House Science Panel Clears Science-Mathematics Education Bill
Washington--The House Science and Technology Committee last week unanimously approved a $425-million bill to improve science and mathematics education in schools and colleges, clearing the way for a vote on the measure by the full House, possibly this week.
The measure, HR 1310, which was approved by the Education and Labor Committee last month, would divide responsibility for a variety of new programs between the Education Department and the National Science Foundation.
In reaching an agreement on programs to be administered by each agency, the two committees settled a jurisdictional dispute that prevented passage of similar measures last year.
Bill May Face Major Changes
Although House approval is expected, the measure may face major changes in the Senate, where numerous other approaches to alleviate the so-called "science and mathematics crisis" are contained in several bills. Hearings on the bills are scheduled to begin in the Senate Subcommittee on Education, the Arts, and the Humanities next week.
The bill also faces opposition from the Reagan Administration, which proposed to spend $70 million on programs to improve science and mathematics education in the fiscal year 1984. Secretary of Education Terrel H. Bell, in testimony before the House education committee last month, urged lawmakers to support the Administration's "less costly" solution, which focused on the training of teachers.
As amended by the science committee, the House bill would include a $250-million package of block grants to states and school systems to set up school-improvement projects.
Another $45 Million
Another $45 million would be divided into three programs: $20 million for scholarships for prospective teachers, $20 million for summer institutes for current teachers, and $5 million for improving science programs in colleges that enroll large numbers of minority students.
Both sets of projects would be administered by the Education Department.
In the science foundation, $100 million would go to a fund--which would be augmented by matching grants from businesses--to improve university science, mathematics, and engineering programs and research facilities and to increase fac-ulty salaries. Approximately $15 million of those funds would be earmarked for programs to improve precollegiate education.
Summer Institutes for Teachers
The science foundation would also administer a $15-million project to provide summer institutes for teachers, which would be coordinated with the Education Department's project through the White House Office of Science and Technology. In addition, the foundation would support $10-million worth of postsecondary-improvement programs and $5 million worth of research in science and mathematics education.
In a related development last week, the science foundation's proposal for allocating the $15 million in fiscal 1983 funds provided by the Congress for precollegiate education was declared "not acceptable" by the chairman of the appropriations subcommittee responsible for the foundation, Republican Senator Jake Garn of Utah. The foundation was required to receive the subcommittee's approval of its spending plan because no authorization bill for the foundation was passed last year, according to Wallace G. Berger, a committee staff member.
Mr. Berger said the foundation's plan--which would involve spend-ing $14 million of the funds on million on awards to outstanding teachers--conflicted with the Reagan Administration's proposal to fund teacher-training projects through the Education Department.
Senator Garn, in a letter to the foundation's director, Edward A. Knapp, suggested that the foundation should concentrate its efforts instead on "materials development, public awareness and motivation, teaching and materials-demonstration, evaluation of materials and [of] teacher training, research in learning and cognition, and high-technology applications."
Mr. Berger said the Senator's suggestions--which he said were derived from discussions with a variety of experts in science education, including federal employees--were designed to "capitalize on the traditions of the agency and its strengths and abilities with the scientific and research community."
The Senator's suggestions were praised by Bill G. Aldridge, the executive director of the National Science Teachers Association, in a letter last week.
Mr. Aldridge wrote that the Senator had made "a remarkably thoughtful and accurate assessment of the situation and of the directions which should be taken to address the crisis." The letter included an alternative spending plan for the foundation's fiscal 1983 funds.