Civic Education, Twitter's Bot Problem, Police Reform: RAND Weekly Recap


RAND Weekly Recap

September 30, 2022

This week, we discuss how public school teachers view civic and citizenship education; understanding Russia's coercive signaling toward the West; what China is doing in the Arctic; why Twitter hasn't gotten rid of bot accounts; community engagement and police reform; and warming ties between India and Pakistan.

Photo by Antonio Perez/Chicago Tribune via Reuters

Civic Education in U.S. Public Schools

Recent events such as nationwide protests against racism and attempts to delegitimize the 2020 presidential election have renewed attention to the role that public schools play in preparing youth to engage in civic life. A RAND survey conducted late last year examines one important question related to this issue: How do America's teachers approach civic and citizenship education?

Here's an overview of the findings:

  • The responses suggest that civic and citizenship education is often siloed into specific subjects, such as social science. (Only a quarter of teachers reported that civics is integrated into all subjects or is a part of the whole school experience.)
  • Elementary teachers were more likely than secondary teachers to say that civic and citizenship education is integrated into all subjects.
  • When we asked teachers to identify the most important aims of civic and citizenship education, these three came out on top: promoting critical and independent thinking, developing conflict-resolution skills, and promoting knowledge of citizens' rights and responsibilities.

Understanding how civic and citizenship education is currently provided in public schools could help lay the groundwork for broader understanding of how such instruction helps kids navigate the world. And that might make a difference in confronting some of the biggest challenges facing society.

A Russian Sukhoi Su-24 attack aircraft makes a very low-altitude pass by USS Donald Cook, April 12, 2016

Photo by U.S. Navy

Understanding Russia's Coercive Signaling

Russia regularly uses limited military actions—which fall short of direct aggression but create escalatory risks—toward the United States and its treaty allies. A RAND analysis conducted before Moscow's large-scale invasion of Ukraine in February examines these behaviors over recent years. As tensions between Russia and the West peak, the findings may help decisionmakers better understand what drives the Kremlin's behavior and establish guidelines for assessing it in the future.

Billionaire Elon Musk and Twitter are in a legal battle over Musk's bid to buy the social media company. The issue of bot accounts has been a sticking point

Billionaire Elon Musk and Twitter are in a legal battle over Musk's bid to buy the social media company. The issue of bot accounts has been a sticking point.

Photo by Dado Ruvic/Reuters

Twitter's Bot Problem

Why has Twitter struggled to get rid of bots? One reason, says RAND's Marek Posard, is that social media companies are not incentivized to look closely at inauthentic accounts. Third-party auditors and independent researchers could help by providing estimates of active users on various platforms. This would improve transparency about who is actually a real person on social media, helping inform decisions by investors, advertisers, and policymakers.

Members of China's research team set up a float to take measurements of the Arctic Ocean near the icebreaker Xuelong, August 18, 2016

Photo by Wu Yue/Xinhua/Alamy

What's China Doing in the Arctic?

China is not an Arctic country but has become a notable player in the region. A new RAND report examines Beijing's activities and ambitions in the Arctic—and considers the potential risks. The authors conclude that Chinese investments and presence in the North American Arctic remain fairly limited. This is not for lack of trying on Beijing's part. Rather, U.S., Danish, and Canadian efforts to block and restrict China have been successful.

Photo by wildpixel/Getty Images

Community Engagement Is Key to Police Reform

Policing outcomes and residents' views on policing differ greatly by neighborhood and are often associated with race and ethnicity. According to RAND's Elicia John, this suggests that a one-size-fits-all approach to police reform is likely to fail. Instead, solutions should focus on community engagement. This approach stands to benefit everyone, in every neighborhood, because it results in interventions that are more effective and sustainable.

Indian Border Security Forces and Pakistan Rangers shake hands at the India-Pakistan Wagah Border in Amritsar, India, August 15, 2022

Photo by Sameer Sehgal/Hindustan Times/Sipa USA/Reuters

India-Pakistan Ties Are Warming. Will It Last?

As recently as February 2019, India and Pakistan were bracing for war. Since then, ties between the two countries have been on the mend. This trend is encouraging, says RAND's Derek Grossman, but it makes sense to “keep a healthy check on expectations.” Despite their thawing relationship, neither India nor Pakistan has fundamentally changed its threat perception of the other, he says.

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