STEM Education Legislation Introduced in the Senate
On Thursday, October 6, Senators Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Al Franken (D-MN), Mark Begich (D-AK) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) introduced the Preparing Students for Success in the Global Economy Act. This legislation would reauthorize and strengthen the current Math and Science Partnership Program (Title II B) at the Department of Education.
Senator Merkley was the lead author of the bill and he and Senator Franken are members of the Senate’s Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee. We expect that Senator Merkley’s bill will be incorporated into the Senate legislation to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (No Child Left Behind). Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) has indicated to his colleagues he will mark up (review and approve) a Senate bill to reauthorize the ESEA on October 18. A draft bill may be out as soon as this week.
Preparing Students for Success in the Global Economy Act provides competitive grants to states and districts to improve student achievement in the STEM fields with a provision for the program to transition to formula-based grants after a threshold funding level was reached. The bill aims to:
- Improve student engagement in, and increase student access to, courses in STEM subjects
- Strengthen quality STEM instruction and professional development programs
- Recruit, train, and support highly effective teachers in STEM subjects and providing robust tools and supports for students and teachers
- Close student achievement gaps, and prepare more students to be on track to college and career readiness and success in these subjects
- Require states to develop a statewide STEM education plan.
- States and districts could also use funding to provide mentoring and induction programs, establish a master teacher corps and provide support for STEM related competitions and other out-of-school activities.
NSTA and the STEM Education Coalition worked closely with Senator Merkley on this bill, and were the one of the first groups to support the legislation.
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House Appropriators Zero out Funding for Math and Science Partnerships
Both the Senate the House Appropriations Committees are setting funding levels for FY2012 programs, but many believe that a long term continuing resolution will be the final result for the fiscal year which began Oct. 1.
Department of Education
The Senate Appropriations Bill for the Dept. of Education has allocated $175 million for the existing Math and Science Partnership Program and zero funding for the Administration’s new Effective Teaching and Learning: STEM, which would have replaced the existing MSP program.
The draft House Appropriations Bill has zeroed the Math and Science Partnership Program and provided no funds for the President’s proposed Effective Teaching and Learning: STEM. T his program had been funded consistently in the House over many years and it appears the House Committee took the opportunity to zero the MSP program since the Administration did not request funding for it this year, in lieu of several new STEM initiatives.
National Science Foundation
The Senate Appropriations Bill for NSF has allocated $6.698 billion (-2.5%) for NSF overall and $829.00 million (-4.9%) for the Education and Human Resources Directorate. The House bill has allocated $6.859 billion (-0.1%) for NSF overall and $835.00 million (-4.2%) for the Education and Human Resources Directorate.
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