HOUSTON – Congressman Alan Nunnelee crawled inside the Houston Solar Car last week and took it for a spin around the parking lot.
“Unbelieveable!” was all he could say when he crawled out a few minutes later.
“I was at a groundbreaking this morning for a factory in Mantachie that is on the cutting edge of technology,” he explained. “It’s things like that and things like this solar car that I tell people around the nation that we are doing in Mississippi.”
But it was the Houston Solar Car team that impressed him the most
Nunnelee quizzed the solar car team on what it takes the win the race, how fast the car goes and how they have won national honors in solar car racing the past 13 years in a row.
“We started next year’s race the day after we finished this year’s race in Los Angeles,” said Kristin Black, Captain of the Houston Solar Car Team. “We had a car that could do 84 miles an hour and we have to race it eight days without any breakdowns to win.”
Black answered each and every question posed by Nunnelee.
“I can’t believe how knowledgeable you are about this technology,” said Nunnelee. “It’s apparent it takes math, science, engineering and communication skills to do this. I am impressed.”
Houston School of Science and Technology Director Beverly James said it is a community that makes Solar Car successful.
“We have sponsors who support us financially and we have a very active parent organization that works very hard,” said James. “We also have students who do the work and give a lot to our solar car team.”
Nunnelee urged students to study hard, stay in school and think about living in Mississippi when they graduate from college.
“There was a day and age when you have to leave Mississippi to find the good job – the high paying jobs,” said Nunnelee. “That’s not the case anymore.
“Get your education and look around this state for a job in your field,” the Congressman added. “Mississippi is a great place to live and raise a family. It’s our people who make a difference.”
Nunnelee was also quizzed by local teachers after his solar car ride.
Principals and teachers urged Nunnelee to get government regulations out of the classroom so teacher have more time to teach.
Educators also pointed out state and national education administrators often don’t have the classroom experience to help them establish good policy and proceedure.
Nunnelee pointed out his wife was a teacher and he was aware of these problems.
Nunnelee would not comment on either Common Core or state funding for pre-kindergarten.
“I said when I got to the federal level I would not look over the shoulder of state leaders,” said Nunnelee.
Common Core State Standards Initiative is a U.S. education initiative that seeks to bring diverse state curricula into alignment with each other by following the principles of standards-based education reform. The initiative is sponsored by the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers.
The initiative is a controversial program in the Republican Party with more conservative politicians in favor of the way it measures achievement on a national level. The more liberal critique of Common Core is that this a huge profit-making enterprise that costs school districts a tremendous amount of money and pushes out the things kids love about school, like art and music.
Nunnelee was elected to the U.S. House of Representaives in 2010 and re-eleected in 2012.
Prior to that he served in the Mississippi State Senate representing the 6th district from 1995 to 2011.