Education Opinion

Following Up on John Doerr: The Private Sector in Space

March 05, 2008 2 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Last week I noted venture capitalist John Doer’s presentation to the National Governors Association on Green Technology as a paradigm for the school improvement industry. Doer described the problem – part of which is an entrenched petroleum industry, the technology potential, and what government needs to do to make investment attractive to the private sector.

I heard Doerr’s presentation on CSPAN radio. As I was driving into town for the first day of the Education Industry Association’s annual Washington policy meeting that station delivered up something else worth listening to – The Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation Subcommittee on Space Aeronautics and Related Sciences hearing on NASA’s FY 2009 budget proposal.
My advice is to listen to the hearing as background while you do your desk work. Roughly 24 minutes into the session, Dr. Michael Griffin, NASA Administrator and the committee members begin to discuss the Commercial Orbital Transportation Services Project, known as COTS. “The key objectives of the program are to facilitate U.S. private industry development of reliable, cost effective access to low Earth orbit and to create a market environment in which commercial space transportation services are available to government and private sector customers.” (NASA). The exchange lasts about an hour.

What’s to be learned from listening to this? Government-funded NASA is on the verge of loosing our capacity to transport men and cargo back and forth from earth to space. (We already depend on Russia for critical transportation - including emergency and escape activities for the International Space Station.) NASA is managing the contracts with what are in effect, private sector competitors to perform that function. Politics plays a big role in this field. Investor interest depends on what the Congress legislates, the White House makes a priority, and the Agency’s day–to–day decision making. Sound familiar?

As with the Doerr presentation, edbizbuzz readers should listen to this hearing 1) for its pattern rather than its content, and 2) to appreciate that politicians are quite familiar with the class of problem school improvement providers are bringing to the table. The industry’s task is to frame its challenge as a problem like Green Technology or COTS, rather than allowing it to be cast as “when will you stop taking money from the mouths of babes?” But as I’ve noted many times before, it’s much easier to use the former frame if you’ve got the evaluation data to back it up.

The opinions expressed in edbizbuzz are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.


Budget & Finance Webinar Leverage New Funding Sources with Data-Informed Practices
Address the whole child using data-informed practices, gain valuable insights, and learn strategies that can benefit your district.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Classroom Technology Webinar
ChatGPT & Education: 8 Ways AI Improves Student Outcomes
Revolutionize student success! Don't miss our expert-led webinar demonstrating practical ways AI tools will elevate learning experiences.
Content provided by Inzata
Classroom Technology K-12 Essentials Forum Tech Is Everywhere. But Is It Making Schools Better?
Join us for a lively discussion about the ways that technology is being used to improve schools and how it is falling short.

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Education Briefly Stated: May 31, 2023
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
8 min read
Education Briefly Stated: May 17, 2023
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
8 min read
Education Briefly Stated: May 3, 2023
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
8 min read
Education Briefly Stated: April 26, 2023
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
8 min read