Biden Space: June 2021 Archives

Statements on Pam Melroy's Senate Confirmation as NASA Deputy Administrator

"It's an honor to be confirmed by the Senate to serve as NASA Deputy Administrator, and I am humbled by President Biden and Vice President Harris' confidence in me," Melroy said. "I look forward to returning to the NASA family and working with Administrator Nelson to ensure the United States continues to lead in space and beyond - exploring the wonders of the universe, expanding the Earth science research critical to combatting climate change, unlocking scientific discoveries that will change the world as we know it, and inspiring the next generation of discoverers and dreamers."

The State Of NASA

NASA Administrator Bill Nelson Delivers State of NASA Address (Video)

"Nelson remarked on his long history with NASA, and among other topics, discussed the agency's plans for future Earth-focused missions to address climate change and a robotic and human return to the Moon through the Artemis program, as well as announcing two new planetary science missions to Venus - VERITAS and DAVINCI+."

Media Invited to Administrator's State of NASA Remarks on Climate, Artemis

"In his first address to the workforce, NASA Administrator Bill Nelson will discuss the agency's plans for future climate science missions, the agency's plans for a robotic and human return to the Moon through the Artemis program, and more during a State of NASA event at 3 p.m. EDT Wednesday, June 2. The event will air live on NASA Television, the NASA app, and the agency's website."

Watch

Keith's note: After four years of attempts to kill NASA's Education Office a new Administration wants to increase NASA's education funding. A person with a PhD in Education lives in the White House. Overall, the Biden/Harris Administration talks about enhancing education in all quarters of the government. Instead of having a political donor running the Department of Education into the ground, an actual teacher and professional educational manager is now the Secretary of Education. If you are interested in the future of our nation's education system, now would be a good time for you to start being enthusiastic - again.

You'd think that NASA would be overjoyed. Alas, even in the best of times, NASA's education efforts have been under funded, filled with congressional pork, and at odds with NASA Public Affairs and the outreach efforts run by various NASA directorates, missions, and field centers. And they lack even the most basic of metrics to allow its efforts to be evaluated for effectiveness. Rarely has NASA's education office been run by an actual professional educator with prior education management experience.

As Bill Nelson assumed the position of NASA Administrator, he has been saying all the right things about education, inspiring the next generation, the value of NASA as a global ambassador, etc. Jim Bridenstine said the same things. So did Charlie Bolden and Sean O'Keefe. Unlike his predecessors, NASA has a $147 million request - a 15.7% increase over FY 2021 appropriations in its education budget in the President's FY 2022 budget request. The budget request shows an out year runout reaching $160 million in FY 2026. If you look at the STEM summary in the NASA budget justification (page 725) - the 3 pages of 'lets get rid of education' verbiage from the Trump era is replaced with 6 pages of 'what can we do to expand education' at NASA.

What The Biden/Harris White House Says About NASA Education

As for NASA's plans according to this budget justification, the document states:

"NASA will execute a new integrated action plan toward broadening student participation in STEM Engagement programs and activities. This plan has outlined discrete initiatives and identified best practices already underway under four overarching goals:
• Enhance communications and stakeholder engagement, and build networks and relationships dedicated to broadening student participation;
• Strengthen practices and systems toward broadening student participation;
• Build a solid foundation for a focus on metrics and evaluation to effectively measure progress in broadening student participation; and
• Drive a collective focus across NASA's STEM Engagement community on broadening student participation and foster a commitment to achieving more diversity, equity, and inclusion in student opportunities and programs."

Keep these things in mind as you go through my commentary.

Two weeks ago I sent an email to NASA Public Affairs - and the Associate Administrators for Communications and STEM Engagement - about the excellent ISS event with visually and hearing impaired students. I got a partial response a week later. The following excerpt from the PAO response summarizes the current lazy, disinterested attitude within NASA Headquarters with regard to education:

NASAWatch: "How does this event link to the Biden/Harris Administration's education strategic plans"?
NASA PAO: "Please reach out to the White House."

Oddly the budget justification issued by the White House - presumably written with the collaboration of NASA - states that such a plan exists. So why did NASA Public Affairs tell me to consult with the White House? Did they not know that they had a plan what was in synch with the White House? As you will see below, NASA's education plans are ad hoc, in serious need of updating, are out of synch with other agency activities, and almost totally devoid of "metrics and evaluation to effectively measure progress in broadening student participation" as stated by the White House.

Assuming that the FY 2022 budget request for NASA education survives, what will Bill Nelson do with the extra $27 million? Will he just pour it into the status quo? If so then the added funds will make little real difference due to systemic problems within the NASA STEM Engagement Office. Or, will Nelson take the lead offered him by the White House and set aside some serious money to revamp i.e. to "Build Back Better" this aging and inefficient education program so as to make it 21st century compliant?

Let's take a closer look at NASA's Education efforts. I have expanded some of the things I have been writing about recently.


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This page is an archive of entries in the Biden Space category from June 2021.

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