Mike Griffin (Apparently) Has A Problem With Teachers In Space

Editor's note: I just don't get it. Once again Mike Griffin went out of his way to diminish the history - and legacy - behind Barbara Morgan's presence on the STS-118 mission. Moments ago, in a post flight press conference, Griffin sought to reduce the media's emphasis on Barbara Morgan's global notoriety as a teacher and educator by saying "Once upon a time she was a teacher" and "Barbara Morgan is not an Educator-Astronaut".

If this is the case, then why did NASA PAO put out this 2002 press release "NASA's Educator-Astronaut Assigned First Flight" regarding Morgan's assignment to STS-118? Look at her official bio - this is not your typical astronaut's membership listing: "ORGANIZATIONS: National Education Association; Idaho Education Association; National Council of Teachers of Mathematics; National Science Teachers Association; International Reading Association; International Technology Education Association; Challenger Center for Space Science Education."

NASA just flew a teacher in space - millions of kids paid attention - as did their parents. The agency - starting with its leader - ought to be making mention of that fact at every possible opportunity - if for no other reason than to show that NASA has relevance - something it seems to be rather incapable of doing these days.

Barbara Morgan is both 100% teacher - and 100% astronaut. I think that says something powerfully important about both career paths.

Reader note: "What is this man's problem? Furthermore, does he actually know anything about his astronauts? If he did, he would know that all across the nasa.gov site, Morgan is profiled/promoted as an Educator Astronaut. Examples:

The latter is specific in its notation about STS-118 that "In addition to delivering the Starboard 5 Truss Segment and the External Stowage Platform 3 to the ISS, it will be the first flight of an Educator Astronaut, mission specialist Barbara Morgan."

In the press introduction of the Astronaut class of 1998, Morgan introduced herself as an Educator Astronaut and Mission Specialist. It is featured on a clip that NASA has played numerous times on NASA TV prior to and during STS-118. Was she lying?

As an educator myself, I have ordered education materials and videos from NASA. All of those related to Morgan and STS-118 promote her as an Educator Astronaut. These are materials printed by NASA itself. Perhaps Mike Griffin needs some time back in the classroom before he goes shooting himself in the foot as he attempts to cram it in his mouth."

Editor's update: A simple search of NASA.gov yielded the following overt examples from 2007 wherein "Educator Astronaut Barbara Morgan" is mentioned. I have to wonder just who is advising Mike Griffin on this topic. Griffin clearly has no idea what his own agency has been telling the public about who/what Barbara Morgan is - for years - and recently as well.

  • Barbara Morgan, Educator Astronaut Poster: "Educator Astronaut Barbara Morgan makes her first spaceflight on STS-118. Educator Astronauts are teachers with expertise in K-12 classrooms who are selected by NASA to become fully qualified astronauts. With their backgrounds, Educator Astronauts will help lead NASA in the development of new ways to connect space exploration with the classroom and to inspire the next generation of explorers. The back of the poster lists information for teachers on how and where to obtain NASA resources."
  • NASA Educator Astronaut Program: "Barbara Morgan, and the Educator Astronauts who will follow her, will bring the excitement of space flight and the importance of science, technology, and mathematics to the Nation's teachers and students."
  • August 2007 -- First Spaceflight of an Educator Astronaut Extra: "As the first Educator Astronaut launches into orbit, NASA's mission for education aims to inspire, engage and educate the nation's future workforce"
  • An Educator and an Astronaut: "When Space Shuttle Endeavour launched on Aug. 8, 2007, it carried NASA's first Educator Astronaut into space. Despite her historically unique status, Morgan is much like her crewmates on the STS-118 mission as she is a fully trained and certified astronaut.

I guess this tactic on Griffin's part somehow fits into the master "Strategic Communications" plan that NASA Chief of Strategic Communications Bob Hopkins is promoting since Hopkins oversees all NASA Education efforts. Curiously, education and students are mentioned repeatedly in Hopkins' official NASA Message Construct. Why is Griffin departing from his own agency's official Message Construct? Why have one if the boss ignores it?

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This page contains a single entry by Keith Cowing published on August 21, 2007 10:17 PM.

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