Reaching for the Stars

During my time at the National Education Association, it was my responsibility to identify political leadership that was willing to push initiatives to challenge both teachers and students to strive towards greatness. In President Obama, I believe our children and educators have a key ally acutely interested in math and science education.

In just over a year in office our President has outlined an ambitious education agenda that has garnered bipartisan support. The Obama Administration recognizes that the future of this great country is based on how well our children are prepared to lead in the areas of math, science and technology.

The President is right that in order for America to continue to lead in the global economy, we must educate our children for the future.

Innovation in energy, technology and health care fields are all undergirded by strong instruction in math and science. Properly preparing our youth today will ensure our children and country have a bright future.

Just this week I witnessed first hand the importance of teaching our children math and science. In Washington, D.C. my organization, the Latino Leaders Network (LLN), paid tribute to astronaut José Hernandez, the ninth Latino astronaut in space. Mr. Hernandez’s family came to the United States as Mexican immigrants and as a boy working in the fields of California he dreamed of one day becoming an astronaut. His goal was not fulfilled overnight however; it would take years of hard work and preparation in the fields of science and math before reaching space. We honored Mr. Hernandez because we believe that his accomplishments are examples of the American dream.

High-quality teachers and educational programs are the critical elements that can turn dreams into reality for the next generation. Companies like ExxonMobil that helped LLN honor Mr. Hernandez are vital to improving access to educational opportunities. They have been working to ensure that our kids are equipped with a solid Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) education and focused on making sure that more teachers who teach math and science have degrees in those subjects. Their commitment to education is essential for helping future generations of Americans achieve their goals and ambitions.

With the launch of the Administration’s new STEM initiatives and leadership from Americans like José Hernandez and Corporate America, I have high hopes for our future. New policies in Washington and bold programs in math and science are incredibly important. However, Mr. Hernandez and President Obama understand that learning must first start at home. Involved parents and first-rate teachers are the keys to a child’s success in life. Both Mr. Hernandez and the President are shining examples that with diligence and the proper education, the sky is the limit.

Mickey Ibarra is the Founder and Chairman of the Latino Leaders Network, a non-profit, 501(c)(3) organization whose mission is to develop ongoing opportunities for “Bringing Leaders Together” to establish relationships and dialogue on issues important to the Latino community.

By Mickey Ibarra