Fly me to the moon...
For as long as I can remember, every time I looked at the moon I thought about the men that had walked on it. I was born just a few months before Apollo 11 landed the first men on the moon. I loved watching 30 years of Space Shuttle missions and envied the astronauts who got to fly. I held a vested interest in seeing the International Space Station (ISS) get put together in space as my Uncle Les followed his dream and was an engineer working on the safety systems for the ISS. When the shuttle program ended, it left a big hole for me because NASA and space missions always held a fascination.
Imagine how excited I was when I recently got to meet the 4 astronauts that were selected for the Artemis II mission. A recap: A few years ago, NASA offered reward money to commercial companies to develop new rockets and space craft to go back to the moon and beyond to Mars and that is what the Artemis missions are preparing us to do.
In a room full of legislative staffers, one of the astronauts pointed out a Proverbs quote that was displayed in the Science and Technology Committee hearing room, "Where there is no vision, people perish." He talked about the importance of having that vision. In 1961, JFK shared his powerful vision with the nation, stating "We choose to go to the Moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard." In just 8 short years, the world celebrated men walking on the moon, but without JFK's vision, I don't know that would have happened.
Our education system is in desperate need of a unified vision because what we are doing hasn't been working for decades. There has been a lot of focus on the learning losses caused by the pandemic, but those scores were not acceptable before the pandemic. No Child Left Behind (NCLB), the Bush Administration's answer for education, ushered in the era of standardized testing. NCLB had unattainable goals and did our teachers and students a complete disservice. NCLB was scrapped under the Obama administration and was replaced with Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), which allows more flexibility in how schools are assessed. The problem is that our nation seems to be addicted to standardized tests. Every teacher will tell you that there are better, fairer ways to assess a student's learning but districts and states seem to lack the willpower to change.
Our teachers have the vision we need, but there are not enough people listening to them. My colleagues and I have conversations all the time that always end with, "if only we were in charge." Before we lose them, we need to use this nation's best resource, our teachers. They are overworked, underappreciated and underutilized and yet they are the answer to getting our students out of the hole made by standardized tests. The time is now because our students deserve better.