Stress Among U.S. Teachers, Russia's Global Interests, Investing in Equity: RAND Weekly Recap

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June 18, 2021

We discuss how job-related stress is threatening America's supply of teachers; confronting a more globally active Russia; whether France is ready for a hypothetical war in Europe; how investing in America’s infrastructure could help to address social inequities; the power of invention—and diversity and inclusion; and whether the United States can limit instability in fragile states.

A stressed teacher sitting at her desk looking at a laptop, photo by Lightfield Studios/Adobe Stock

Photo by Lightfield Studios/Adobe Stock

Job-Related Stress Threatens America's Supply of Teachers

Teaching has always been a stressful occupation, but the pandemic brought new challenges. In January and February, we surveyed U.S. public school teachers to better understand their job-related stress and overall well-being in the COVID-19 era.

Here's a recap of what we learned:

  • Nearly one in four teachers said that they were likely to leave their job by the end of the 2020-21 school year. That's compared with one in six who were likely to leave prior to the pandemic.
  • Black or African American teachers were especially likely to plan to leave the profession.
  • A much higher proportion of teachers reported frequent job-related stress and symptoms of depression than the general adult population.
  • One in three teachers were responsible for caring for their own children while teaching.

Given that some pandemic-related stressors, such as remote teaching, might be here to stay, RAND researchers recommend that district and school leaders try to better understand teachers' working conditions and the need for a more supportive and flexible work environment. Additionally, schools could consider implementing COVID-19 mitigation measures in a way that allows teachers to focus on instruction and offset worries about their health.

Russian President Putin addresses the audience during Moscow City Day celebrations in Moscow, Russia, September 5, 2020, photo by Sputnik/Alexei Druzhinin/Kremlin via Reuters

Putin addresses the audience during Moscow City Day celebrations, September 5, 2020

Photo by Sputnik/Alexei Druzhinin/Kremlin via Reuters

Confronting a More Globally Active Russia

This week, U.S. President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin met to discuss growing tensions between their two countries. A recent RAND paper takes a broader look at the U.S.-Russia relationship, examining Russia's efforts over the last 25 years to reestablish its great-power status. According to the authors, recognizing the global interests of Russia's political and military leaders can help U.S. policymakers implement their global strategy. But it's important to focus on areas that are the highest priority for the United States.

U.S. and French soldiers at the Joint Multinational Readiness Center in Hohenfels, Germany, March 2017, photo by U.S. Army

U.S. and French soldiers at the Joint Multinational Readiness Center in Hohenfels, Germany, March 2017

Photo by U.S. Army

France Is Ready for War, but Not a Long One

The French military is one of Western Europe's most capable. What role might it play in a hypothetical U.S.-led war effort in Eastern Europe? A new RAND report concludes that the French military—with its full-spectrum capabilities and training, ambitious modernization objectives, and strong political and public backing—could support a war effort now or in the next 10 years. However, it could not sustain a long campaign.

President Joe Biden speaks with Smith Flooring owners James and Kristin Smith at an event highlighting the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Act in Chester, Pennsylvania, March 16, 2021, photo by Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

President Biden speaks with business owners at an event for the American Rescue Plan, Chester, Pennsylvania, March 16, 2021

Photo by Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

Promoting Social Equity in Infrastructure Investments

The American Jobs Plan and the American Families Plan propose to tackle social inequities through infrastructure, workforce, education, and child care investments. According to RAND experts, these targeted investments may be necessary to redress historic inequities that exist by race and gender. But a thoughtful process can help ensure that funds are distributed in a fair manner and are used in ways that lead to equitable outcomes.

Science teacher explaining rules and formulas in physics and mechanics to a student at a blackboard, photo by LanaStock/Getty Images

Photo by LanaStock/Getty Images

The Power of Invention—and the Value of Diversity and Inclusion

The Lemelson-MIT prize is an annual award given to a mid-career inventor who has changed the world. RAND researchers recently measured the impact that prize winners have had: what markets they moved, how many jobs they created, and the subsequent patents that built on their ideas. Perhaps even more importantly, the researchers found that encouraging more women, minorities, and people from lower-income families to become inventors could be a very smart investment.

The colors are retired during a ceremony marking the end of the U.S. mission in Iraq in Baghdad on December 15, 2011, photo by Erin A. Kirk-Cuomo/U.S. Department of Defense

The colors are retired during a ceremony marking the end of the U.S. mission in Iraq, Baghdad, December 15, 2011

Photo by Erin A. Kirk-Cuomo/U.S. Department of Defense

Can the U.S. Limit Instability in Fragile States?

Recent U.S. experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan highlight the difficulties of stabilizing countries after conflicts. But according to new RAND research, under the right circumstances, the United States can help secure at least partial reforms in fragile states. In many cases, this has been achieved by buying time and local political support as part of a longer-term stabilization process. To be successful, it's important for American and partner interests to align. And when they don't, strong U.S. leverage is key.

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