it sounded like a technological fix for one of her bigger headaches. Over the years, the Jeffco school system, as it is known, which lies west of Denver, had invested in a couple of dozen student data systems, many of which were …”

More via Deciding Who Sees Students’ Data – NYTimes.com.

Filed under: access to education, analytics, Big Data and Big Government, Blogosphere, consumers, Education Policy, Education Reform, Health Policy, Healthcare Reform, News, Parenting, Public Policy, Technology and You, Technology Trends

Working hours: Get a life | The Economist

Of work, time and leisure…   The relationship between income and how long or hard we work may not be as obvious as one might think.  In these tough economic times it seems more and more difficult to make ends meet for many and the uncertainty in today’s economy may keep many working more and more hours “just in case”.

The Economist touches on this topic… even as we Americans struggle to understand what it is we have to do to ensure a decent living and a decent future for our kids…

BERTRAND RUSSELL, the English philosopher, was not a fan of work. In his 1932 essay, “In Praise of Idleness”, he reckoned that if society were better managed the average person would only need to work four hours a day. Such a small working day would “entitle a man to the necessities and elementary comforts of life.” The rest of the day could be devoted to the pursuit of

via Working hours: Get a life | The Economist.

Filed under: Blogosphere, Economic Recession, Economic Recovery, News, Parenting

CVS cuts access to opioid pain-killers for suspect doctors | Reuters

In a society where drugs have been demeaned as too expensive or dangerous substances that cause addiction and ruin lives, it is big news when a major drug distributor like CVS announces that they are going to address the illegal and destructive distribution of pain-killers by targeting physicians that fall outside any reasonable nor for prescribing these highly addictive substances.

“CVS Caremark Corp said on Wednesday that it has taken the unusual step of cutting off access to powerful pain-killers for more than 36 doctors and other healthcare providers found to prescribe the drugs at an alarmingly …”

via CVS cuts access to opioid pain-killers for suspect doctors | Reuters.

Filed under: Behavioral Health Outcomes, Blogosphere, consumers, Health Literacy, Health Policy, Healthcare Reform, News, Parenting, ,

Best Apps For College Students

If you know a young person going to or in college don’t miss the following resource brought to you by the folks at the Policy ThinkShop…

“College may be a blast, but it certainly doesn’t come without its stressors. Whether you’re anxious about money matters, cafeteria food, or a heavy workload, we’ve rounded up the best apps to help you manage it all. From cooking to note-taking, …”

More via  Best Apps For College Students.

Filed under: access to education, Blogosphere, Changing Media Paradigm, consumers, News, Parenting, Policy ThinkShop Comments on other media platforms, Social Media, Teacher Power, , , , ,

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