Senate Approves Only $25 Million for Math and Science Partnerships in FY 2003
In a stunning blow to science and math education, the Senate Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations Subcommittee voted on July 16 to fund the Department of Education Math and Science Partnerships (Title II Part B) at only $25 million for FY 2003 (July 1, 2003 to June 30, 2004), far less than the full funding of $450 million requested this past year by national education, science, engineering, business, and high tech groups, including NSTA. On July 18, the Senate Appropriations Committee finalized the FY 2003 Labor-HHS-Education appropriations.
The House of Representatives still has to take action on their FY 2003 education appropriations bill, but it is anticipated that funding levels for federal education programs will be considerably lower in the House appropriations bill. The final funding for federal education appropriations will be contingent on a reconciliation of House and Senate funding levels.
As you will recall, the Math and Science Partnerships in NCLB are merit-based partnerships among school districts; university science, engineering, and math departments; businesses; and educational organizations that seek to improve teacher quality and student achievement in K-12 math and science. Although the Math and Science Partnerships were authorized to receive $450 million in funds, Congressional appropriators last year only funded the programs for FY 2002 at $12.5 million.
NSTA and other groups, including Triangle Coalition for Science and Technology Education, National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, the American Chemical Society, American Society of Mechanical Engineers, the American Physical Society and business and high tech groups such as Texas Instruments, Intel, American Electronics Association, and the National Alliance of Business, have been working to increase the yearly appropriation for this program to at least $100 million.
If these partnerships are funded at $100 million, the program would revert to a formula program to the states, and would guarantee more spending for math and science education programs in the states. Because the Senate Appropriations Committee voted for only $25 million for the programs (pending the final okay on the Senate floor), it is now up to the members of the House education appropriations committee to sufficiently fund the program to meet this $100 million marker.
The good news is that the Senate Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations subcommittee did vote to increase the NCLB Title II Part A Teacher Quality state grants by $250 million for FY 2003, to $3.1 billion. These funds go by formula to each state, and the state must ensure that 95 percent of the money goes to districts. Title II Part A funds can be used for a variety of purposes, including teacher training, class size reduction, merit pay, certification, licensing, and mentoring programs, and retention programs (see below for more information on NCLB Title II Part A).
The Senate also voted to increase funding for Title I by $.1.5 billion, and to increase funding for special education by $1 billion.
In response to the Senate action, NSTA and other education and science groups sent out a press release expressing their dismay with the Senate vote. We will provide you with more information when the education appropriations bill moves in the House.
Update on No Child Left Behind
As you know, on January 8, 2002, President Bush signed into law the "No Child Left Behind" (NCLB) Act. NCLB authorizes a sweeping overhaul of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), the major federal law for K-12 schools.
For the latest information on what the new law means to you, check out yesterday's news item: "No Child Left Behind: What's in the New Education Reform Law?". There, you’ll find links to the Department of Education’s draft guidance on Title, II, Part A, Improving Teacher Quality State Grants; as well as an NSTA-created PowerPoint presentation on NCLB that was given at the NSTA Summer Congress in South Carolina.
NSTA Resources May Add Up To Extra Tax Benefits
DID YOU KNOW -- There are two provisions in the Federal Tax Code that could be advantageous to science teachers purchasing NSTA Recommends books, and --under certain circumstances -- registering for NSTA conventions and membership. The first provision below, the Deduction for Educator Expenses, is new for 2002; the other, Schedule A (Form 1040) continues as an option.
New in 2002: $250 deduction for Educator Expenses
For the tax years of 2002 and 2003, there is a new tax deduction for "Educator Expenses" that allows "eligible educators" to deduct as an adjustment to income up to $250 in qualified expenses, even if you don't itemize deductions on Schedule A. You may qualify as an "eligible educator" if you are a K-12 teacher, instructor, counselor, principal or aide and you work at least 900 hours during a school year in a school that provides elementary or secondary education, as determined under state law. Qualified expenses include unreimbursed expenses you paid or incurred for books and supplementary materials that you use in the classroom. The IRS suggests that persons claiming
deductions for educator expenses keep records noting the date, amount and purpose of each purchase. There are other qualifications and requirements so consult your tax preparer.
Continuing: “Schedule A” unreimbursed employee business expenses
Under a long-standing provision of the tax code, (Schedule A), annual unreimbursed purchases of NSTA membership, books, convention registration and related travel expenses may be tax-deductible as unreimbursed employee business expenses--subject to certain limits on Schedule A, Form 1040.
NSTA members are urged to consult a tax preparer with any questions, and to save receipts.