If children are the future, uh-oh

Last weekend Washington was host to the Princeton Model Congress, where over 1,000 high school students from around the country come to DC to debate issues and pass “legislation” about them. (Think Model UN but with also a model president, Supreme Court, and press corps, but, in a shocking departure from reality, apparently no model lobbyists.) An article in the Daily Princetonian about the event includes this relevant passage:

The conferences entail more than just debates about contemporary matters, however. [Director of programs Kit] Tollerson recalled an unusual bill that advanced to full sessions this past weekend. The bill shut down NASA on the rationale that “nothing useful has ever come from outer space.”

“The boy was able to put his idea through to his audience by the sheer power of his charisma,” Tollerson said, referring to the student who introduced and backed the bill.

NASA, you’re on notice: you’ve got about 15 or 20 years before this person makes it to the real Congress to demonstrate otherwise.

14 comments to If children are the future, uh-oh

  • Ah, but the lobbyists will save NASA!

  • This seems like a pretty big event. It scares me that someone so uneducated about what space exploration has done for mankind could be chosen to participate in this program.

    In short, NASA is screwed. They need to really push for public outreach!

  • Adrasteia

    It doesn’t help public confidence any that the first items credited by incompetent NASA PR lackeys are tang, teflon, MRI, velcro, smoke detectors, freeze dried food, the zero gravity pen, and microprocessors. Even Joe NASCAR is smart enough to know that none of that was invented by NASA.

    Maybe if the PR arm stopped blatantly lying to the public like they did with shuttle, ISS, and the so called ‘shuttle derived’ Ares launchers, we’d be more inclined to want to fund them.

  • Andy

    Well, as a ‘gradiated’ student of one of the largest school districts in Minnesota, I know something about poor education. This is just another example of why we need to completely revamp our K – 12 system, as it ranks among the worst in the world (http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/nsb0602/). Oh, and with gym teachers instructing science courses, it doesn’t surprise me that kids don’t know anything about NASA. I once corrected a physics teacher who argued that Mr. John Glenn was the first man to walk on the moon. What a disgrace!

  • I agree with Andy. While I’m hardly a fan of NASA, there are things it has done which have, in fact, provided a benefit, not all of which are easy to identify. The kid in question needs to bone up on the issues before supporting a position – on the other hand, members of Congress often know very little about many subjects, and are often easily swayed by lobbyists and their money.

  • Adrasteia

    Oh, and with gym teachers instructing science courses, it doesn’t surprise me that kids don’t know anything about NASA. I once corrected a physics teacher who argued that Mr. John Glenn was the first man to walk on the moon. What a disgrace!

    The major problem is that like NASA, primary and secondary schools are a state run monopoly. There is simply no incentive for anyone inside the system to decrease costs, raise quality, or provide accountability for any of the product provided.

  • Tom

    NASA needs to be permanently disbanded. There is no disgrace in retiring the number. Besides the useful half-life for any government agency is 20 or so years.

    The country needs to re-evaluate how it wants to conduct its space program. NASA was a child of the Cold War, and is no longer relevant.

    Shifting the robotic science side to NSF or a new NASA offshoot makes sense.

  • LR PMCkid

    yup, pmc is just one giant, drunken, high, orgie; if u hadnt figured that out yet, sorry

  • LR PMCer

    Though most of us try to get into the genuine congress experience, some delegates submit joke bills anyway.

    And that guy? Was probably a private school student, as most of the delegates are.

  • LR PMCgirl

    everyone is missing the big picture, its not the fact that the reporter tried to make a “cute” joke by happeneing to take a joke bill we should be concerned with, its the fact that kids were bold enough to try this outlet in the first place.

    so before you start criticising the intelligence level of a FIFTEEN YEAR OLD on the logicality of their bill, ask yourself, as a fully grown man or woman, if you could even do what we spent 4 days doing.

  • Chance

    While the public goodwill NASA earned from it’s past glories isn’t quite gone, it is fading year after year. Heck, a serious attempt to shut NASA down might just be the kick in the pants the agency needs. Nothing motivates people to get busy like threats to job security.

  • basically, most of your perceptions of PMC are completely wrong. i was actually in that committee. I would like to reassert the fact that this bill was never meant to be taken seriously. After three days of intensely debating serious bills, the last day is spent on joke bills and bills which have been overly simplified in order to stimulate debate (for example, the NASA bill). there were both serious and ludicrous speeches on the topic. i would also like to say that PMC is one of the most intelligent and competitive environments i have ever been in, not a “sorry indictment of the american public school system.” especially as everyone there except us goes to private school on long island.

    also, i also have comtemplated the unrealistic lack of model lobbyists.

  • Chance

    Are PMC participants really big fans of the space politics blog, or do they just google the event name to see who’s talking about them?

  • I think you may be on to something there, Chance.
    That was a question I also asked and as it turns out, the space politics blog is the first result in a Google Blog Search of ‘Princeton Model Congress’.

    Anyways, we get it, Princeton Youth. Let’s move on.