China-Pakistan Partnership, Media Literacy, Incarcerated Parents: RAND Weekly Recap

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September 24, 2021

This week, we discuss the China-Pakistan partnership in light of the Taliban's rise to power, media literacy education, COVID-19 on U.S. Navy ships, parenting from prison, preventing veteran suicides, and a reimagined workforce development system.

Taliban flags are seen on a street in Kabul, Afghanistan, September 16, 2021, photo by West Asia News Agency via Reuters

Photo by West Asia News Agency via Reuters

Taliban May Test China-Pakistan Partnership

Both China and Pakistan have welcomed the Taliban back to power. The two countries share a long history of cooperation and have much in common on Afghanistan policy. They also have a mutual adversary—India—and stand to benefit from the Taliban's success.

But counterterrorism could be an area of contention, says RAND's Derek Grossman. Islamabad's selective pursuit of only some terrorists may misalign with Beijing's efforts to counter all terrorists who seek to harm Chinese economic interests in Pakistan, as well as separatists who could destabilize China's Xinjiang region from across the border. If the Taliban allow Afghanistan to become a platform for international terrorism, then the Chinese-Pakistani relationship will be tested more than ever.

Teacher Mary Yi works with fourth-grade students at the Sokolowski School in Chelsea, Massachusetts, September 15, 2021, photo by Brian Snyder/Reuters

Teacher Mary Yi works with fourth-grade students at the Sokolowski School in Chelsea, Massachusetts, September 15, 2021.

Photo by Brian Snyder/Reuters

Approaches to Media Literacy Education Vary, and Obstacles Are Common

Media literacy education is an essential tool to help counter Truth Decay, the diminishing role of facts and analysis in American public life. A new RAND survey of K–12 public school teachers finds that most schools are addressing media literacy in some manner. But this appears to be happening on a classroom-by-classroom basis instead of being directed by school, district, or state leadership. Most teachers reported a lack of training and resources. The survey also indicates that media literacy education varies across schools of different ethnic compositions and poverty levels.

Seabees coordinate transportation of sailors assigned to the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt who have tested negative for COVID-19 from Naval Base Guam to military-approved commercial lodging, in Guam, April 3, 2020, photo by MC Matthew R. White/U.S. Navy via Reuters

Seabees coordinate transportation of USS Theodore Roosevelt sailors who tested negative for COVID-19, April 3, 2020.

Photo by MC Matthew R. White/U.S. Navy via Reuters

Lessons from COVID-19 Infections on Navy Ships

In the early months of the pandemic, the U.S. Navy scrambled to prevent COVID-19 from spreading through the close quarters of its ships. The Navy's handling of the high-profile outbreak on the USS Theodore Roosevelt revealed some cracks in the service's readiness to respond to major medical events. A new RAND report examines these shortfalls and considers other possible emergencies that could occur aboard a ship, such as mass-casualty events or the need for large-scale trauma care.

Donte, 34, reads a book with his two daughters during a visit at San Quentin State Prison, June 8, 2012, photo by Lucy Nicholson/Reuters

Donte, 34, reads a book with his two daughters during a visit at San Quentin State Prison, June 8, 2012.

Photo by Lucy Nicholson/Reuters

Incarcerated Parents: A Forgotten Population

Mass incarceration has contributed to significant, harmful, and lasting racial and class disparities in America's prisons. The result? One in 10 Black children in the United States has an incarcerated parent. In a new Q&A, part of an ongoing series of conversations with RAND president and CEO Michael Rich, researchers Dionne Barnes-Proby, Celia Gomez, and Monica Williams discuss their study of what can be done to better support these parents and, in turn, improve the well-being of their children and families.

Veteran Jane DeGreef put up a display along Wilkshire Circle SW in North Canton, Ohio, to raise awareness of veteran suicide, September 17, 2021, photo by Julie Vennitti Botos/USA Today via Reuters

A display in North Canton, Ohio, aims to raise awareness of veteran suicide, September 17, 2021.

Photo by Julie Vennitti Botos/USA Today via Reuters

How to Prevent Veteran Suicides

The United States needs greater investment in data and science to develop solutions that prevent veteran suicides. That's according to RAND's Rajeev Ramchand, who testified Wednesday before the House Veterans' Affairs Committee. For example, 69 percent of veterans who died by suicide in 2019 used a firearm. Collecting better and more-comprehensive data on veteran gun ownership and storage could save lives, says Ramchand. He also recommends improving the national mortality data infrastructure, using data to better understand veterans' health care experiences outside the VA, and encouraging the collection of data on suicide when testing new and promising mental health treatments.

An illustration visualizing a new 21st century workforce development system, artwork by Morcos Key

A visualization of a reimagined workforce development system in which the open spiral is a metaphor for the journey that unfolds throughout one's life.

Artwork by Morcos Key

A Reimagined Workforce Development System for the 21st Century

The second artist-in-residence in RAND's Art + Data program is Morcos Key, a Brooklyn-based design studio. The designers—Wael Morcos and Jon Key—created an animated illustration of a reimagined workforce development system based on RAND research. The study pinpoints the ways in which the U.S. workforce development and employment system is failing many, and envisions how educators, employers, workers, and other stakeholders can rebuild it to bring about a much-needed transformation.

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