21 July 2009

Gauging interest in the IB charter school

We're pretty excited here to have received funding for the International Baccalaureate regional charter school. But we'd like to know more about how you see this effort. Specifically, we'd like to know if there are individuals with school-age children or soon-to-be school-age children that would consider enrolling their kids in a future York IB school. Remember: This school would create classrooms with a mix of students from the city and the suburbs, hopefully offsetting the negative effects of classrooms filled with overwhelmingly poor children. And it would represent an attempt to make available a high-quality public education to parents all around York County.

Tell us what you think in a comment, and if you're comfortable, leave your name and e-mail address.

- Dan Fink

16 July 2009

Learning from Lancaster

Keystone Edge, which describes itself as a Web site that "tells the story of the new economy in Pennsylvania," had a cover story last week detailing Lancaster's revival. I saw four things they've done that York might think about as our city continues its redevelopment efforts.

1. Forge partnerships. In Lancaster, Franklin and Marshall College and the James Street Improvement District remade an entire quadrant of the city. The YWCA showed that kind of collaborative spirit with its Renaissance Project. On York's south side, York College could team up with Crispus Attucks or a revived South George Street Community Partnership to expand the improvements that have happened there.

2. Use arts and culture. With its Artist Homestead Program, York already recognizes the potential of the arts community for improving the quality of life in the city. The Cultural Alliance, the Strand and the Heritage Trust seem like logical candidates to continue the work.

3. Promote the city lifestyle. Codo has taken the lead on this in its effort to attract young professionals. Somebody needs to think about ways to promote the city's great housing stock, its farmers markets, the developing restaurant scene and other amenities. See Lancaster City Living's approach.

4. Enhance and build on key resources. York doesn't have anything to compare with Lancaster's new convention center for attracting visitors. Hopefully, the study from Roger Brooks will go a long way in identifying the resources that do exist and figuring out how to use them to increase visitors to the downtown.

- Dan Fink

14 July 2009

A good read on health care

The conversation is heating up on health care reform. We'll be hearing lots of industry jargon in the next few months, especially about the so-called "public option." It will be difficult to stay on top of it all.

This recent article from the New Yorker is a good primer on how soaring health care costs are at the heart of the debate. The author, Atul Gawande, suggests that providers have undergone a subtle shift in the past 20 years, one that has created an environment of overuse. Unfortunately, more tests and more surgical procedures haven't produced better results, Gawande argues. They do make providers more profitable. And they drive up costs for insurers, consumers and the governmenet.

Doctors and hospitals, among others, disagree. Take a look and decide for yourself. Because a key point Gawande makes is that a lot of these high costs are local; they vary from one area to another based on the philosophy of the local system of providers. It made me wonder what the costs might look like if someone crunched numbers for York County the way Gawande did for the two towns in Texas in the article.

Are we more or less profit driven here? What would your guess be?

Update, 11:41 a.m. July 15: The U.S. House introduced comprehensive health care reform legislation this morning. Here's an analysis of the bill from the Congressional Budget Office. I'd love to hear somebody in the health care business take a whack at explaining the good and bad of this.

- Dan Fink

07 July 2009

Engaging the next generation

Biloxi, Miss., is taking a different approach to supporting its young people with after-school and other programs, one that mixes community involvement, the mapping capability of the Web and the resources of Public Agenda's Center for the Advancement of Public Engagement.

Mapping Assets for Biloxi's Youth project uses technology to plot on a map all of the programs and community "assets" that serve youth in the area. Public Agenda, which advsied Biloxi on the effort, said the list includes everything from "parks and breakdancing groups to youth ministries, scholarships and summer camps."
The project has its own Web site so people can report and describe the assets they've found, as well as comment and discuss things as they move forward. They'll reconvene in person on July 24th to see how many things they were able to find and start thinking about how to better coordinate Biloxi's strengths on behalf of children and teens.
Anybody else see the potential for doing something similar in York County? Services related to at-risk youth and their families come to mind first. How about jobs programs aimed at the unemployed and underemployed?

- Dan Fink