NATO's 70th Anniversary, Food Deserts, Teachers: RAND Weekly Recap


RAND Weekly Recap

April 5, 2019

This week, we discuss why effective teachers are even more valuable than you think; how to improve gender diversity in the Coast Guard; the characteristics of successful U.S. military interventions; how to address surprise medical bills; NATO's enduring importance after seven decades; and what happens when a food desert's oasis dries up.

Students raise their hands in the classroom as their teacher reads from a book, photo by monkeybusinessimages/Getty Images

Photo by monkeybusinessimages/Getty Images

An Effective Teacher Is Even More Valuable Than You Think

A new RAND study suggests that effective teachers can make a difference beyond their own classrooms, helping to boost outcomes for children they've never even met. How? Better-educated students go on to have a positive effect on their peers. By failing to consider this “spillover effect,” schools may be undervaluing teachers by at least 30 percent. According to author Isaac Opper, there's a lesson for parents, too. “Care a little bit less about the exact teacher your child gets, and care more about the overall quality of the teachers in the school or district.”

Petty Officer 1st Class Krystyna Duffy, a boatswain's mate assigned to Coast Guard Station Golden Gate in San Francisco, drives a 47-foot Motor Lifeboat near the Golden Gate Bridge, February 8, 2018, photo by PO3 Sarah Wi/U.S. Coast Guard

Petty Officer 1st Class Krystyna Duffy drives a 47-foot Motor Lifeboat near the Golden Gate Bridge, February 8, 2018

Photo by PO3 Sarah Wi/U.S. Coast Guard

Gender Diversity in the Coast Guard

Women leave the U.S. Coast Guard at higher rates than men. RAND experts analyzed data and held focus groups to find out why—and to determine what might encourage women to stay. The researchers recommend that the Coast Guard continue to pursue more-inclusive policies. These include minimizing the effect that parental leave has on evaluations and promotion, improving child care options, and expanding opportunities for leadership training.

Silhouette of soldiers with military vehicles, photo by veneratio/Adobe Stock

Photo by veneratio/Adobe Stock

What Makes Military Interventions Successful?

U.S. military interventions have been more or less successful at achieving their political objectives, reaching these goals about 63 percent of the time. But levels of success have declined as the country has pursued objectives that are more and more ambitious. Those are the results from a new RAND analysis of 145 interventions from 1898 through 2016. What factors promote political success? That varies by the nature of the goal and the intervention.

A medical bill showing balance due, photo by DNY59/Getty Images

Photo by DNY59/Getty Images

How to Address Surprise Medical Bills

In the United States, patients who unknowingly stray from their insurers' networks may receive a surprise bill for thousands of dollars. According to RAND experts, policymakers who are considering legislation to address this issue should take care to weigh the potential effects on overall health care costs. Adopting the wrong solution could result in costlier care for everyone.

After 70 Years, NATO Is Still Critical

Yesterday marked 70 years since the North Atlantic Treaty Organization was created in the wake of World War II. According to recent congressional testimony by RAND's Christine Wormuth, many Americans have forgotten why the transatlantic relationship matters. “It's incumbent on all of us—whether it's national security professionals, or members of Congress, or leaders in the executive branch—to go out and talk to Americans about why NATO is still relevant today.”

A grocery cart in front of a closed supermarket, photo by galbiati/Getty Images

Photo by galbiati/Getty Images

When a Food Desert's Oasis Dries Up

When the Shop 'n Save in Pittsburgh's Hill District closed last month, the neighborhood reverted to a description that had previously taken decades to shake: food desert. As a result, residents lost the ability to go to a nearby supermarket. They also lost something less tangible: a symbol of hope. After studying the Hill District for years, RAND experts found that residents became happier with their neighborhood and improved their diets—even if they didn't shop at the store.

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