Arming Teachers, F-16s for Ukraine, Commercial Spaceflight: RAND Weekly Recap

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Jun 2, 2023

RAND Weekly Recap

This week, we discuss teachers’ views on carrying guns and on school safety overall; what F-16s will (and won’t) do for Ukraine; regulating commercial spaceflight; the future of Chinese psychological warfare; the parallels between Putin and Brezhnev; and who we honor on Memorial Day.

White roses and an American flag are seen in a memorial outside Robb Elementary, where a gunman killed 19 children and two teachers, in Uvalde, Texas, November 29, 2022, photo by Marco Bello/Reuters

A memorial outside Robb Elementary, where a gunman killed 19 children and two teachers, in Uvalde, Texas, November 29, 2022

Photo by Marco Bello/Reuters

What Do Teachers Think About Carrying Guns to School?

To learn what America's educators think about school safety generally—and about specific proposals, such as policies that would allow teachers to carry firearms in school—we surveyed nearly 1,000 K–12 teachers.

Here's what we found:

  • Teachers are divided on whether arming themselves would make schools safer: 54 percent feel it would make schools less safe, 20 percent feel it would make schools safer, and 26 percent feel it would make schools neither more nor less safe.
  • About one in five teachers we surveyed said they would be interested in carrying a gun to school if allowed.
  • White teachers were more likely than Black teachers to feel that teachers carrying firearms would make schools safer, and male teachers in rural schools were most likely to say that they would personally carry a firearm at school if allowed.
  • Despite the growth in gun violence, bullying—not active shooters—was teachers' most common safety concern.
  • Roughly half of teachers felt that physical security measures at their school, such as ID badges, cameras, and security staff, positively affected the school climate. (Only five percent of teachers felt that these measures had a negative impact on school climate.)

Based on these survey results, RAND experts suggest several areas for further research. One is developing better approaches for school safety that could help balance the frequent, lower-level forms of school violence such as bullying with lower-probability, extreme forms of violence like shootings.

Three U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcons fly over the Pacific Ocean, February 10, 2022, photo by Tech. Sgt. Matthew Lotz/U.S. Air Force

Three U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcons fly over the Pacific Ocean, February 10, 2022

Photo by Tech. Sgt. Matthew Lotz/U.S. Air Force

What F-16s Will and Won't Do for Ukraine

After months of lobbying by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, the West appears ready to provide Ukraine with U.S.-made F-16 fighter jets. According to RAND's Brynn Tannehill, a former naval aviator, F-16s will help Ukraine adopt more-Western styles of warfighting—and help its military cooperate better with those of NATO. However, these aircraft are “by no means a wonder weapon that will turn the tide of the war.”

Undated photo of Virgin Galactic Spaceship Cabin Interior, handout photo by Virgin Galactic/ABACA via Reuters Connect

Virgin Galactic Spaceship Cabin Interior

Photo by Virgin Galactic/ABACA via Reuters

Enter Outer Space at Your Own Risk?

How safe is it for amateur astronauts and others to participate in commercial spaceflight? This is largely unknowable, say RAND's Douglas Ligor and Josh Becker—at least for now. Current law bans federal regulation of commercial space enterprises, creating a dearth of data and information about the safety of commercial spaceflight. It's time to change this, they say, and allow the Federal Aviation Administration to lead the creation of safety standards.

A digital brain made up of lines, triangles, binary digits and dots, photo by Natalia Darmoroz/iStock/Getty Images Plus

Image by Natalia Darmoroz/iStock/Getty Images Plus

The Future of Chinese Psychological Warfare

As the U.S. military increasingly focuses on China, it is important to understand how Beijing's approach to psychological warfare is evolving. A new RAND report finds that China is leveraging a variety of technologies to improve its psychological warfare capabilities, including advanced computing, brain science, laser weapons, subliminal messaging, and holograms. The authors present a hypothetical case study to show how these capabilities could play out in a future U.S.-China contingency.

Russian President Vladimir Putin delivers a speech during a military parade on Victory Day in Red Square in central Moscow, Russia, May 9, 2023, photo by Gavriil Grigorov/Pool via Reuters

Russian President Vladimir Putin delivers a speech during a military parade in Red Square, May 9, 2023

Photo by Gavriil Grigorov/Pool via Reuters

Putin Is Following Brezhnev to a Dead End

Four decades ago, Leonid Brezhnev led the USSR into what many Soviets called the “era of stagnation.” Today, Vladimir Putin is taking Russia down a similar path, say RAND's William Courtney and Mark Stalczynski. Both leaders have waged wars against neighbors, repressed dissidents, and contributed to declining public morale. “These parallels hint that Putin's presidency is at risk of spiraling downward as did Brezhnev's.”

United States Marine Corps, photo by mariusz_prusaczyk/Getty Images

Photo by mariusz_prusaczyk/Getty Images

Who Should We Honor on Memorial Day?

The United States has set aside Memorial Day to remember, honor, and salute fallen service members. But as RAND's Kayla Williams wrote in the New York Times over the holiday weekend, not all of those who should be recognized fit neatly into this box. For instance, there are service members who die outside of combat, veterans who end their lives after returning home from duty, and civilians who are killed during conflict. Can we make more space in our hearts to remember them as well?

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