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NASA’s Elementary and Secondary Education Program: Review and Critique
Office of Education and touches on work in the science mission directorate and centers. Changes in program goals, management, and funding are also described.
For this report, recent history refers primarily to the period from the beginning of the agency’s education strategy in 1992 to 2005, when a new NASA administrator began a reorganization of the education programs. The current approach covers events that occurred between 2005 and the writing of this report during the summer of 2007. It is important to note that because changes occurred while the committee was still at work it was difficult to capture a precise description of the agency’s current education programs and projects.
RECENT HISTORY: 1992–2005
From the late 1970s through the early 2000s, NASA’s education programs consisted of a suite of projects managed by several offices. Projects that targeted national audiences were managed by the Office of Education at NASA headquarters and implemented by the education directors at the NASA centers, who also designed and carried out a variety of regional and local projects. Projects in the Minority University Research and Education Program (MUREP) were managed by the Office of Equal Opportunity Programs at NASA headquarters, and implemented by the equal opportunity officers at the NASA centers. Some relatively independent projects were designed and implemented by NASA science and engineering organizations or their missions.
For K-12 projects, there were two main NASA units that funded and managed projects: the headquarters Office of Education and the science and technology enterprises, later renamed mission directorates.1 The projects under each of these two main units were funded through different mechanisms and operated somewhat independently of each other. The Office of Education receives federal funding for specific projects in its portfolio, while the science and technology enterprises designate a certain level of funding from their mission or research budgets to support related education activities. Consequently, K-12 education projects across the agency tended to evolve as a diverse portfolio of often disconnected activities.
Many of the MUREP projects also served K-12 students and teachers, but since they are implemented through grants to minority universities, they are considered by NASA to be higher education projects. MUREP activities were thus not considered to be within the scope of the agency’s K-12 education projects for this study.