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July 5, 2019

DMZ Meeting, Students with Disabilities, Iran: RAND Weekly Recap

This week, we discuss U.S.-North Korea relations; supporting students with disabilities; inequity in Pittsburgh; truth in journalism; the flawed logic of a proportional response in Iran; and how citizen scientists can help their communities.

U.S. President Donald Trump meets with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un at the demilitarized zone (DMZ) that separates the two Koreas, Panmunjom, South Korea, June 30, 2019, photo by Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

President Donald Trump meets with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un at the demilitarized zone that separates the two Koreas, June 30, 2019

Photo by Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

Trump and Kim Met at the DMZ. What Happens Next?

President Donald Trump met North Korean leader Kim Jong Un at the Demilitarized Zone this past weekend, becoming the first sitting U.S. head of state to set foot in the hermit kingdom.

There are hopes that this brief meeting could lead to further negotiations. But the success of any future talks depends on whether Kim will actually take some action toward denuclearizing (rather than just talking about it). That's according to RAND's Bruce Bennett. Trump could ask Kim to start by surrendering just one nuclear weapon. If Kim complies, it would demonstrate that the regime is ready to take denuclearization seriously.

A teacher helping students draw with colored pencils, photo by Jack F/Adobe Stock

Photo by Jack F/Adobe Stock

Supporting Students with Disabilities

Do students with high-incidence disabilities, such as high-functioning autism and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, receive effective instruction? The answer depends, in large part, on whether educators have what they need. A new RAND survey provides some insights. Most teachers say that their schools have a culture of “shared responsibility” for serving students with disabilities. But many want more access to relevant training, resources, planning time, and student data.

Men on different ladders to illustrate inequity in Pittsburgh, Pa., illustrations by hyejin kang and teddyandmia/Getty Images; design by Chara Williams/RAND Corporation

Illustrations by hyejin kang and teddyandmia/Getty Images; design by Chara Williams/RAND Corporation

How Pittsburgh Is Addressing Social and Economic Disparities

RAND researchers have been working with officials in Pittsburgh to examine inequities among the city's residents. For example, being black in Pittsburgh means bringing home less than half as much pay as a white person. It also means seeing your children hospitalized with asthma four times more often. By understanding more about who's being left behind—and how they're being left behind—the city can begin to address the root drivers of inequity.

Senior political scientist Jennifer Kavanagh discusses Truth Decay at RAND's headquarters in Santa Monica, California, May 24, 2018, photo by Diane Baldwin/RAND Corporation

Senior political scientist Jennifer Kavanagh discusses Truth Decay at RAND's headquarters in Santa Monica, California, May 24, 2018

Photo by Diane Baldwin/RAND Corporation

Searching for Truth with RAND's Jennifer Kavanagh

Jennifer Kavanagh helps lead RAND's research on “Truth Decay,” the diminishing role of facts and analysis in American public life. In a new Q&A, she discusses her most recent study, a quantitative analysis of how U.S. journalism has changed over time. Measuring shifts in the information environment is key to understanding the evolution of Truth Decay, she says. The next step is figuring out what to do about it.

The purported wreckage of an American drone is seen displayed by the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) in Tehran, Iran, June 21, 2019, photo by Meghdad Madadi/Tasnim News Agency via Reuters

The purported wreckage of a U.S. drone is displayed by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, Tehran, Iran, June 21, 2019

Photo by Meghdad Madadi/Tasnim News Agency via Reuters

The Flawed Logic of a Proportional Response

After Iran shot down a U.S. drone, President Trump approved a retaliatory strike. He then called the attack off, saying it was “not proportionate.” There is a long list of reasons to avoid conflict with Iran. But proportionality isn't one of them, says RAND's Raphael Cohen. That's because proportional responses are not likely to solve anything. Instead, they may demonstrate that Washington is more interested in the appearance, rather than reality, of action.

People working together to implement an idea, illustration by VectorMine/Adobe Stock

Illustration by VectorMine/Adobe Stock

What Can Citizen Science Do?

Citizen science is the use of scientific methods by the general public to ask and answer questions and solve problems. A new RAND report examines the potential of this concept. There are a few key challenges, such as enhancing the credibility of research and overcoming technology obstacles. But overall, citizen science is a promising way to conduct research that can help improve health and well-being. This approach may be particularly valuable for disaster preparedness.

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