Blog Posts and Commentaries

  • A teacher and a student presenting to class, photo by FatCamera/Getty Images

    Elevating Teacher Voices, Along with Their Salaries to Professionalize Teaching in Louisiana

    Sep 18, 2019

    Salary raises have a direct impact on teachers' day-to-day lives. But efforts like those in Louisiana to elevate teachers' voices, and not just their salaries, are more likely to make a real difference for the teaching profession by creating a clear career ladder. The state's efforts could also be cultivating a teaching force that is providing students with the curricula and instruction they need to achieve at higher levels.

  • A boy on a bicycle cools off from the extreme heat from an opened fire hydrant in Brooklyn, New York, July 2, 2018

    Triaging Climate Change

    Jan 23, 2019

    There are many opportunities to manage climate risk around the world, but not everything can be saved. Delaying triage of climate damages could leave societies making ad hoc decisions instead of focusing on protecting the things they value most.

  • Work crews on boats gather to clean marshland impacted by oil from the Deepwater Horizon spill in the Barataria Bay of Louisiana, June 17, 2010.

    Overlapping Environmental Disasters Put a Strain on Gulf Communities

    Nov 29, 2018

    For Gulf Coast residents, dealing with the impact of the Deepwater Horizon disaster is challenging enough. With the Taylor Energy spill, they may face an even more daunting recovery, one that could take decades. Acknowledging the extent and complexity of recovery is the first step toward supporting coastal communities to build their resilience in the face of overlapping disasters.

  • Teacher Darcy McKinnon teaches math to her seventh grade class at Samuel J. Green Charter School in New Orleans, Louisiana, February 22, 2006

    Louisiana's Education System Is Evolving: Here's What Parents Need to Know

    Sep 12, 2018

    Louisiana has taken big steps to improve its education policies and the education of the state's children, from birth to grade 12. Parents can help their children benefit from the reforms by being informed about the changes and knowing how to take advantage of new resources.

  • The Federal Emergency Management Agency Headquarters in Washington, U.S., October 5, 2016

    FEMA's Transformation

    Jun 8, 2018

    The Federal Emergency Management Agency's strategic plan shows several shifts in U.S. disaster relief policy. Redirecting longer-term recovery operations to state and local authorities would allow FEMA to concentrate its assets on the catastrophic disasters it is uniquely designed to handle.

  • The Colorado Aqueduct near the Iron Mountain Pumping Plant in Earp, California, April 16, 2015

    How Federal Policy Could Help Water and Wastewater Utilities

    Jan 16, 2018

    A targeted approach could help the federal government address the root causes of infrastructure problems more effectively than a spending initiative that simply spreads money around with the hope that more spending might do some good.

  • Communities are seen surrounded by water and wetlands in Plaquemines Parish, Louisiana, August 25, 2015

    Environmental Impact Bonds May Not Bear Fruit for Green Investors

    Nov 26, 2017

    Investors may be willing to accept a lower return for socially responsible investments, but are environmental impact bonds the best way to leverage these opportunities?

  • SFC Eladio Tirado, who is from Puerto Rico, speaks with residents as he helps during recovery efforts following Hurricane Maria, in San Lorenzo, Puerto Rico, October 7, 2017

    How to Rebuild After This Year's Hurricane Season? Invest in Resilience

    Nov 6, 2017

    Investing in resilience in an informed and systematic way can help a wide range of high-risk communities be better prepared for any future disasters.

  • A watercolor painting of a silhouette profile

    Is Suicide Preventable? Insights from Research

    May 8, 2017

    Conventional wisdom about suicide prevention suggests that one just needs to know what warning signs to look for. But that's not the case.

  • Houses in New Orleans, Louisiana

    Why Rents Have Gone Through the Roof in New Orleans and Across the Nation

    Aug 2, 2016

    The rental affordability crisis was caused by declining incomes since 2000, the slowing of new construction, households getting smaller, and the seven million foreclosures during the recession. It is a national problem in need of a national solution.

  • A senior airman working in defensive cyber operations at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs, Colorado

    Rather Than Fearing 'Cyber 9/11,' Prepare for 'Cyber Katrina'

    Mar 30, 2016

    In 2005, Hurricane Katrina represented a major test of the nation's post-9/11 disaster-response systems. Since that time, the United States has sought to improve those systems, but much more needs to be done in order to properly address the threat of a large-scale cyber attack.

  • Cars stranded in flood waters from Hurricane Irene in lower Manhattan, August 28, 2011

    Why Engineers Need to Be Thinking About Climate Change

    Feb 22, 2016

    As sea levels rise and extreme weather events become more common, evacuation routes in coastal areas will become more important. Transportation engineers need to be more proactive as they try to anticipate damage to pavement, bridges, and culverts.

  • The amphibious assault ship USS Wasp passes the guided-missile destroyers USS Cole and USS James E. Williams on its way to the pier in New Orleans, Louisiana

    Climate Change Is a National Security Issue, but Not for the Reasons You Think

    Dec 16, 2015

    All U.S. policy decisions can and should be guided by clear evidence. Climate change policy is no exception. The United States should focus on addressing the clearest vulnerabilities, such as securing coastal defense infrastructure.

  • A man applies a sticker which reads 100% electric next to the logo of the upcoming COP21 Climate Change Conference on a Nissan LEAF electric car in Boulogne-Billancourt, France, November 16, 2015

    COP 21 Not a Silver Bullet on Climate Change

    Nov 24, 2015

    The Paris climate conference cannot provide the engine that will drive a solution to the world's climate change challenge. Rather, it can best serve as a mediator that will help guide and structure the swirling, bottom-up process of radical change that is the best hope of preserving Earth's climate.

  • Global climate change visualization

    Adapting to a Hotter World

    Oct 2, 2015

    Because climate change is largely irreversible, mitigation alone won't solve the problem. While mitigation will prevent even greater, future climatic changes, adaptation — efforts to adjust to climate change's effects — will prepare the world for a new set of living conditions, whatever they may be.

  • Local residents take pictures as U.S. President Barack Obama visit an area reconstructed after Hurricane Katrina during a presidential visit to New Orleans, Louisiana, August 27, 2015

    What Hurricane Katrina Taught Us About Community Resilience

    Sep 8, 2015

    Hurricane Katrina left a path of destruction, death, and suffering in its wake. Its recovery, halting and incomplete as it has been, has taught us valuable lessons about resiliency.

  • Tourists walk past the entrance to the Hurricane Katrina Memorial, New Orleans, Louisiana, August 23, 2015

    Hurricane Katrina: 10 Years After the Storm

    Aug 27, 2015

    This weekend marks 10 years since Hurricane Katrina ravaged the Gulf Coast. As the region struggled to cope and rebuild after the storm, RAND experts worked on solutions to the region's long-term challenges.

  • Flood waters from Hurricane Isaac partially submerge homes in Lafitte, Louisiana neighborhoods in August 2012

    Future of Coastal Flooding

    Feb 25, 2015

    President Obama's executive order that directs federal agencies to plan and build for higher flood levels as they construct new projects in flood-prone regions will affect hundreds of billions of dollars of future public works projects. In an ideal world, planners would estimate the benefits and costs for each project, taking into account everything from the details of the local landscape to the potential for adaptive responses over time.

  • Workers remove oil-soaked grass from a marshland in Bay Jimmy, Louisiana, one year after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, April 2011

    New Research Consortium to Tackle Community Resilience in the Gulf Region

    Feb 17, 2015

    A new research group, the Consortium for Resilient Gulf Communities, will assess and address the public health, social, and economic impacts of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico region. It will focus on determining how communities can build resilience to future disasters.

  • woman carrying umbrella looking up at sky

    Weather Forecasts, and Our Trust in Them, Need to Improve

    Oct 8, 2013

    When scientists predict extreme weather that never materializes, lay people tend to wonder what went wrong. This is a natural tendency that is not tied to a failure of the science, but rather to differences in the way scientists and lay people view predictions about extreme events.

  • Oklahoma tornado cleanup

    Translating Policy Into Action to Build Community Resilience

    Sep 4, 2013

    The philosophy and motivation surrounding community resilience has strongly resonated with community leaders but there remains a divide between how experts articulate resilience policy and how that policy translates to on-the-ground implementation. Building Community Resilience: An Online Training addresses that tension.

  • President Obama delivers a speech on climate change on June 25, 2013

    RAND Experts on Obama's Climate Speech

    Jun 25, 2013

    While President Obama was delivering his speech on climate change at Georgetown University on June 25, some of RAND's energy policy experts were live-tweeting their thoughts on the president's proposals.

  • houses destroyed by Hurricane Sandy

    Planning for Superstorms, Wildfires, and Deep Uncertainty

    Apr 18, 2013

    The path to climate change preparedness should start at the intersection of resilience and robustness — that is, building resilient communities with the individuals and organizations within those communities making robust decisions, ones designed to work well over a wide range of ever-changing conditions.

  • Jordan Fischbach

    In Brief: Jordan R. Fischbach on Adapting to Climate Change on the Coast

    Feb 6, 2013

    In this video, Jordan Fischbach discusses how RAND helped Louisiana develop its 2012 Coastal Master Plan and key lessons that can make other communities more resilient in the face of natural disasters.

  • Morris Canal Park in New York City with portions flooded by Sandy's storm surge, at high tide.

    What Louisiana Can Teach New York and New Jersey

    Nov 9, 2012

    “Super Storm” Sandy has created a rare moment when New York City and surrounding areas are singularly focused on the infrastructure needed in a changing environment. It is a moment to look south at Louisiana.

  • Resilient Communities Audio Podcast

    Resilient Communities: Creating a Community of Practice

    Dec 12, 2011

    In this Resilient Communities podcast, Admiral Thad Allen discusses the critical questions confronting the field of community resilience as well as a new toolkit developed by RAND researchers to support community disaster planning.

  • How Faith-Based Organizations Frame HIV/AIDS Affects How they Convey Health Services

    Nov 30, 2011

    Faith-based organizations may frame HIV as punishment for sin, as a call to compassion, or as an opportunity for transformation. The frame affects the kinds of health services that these organizations provide, as well as the messages they convey about HIV to their congregations.

  • teacher and student at chalkboard

    Perceptions of Traditional and Charter Schools in New Orleans

    Sep 30, 2011

    After Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans replaced the city's existing school system with a decentralized choice-based system of both charter and district-run schools. An examination of principal, teacher, and parent surveys found many similarities between charter and traditional schools' performance but greater satisfaction among charter school parents with their children's schools, as well as more perceived choices.

  • Policymakers and Public Need to Be Able to Track and Account for Federal Disaster Funds

    Jul 15, 2011

    If the U.S. does not improve its ability to track federal spending and develop reliable measures of effectiveness, precious federal disaster aid will continue to be at risk of being squandered, writes Agnes Gereben Schaefer.

  • Katrina evacuees in New Orleans

    High Rates of Household Breakups Occurred Following Hurricane Katrina

    May 23, 2011

    The composition of households in New Orleans made the city's families more vulnerable to breakup during the chaos that followed Hurricane Katrina. Two-thirds of the city's households at that time saw at least one family member move away, an unusually high number even given the tremendous destruction of the hurricane.

  • Events @ RAND Audio Podcast

    Managing the Unexpected

    Apr 19, 2011

    Admiral Thad Allen, then a senior fellow at RAND, presented “Managing the Unexpected” on April 19, 2011, as part of RAND's Issues in Focus public outreach series. Retired Commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard and National Incident Commander for the response to the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, Allen discussed his experiences leading the nation's high-profile response to two national emergencies—the oil spill and Hurricane Katrina.

  • Flooded I-10/I-610/West End Blvd interchange and surrounding area of northwest New Orleans and Metairie, Louisiana

    Reducing Future Flood Damage in New Orleans Through Home Elevation and Land Use Changes

    Apr 9, 2011

    Nonstructural measures — such as incentives for home elevation, incentives for relocation to lower-risk areas, and restrictions on the use of floodplain land — can make New Orleans less vulnerable to storm surge

  • Congressional Briefing Podcast

    Partners in Preparedness: How Governments Can Leverage the Strengths of NGOs in Disaster Preparedness, Response, and Recovery

    Mar 14, 2011

    In this March 2011 Congressional Briefing, behavioral scientist Joie Acosta shares action plans and policy recommendations that emerged from a community conference held on the fifth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. Distinguished panelists include Admiral Thad Allen, now a senior fellow at the RAND Corporation, and Ann Williamson, President and CEO of the Louisiana Association of Nonprofit Organizations.

  • shooting gun art

    Reducing Gun Violence

    Dec 22, 2010

    An initiative that successfully reduced gun violence in Boston was adapted for a section of East Los Angeles with prevalent gang activity. Though not implemented as planned, the intervention helped reduce violent and gang crime in the targeted districts, both during and immediately after implementation.

  • teen couple holding hands

    Few Teens Have "The Talk" Before Becoming Sexually Active

    Dec 13, 2010

    Many American parents and adolescents do not talk about important sexual topics, including birth control and sexually transmitted diseases, before adolescents' sexual debut. Clinicians can facilitate this communication by providing parents with information about sexual behavior of adolescents.

  • Residential Wind, Flood Insurance Markets Still Face Serious Problems 5 Years After Hurricane Katrina

    Oct 20, 2010

    Five years after Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast, neither the federal government nor the private sector is any closer to developing effective solutions to the problems facing flood and windstorm insurance.

  • Translating Research into Action: From Recovery to Renaissance

    Aug 25, 2010

    On the fifth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, RAND Gulf States in partnership with LANO and the Allstate Foundation invites Louisiana's leaders to discuss the crucial role of nonprofits in rebuilding after the storm.

  • Navigating the Road to Recovery: Assessment of the Disaster Case Management Pilot in Louisiana

    Jun 30, 2010

    This report documents some of the key challenges in coordination, communication, and financing of the Disaster Case Management Pilot (DCMP) program and offers recommendations for future state and FEMA implementation of disaster case management.

  • Do You Know What It Means to Miss New Orleans?

    Jun 30, 2010

    In his inaugural address, New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu clearly accepted his dual challenge: rebuild a city that welcomes its still-displaced residents, and make long-needed changes to attract newcomers as well, writes Melissa Flournoy.

  • Circling job opportunities in the classified ads

    The Workforce and Economic Recovery: Effects of Hurricane Katrina

    Jun 22, 2010

    While analysis shows that aggregate detrimental labor market effects may be short-lived after natural disasters, results from Hurricane Katrina demonstrate that some groups may face more severe and sustained consequences.

  • Post-Katrina Project Demonstrates a Rapid, Participatory Assessment of Health Care and Develops a Partnership for Post-Disaster Recovery in New Orleans

    Mar 10, 2010

    Stakeholders in communities in which health care access was disrupted by Hurricane Katrina were engaged in an assessment of health priorities, as well as in data interpretation and plan design, to produce a sustainable community-academic partnership.

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    Priorities for Investments in Children and Families in Louisiana

    Mar 2, 2010

    The Community Foundation of Shreveport-Bossier selected education, health, and poverty as the focus for funding related to children and families. This framework helps the Foundation prioritize investments by identifying the intersection of local needs, community assets, and national best practices.

  • How Fare the Displaced and Returned Residents of New Orleans?

    Jan 27, 2010

    The Displaced New Orleans Residents Pilot Study shows that it is possible to study this hard-to-survey population to determine rates of return and mental illness among residents who experienced Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath.

  • Human Side of Katrina Recovery Still Needs Work

    Oct 19, 2009

    Four years after Hurricane Katrina, many people in the Gulf Coast region are still "just surviving," struggling with the economic devastation and the physical and psychological toll of these kinds of disasters, write Anita Chandra and Joie Acosta.

  • Five Questions President Obama Should Ask in His Visit to New Orleans

    Oct 14, 2009

    The federal government has spent about $140 billion responding to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, and the Gulf Coast now needs more money for hurricane and flood protection and for coastal restoration. But we still haven't properly evaluated whether our money was spent wisely, writes Melissa Flournoy.

  • Alabama's Challenge: Better Prepared Workforce

    Jul 14, 2009

    Alabama has made significant economic progress in recent decades, attracting car manufacturers and new industrial development. The state now has an opportunity to address some systemic challenges in education, health care, and workforce development to be competitive in a global economy, writes Melissa Flournoy.

  • Seeking New Approaches to Old Problems

    Apr 9, 2009

    These tough times also present an opportunity for Mississippi to do more than just cope with the immediate crisis: it can work to find smart ways to address the chronic social and economic problems that have plagued the state for decades, writes Melissa Flournoy.

  • Obama, Congress Can Improve FEMA, Homeland Security

    Dec 21, 2008

    In his campaign, President-elect Barack Obama pledged to rebuild the Gulf Coast — one of the country's most wounded, yet economically strategic, regions. To keep this laudable promise, he will need to make a sustained commitment not only to a national disaster recovery plan, but also a comprehensive economic development strategy for the Gulf Coast, writes Melissa Flournoy.

  • Teacher with Kids - Creative Arts Class

    Trends and Future Prospects for the Arts Predict Changing Role for State Agencies

    Nov 18, 2008

    State arts agencies — key players within the U.S. system of public support for the arts — face a wide varitey of challenges to their typical roles as grantmakers. The author concludes that future state arts policy is likely to focus more on efforts to develop the creative economy and to grow the audience for the arts.

  • Children draw under a work by artist Ramsis Younan at the Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art in Doha, Qatar, December 30, 2010

    Improving Arts Education Is Key To Stemming Audience Decline

    Sep 8, 2008

    Policymakers have underestimated the critical role of arts learning in supporting a vibrant nonprofit cultural sector. Despite decades of effort to make high-quality works of art available to Americans, demand for the arts has failed to keep pace with supply.

When Students Disappear… — Feb. 21, 2007

Fifty-three thousand students disappeared from Louisiana's public school system after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Another 10,000 enrolled temporarily after the storms and then departed. They did not return to the state's public schools for the remainder of the 2005-06 school year, writes John F. Pane.

Mississippi Comeback — Aug. 20, 2006

Hurricane Katrina caused as much devastation and human suffering along Mississippi's Gulf Coast as it did to New Orleans. It was the worst disaster to hit the state since the Mississippi River floods of 1927 and the Great Depression that soon followed. Katrina's powerful winds and floodwaters claimed 231 lives statewide, caused more than $100 billion in damages and destroyed buildings, crops and livestock as far as 100 miles inland.

Health Costs of Katrina — Oct. 10, 2005

Hurricanes Katrina and Rita took a devastating toll on their victims, tragically killing and injuring some and leaving many not only homeless but jobless - deprived of paychecks and employer-sponsored health insurance. Suddenly unable to pay their medical bills, these people - like many others who were poor and lacked health insurance before the hurricanes - now face a health care crisis.

Healing Storm Victims' Mental Health — Oct. 3, 2005

Victims of Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Rita are now faced with the task of coping with the psychological aftermath of the nightmare storms. Without a major national effort, many may not have the help they need to recover fully, write Kenneth B. Wells and Greer Sullivan.

Prepare for Disaster — Sep. 27, 2005

The glaring lesson in the aftermath of the largest emergency response and relief effort in U.S. history following Hurricanes Katrina and Rita is that it is far less painful and expensive to prepare for disasters than to respond to them. We've seen the same lesson following earlier disasters, but have failed to learn its, write Tom LaTourrette and Ed Chan.

Get Proactive with Disasters — Sep. 27, 2005

Imagine if the Army's main strategy for protecting soldiers was to provide more ambulances, hospital beds, and doctors to treat the wounded - instead of relying on defensive measures such as fortifications, tanks, body armor and helmets to protect soldiers from being wounded in the first place. The strategy of responding only after attacks instead of adequately preparing to defend against them sounds absurd. But it is exactly what the federal government, states and localities have done when it comes to protecting people from disasters such as hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, tornados and volcanoes, writes Charles Meade.