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School Reform, Sanctions, Russian Aggression: RAND Weekly Recap

April 19, 2019

This week, we discuss teachers' and principals' views on school reform; how economic sanctions are similar to carpet bombing; how much Medicare spending is devoted to primary care; deterring Russia in the Baltics; a holistic approach to the opioid crisis; and the U.S. designation of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as a terrorist organization.

Teachers talking in a classroom, photo by SolStock/Getty Images

Photo by SolStock/Getty Images

Teachers and Principals View School Reforms Differently

Many experts have noted a trend of school reform “churn.” New initiatives and programs are adopted, then dropped once a new reform emerges. A new RAND survey finds that teachers are much more likely to perceive school reform churn than principals. For example, 89 percent of principals said reform programs at their school had a sense of continuity. But only 56 percent of teachers agreed. Getting both parties on the same page could help lead to greater teacher buy-in and higher rates of program success.

Children walk as they hold stacks of bread at al-Hol displacement camp in Hasaka governorate, Syria, April 2, 2019, photo by Ali Hashisho/Reuters

Children walk as they hold stacks of bread at al-Hol displacement camp in Hasaka governorate, Syria, April 2, 2019

Photo by Ali Hashisho/Reuters

Economic Sanctions and Carpet Bombing Are Similarly Ruinous

Economic sanctions and carpet bombing have a lot in common, says RAND's James Dobbins. They are indiscriminate. They tend to disproportionately damage society's most vulnerable. And they seldom have the desired effect unless followed up with a military invasion. How can policymakers ensure sanctions don't inflict years of impoverishment or worse on entire populations? A first step is to ask whether sanctions are tied to an attainable objective.

Medicare payments summary with paperwork, photo by courtneyk/Getty Images

Photo by courtneyk/Getty Images

Medicare Spending: How Much Goes to Primary Care?

Primary care accounts for a small fraction of total Medicare spending. That's according to a new RAND study. The authors say these estimates are important, because directing the health system toward primary care is linked to higher-quality care, better outcomes, and lower costs. Notably, there is no consensus about the optimal share of medical spending that should be devoted to primary care. But our findings could serve as a reference point.

Flags of Estonia, Lithuania, and Latvia are raised in a ceremony outside the presidential palace in Vilnius, Lithuania, during the country's centenary celebration, February 16, 2018, photo by Birute/Getty Images

Flags of Estonia, Lithuania, and Latvia are raised in a ceremony outside the presidential palace in Vilnius, Lithuania, February 16, 2018

Photo by Birute/Getty Images

Deterring Russia in the Baltics

NATO's eastern flank is vulnerable to Russian intimidation and hybrid warfare. A new RAND report finds that unconventional defense plans could help deter and counteract this threat. This approach can complement the Baltic states' existing defense efforts, improve warning of impending attacks, and buy time for NATO to respond.

RAND physician policy researcher Tisamarie Sherry discusses the U.S. opioid crisis at a RAND event in Pittsburgh, April 10, 2019, photo by Michael Reed Photography

RAND's Tisamarie Sherry discusses her research on prescription opioid use and risky prescribing behaviors at an event in Pittsburgh, April 10, 2019

Photo by Michael Reed Photography

A Holistic Approach to Solving the Opioid Crisis

The opioid crisis is like an ecosystem, and addressing it will require a holistic approach. That's according to RAND experts. At a recent event in Pittsburgh, our researchers spoke at length about the crisis and how to stop it. They're studying the problem from several angles, striving to understand which solutions work and how to address unintended consequences of well-meaning policies. In particular, they discussed prescribing issues, heroin-assisted treatment, and taking advantage of primary care.

Members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Navy march during a parade in Tehran, Iran, September 22, 2011, photo by Stringer Iran/Reuters

Members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Navy march during a parade in Tehran, September 22, 2011

Photo by Stringer Iran/Reuters

The U.S. Says Iran's IRGC Is a Terrorist Group. Now What?

Last week, U.S. officials designated Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps a foreign terrorist organization. This decision wasn't entirely unjustified, say RAND experts. But the administration seems not to have considered the many ways that Tehran can retaliate. Thus, the move may increase the likelihood of a tit-for-tat escalation with Iran that could result in broader regional strife.

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