Science Panel Weighs $400-Mil. Education Project
Washington--A bill before the House of Representatives to improve science and mathematics education moved a step closer to enactment last week as the Science and Technology Committee--after hearing testimony from educators, scientists, and other legislators--prepared to vote on sending the measure to the House floor.
In its current version, the measure, HR 1310, would provide $250 million to school systems and state education agencies and $150 million to colleges and universities for improvement efforts.
The proposal, one of the numerous science-and-mathematics measures pending in the Congress, was approved on Feb. 8 by the Education and Labor Committee, whose chairman designated it "emergency" legislation and asked that it be brought quickly to the floor. (See Education Week, Feb. 16.)
The chairman of the science committee, Democrat Don Fuqua of Florida, also asked for swift action.
"This is a unique time in which there is unanimous recognition by leaders in government, industry, and education that science and engineering education and personnel are of crucial importance for the future,'' Representative Fuqua said. "The time is now for decisive action."
The committee's action on the measure was scheduled to be completed yesterday, although several members of the committee indicated last week that they would seek to amend the version approved by the education committee.
The members appeared especially receptive to a request from the National Science Teachers Association that the proposed summer teacher-training institutes be conducted under the auspices of the National Science Foundation, rather than the Education Department.
The summer institutes conducted by the foundation in the early 1960's, following passage of the National Defense Education Act, were praised by the science-teachers association's executive director, Bill G. Aldridge.
Several committee members also said they agreed with a request by Representative William F. Goodling, Republican of Pennsylvania, that they delete provisions of the bill that would permit foreign-language teachers to participate in the summer institutes and to receive federal fellowships.
"I cannot endorse the plan to include teachers of foreign language in this legislation," said Mr. Goodling, who voted against the provisions as a member of the education committee. "If there is one way to destroy a program, it is to weaken and dilute its focus."
Representative Dave McCurdy of Oklahoma, a Democrat who is the sponsor of a bill to provide tax credits to employers who hire teachers of mathematics and science during the summer, said he also wanted to ensure that privately employed scientists and engineers could participate in programs funded under HR 1310.