Roadmaps for Rough Terrains
PHOTO BY DIANE BALDWIN
All of the feature stories in this issue plot paths toward resolving nettlesome policy problems that have been matters of intense debate in recent months. There are no quick solutions to these problems, but the authors chart courses toward eventual resolutions.
Our cover story on the promotion of tolerance and critical thinking among Arab children comes in the wake of violent anti-American protests that swept the Arab and Muslim worlds in 2012 in response to one irresponsible individual's posting of an offensive YouTube video mocking the founder of Islam. The offense taken was understandable. But the failure of protesters to differentiate between the individual and his country of residence was not. Events such as these underscore the importance of the work being done by RAND's Gail Zellman and Jeffrey Martini and the University of Toronto's Michal Perlman to identify and disseminate indigenous Arabic-language materials that promote respect for the "other" within the Arab world and beyond.
Our trio of articles on defense in an age of austerity outlines the strategic and financial alternatives that NATO and U.S. military forces should weigh as they strive to uphold high levels of security while cutting hundreds of billions of dollars from defense budgets over the next decade. Trade-offs must be made. Risks must be taken. Stephen Larrabee, Lynn Davis, Stuart Johnson, and Irv Blickstein keep the discussion focused on the strategic priorities while recognizing the budgetary realities.
School districts across America have been experimenting, not always amicably, with new statistical techniques to measure teacher effectiveness. Jennifer Steele, Laura Hamilton, and Brian Stecher acknowledge that no single measure of effectiveness is impervious to error but emphasize the potential of using multiple measurements in concert, as when districts have incorporated the new techniques into comprehensive evaluation systems that can be fairer for teachers and students alike.
The complexity of these problems defies pat answers. But the suggested approaches for overcoming them, as outlined in this RAND Review, offer deliberate, purposeful, and adaptable roadmaps for policymakers in the United States, Europe, and the Middle East.