This week, we discuss what educators think about politicized topics in school; the case for cautious optimism in Ukraine; the implications of Russia's declining profile in space; protecting against attacks from quantum computers; the intersection of racism and patient safety in health care; and hypothetical scenarios of a U.S.-China conflict.
A RAND survey fielded in January examined how two often-politicized topics—the implementation of COVID-19 safety measures and classroom conversations about race, racism, or bias—have affected educators' well-being, instructional practices, and more.
Here are a few key takeaways:
- Nearly half of U.S. principals and teachers said that the intrusion of political issues and opinions into their professions was a job-related stressor.
- One-quarter of teachers surveyed reported having been directed to limit classroom conversations about political and social issues.
- Many educators we surveyed—37 percent of teachers and 61 percent of principals—reported experiencing harassment related to their school's COVID-19 safety policies or classroom policies about race and racism during the first half of the 2021–2022 school year.
Our findings suggest that educators need more support managing politicized issues in their schools and classrooms. This could include clearer communication from leadership and increased support from preparation programs and in-service professional learning.
Six months into Russia's war with Ukraine, where is the conflict headed? According to RAND experts, the outcome of the war is by no means clear, but the balance of military equipment, personnel, and willpower points toward a Ukrainian victory. “Although Ukraine is unlikely to throw Russia back to its borders any time soon,” they say, “the war will likely trend in Ukraine's favor in the coming months.” That is, however, only if the West does not “blink first” and move to pursue a negotiated settlement with Russia.
Russia recently announced it would pull out of the International Space Station program after 2024. As Russia's profile in space declines, it may pose security risks, say RAND experts. For one, Russia may now be less motivated to protect the low-Earth orbit environment from debris. And while it's unlikely that Moscow would specifically target the ISS in a conflict, Russia may now be less concerned about collateral damage to the ISS if it decides to attack other nearby satellites.
The National Institute for Standards and Technology recently selected new algorithms to establish a standard for post-quantum cryptography. To ensure these algorithms do their job—resist attacks from super-powerful quantum computers—RAND experts recommend holding a public hacking contest to identify potential weaknesses. Finding flaws in the algorithms before they are rolled out widely could help prevent more costly cybersecurity breaks in the future.
Patient safety events in health care settings—such as medical errors, diagnostic errors, and preventable injuries—are understudied. But evidence suggests that these events vary across patients from different racial and ethnic backgrounds, and that minoritized patients are more likely to experience them. In a new report, researchers from RAND and MedStar Health examine this issue and provide recommendations to help improve patient safety and health equity.
Imagine this scenario: Sometime in the future, China has nearly reached the point of global primacy, and over many years, a low-intensity conflict unfolds across much of the world. Then, this low-intensity war evolves into a high-intensity war between the United States and China. In a new report, RAND researchers analyze how these hypothetical scenarios might unfold and consider the potential implications for U.S. security decisionmaking and defense planning.
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