In today’s edition, the Brevard County daily Florida Today called for “a united front among elected, industry and community leaders from around the state” to “survive the traumatic change coming to NASA.” The trauma is next year’s retirement of the space shuttle fleet, the resulting loss of 7,000 jobs at Kennedy Space Center and the predicted loss of “thousands more as the impact is felt throughout the regional economy.” The editorial writers recognized “the importance of strong math and science education in K-12 schools and universities to produce the engineers, technical experts and scientists necessary for space-related industry in Florida to thrive.”
The paper published the editorial to cheer on a gathering planned for Monday of a bipartisan group of lawmakers from both the state and federal levels and a group of space industry experts at the Third Annual Florida Space and Technology Forum at Brevard Community College’s Cocoa campus. Listed prominently among the topics for discussion is education in science, technology, engineering and math at both the K-12 and postsecondary levels.
From the point of view of the space program, the critical science fields for K-12 education are the physical and space sciences, fields that would have been deemphasized by bills considered in the Florida Legislature last spring.
We can only hope that the state legislative leaders in attendance, including Senate President-in-waiting Mike Haridopolos and House Speaker-in-waiting Dan Cannon, are convinced of the importance of K-12 education in the physical and space sciences and carry an agenda for strengthening these fields to next spring’s legislative session.