Education

Math and Science Could Be Big Losers Under New Law

By David J. Hoff — January 16, 2002 5 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Math and science teachers will lose their designated federal funding for professional development because the new K-12 education act created a block grant, in part, with money from a 15-year-old program aimed at improving the skills of such educators.

The changes “virtually eliminate dedicated federal funding for K-12 math and science education,” advocates for math and science teachers declared in a last- minute plea for help in lobbying for a new mathematics and science program.

In the end, the effort late last year failed to change that provision of the “No Child Left Behind” Act signed last week by President Bush. Under the new law, which reauthorizes the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, math and science teachers will have to compete for professional-development aid from the new $2.85 billion block grant, pitting them against teachers of other subjects and efforts to reduce class sizes.

To replace the $485 million Dwight D. Eisenhower Professional Development Program, which guaranteed a big chunk of the program’s money to math and science teachers, Congress established a new pot for demonstration grants to enhance those teachers’ skills. But, to the dismay of many lobbyists, Congress fell far short by appropriating only $12.5 million of the $450 million math and science advocates had sought and at one time appeared in line to get.

“No Child Left Behind is well-funded, with one exception,” said Linda P. Rosen, the senior vice president for education at the National Alliance of Business, a Washington-based group that lobbied for the new math and science program. “Twelve and a half million dollars is not going to go very far.”

Federal officials, however, say they expect that districts will continue to pay for math and science professional development with block grant money, because local education leaders know that teachers’ skills are lacking most in those subjects.

“Local school districts will use [block grant] money for math and science, whether or not someone says they have to spend it on math and science,” said Susan K. Sclafani, a counselor to Secretary of Education Rod Paige. “Schools are going to do it because it’s the right thing to do.”

But math, and especially science, promoters are doubtful that their teachers will do as well as they did when the Eisenhower professional- development program reserved at least $250 million for them.

“From what we’ve seen, a lot of money is going to reading and math programs,” said Jodi L. Peterson, the director of legislative affairs for the National Science Teachers Association, a 60,000-member group based in Arlington, Va. “We’re seeing science squeezed out in elementary schools.”

Funding Mix- Up

Mathematics and science advocates worked throughout 2001 to avoid being in that position.

From the start of last year’s debate on the education bill, they endorsed President Bush’s proposal to put the Eisenhower program into the block grant and replace it with new math and science partnerships.

The new program will require a pairing of colleges and school districts to offer sustained professional development for teachers.

The program is designed to solve one of the weaknesses of the Eisenhower program, which critics and supporters alike said too often provided money for short-term workshops that had little impact on classroom practice.

Math and science supporters believed that the new partnerships would be financed at $450 million.

The House version of the ESEA bill would have set aside that amount from the block grant and dedicated it to the math and science partnerships. In contrast, the Senate version separated the math and science partnerships from the block grant, though it authorized spending of up to $900 million on the partnerships.

When the House-Senate conference committee separated the partnerships from the block grant, however, the appropriators didn’t take money out of the block grant to pay for the math and science program. And congressional appropriators ended up giving it $12.5 million, a small fraction of what had been anticipated, much less provided in the past.

“Right out of the blue, it caught us by surprise,” said Tom Lindsley, a lobbyist for the Business Coalition for Excellence in Education, a group of 80 companies that pushed for the new partnerships.

Without a significant amount set aside for the new partnerships, mathematics and science teachers will compete with others.

Yet math and science teachers are more likely than their colleagues to be teaching a subject they hadn’t majored in as college students, according to James M. Rubillo, the executive director of the 100,000-member National Council of Teachers of Mathematics. “From elementary schools on,” he said, “teachers have more training in reading and other subjects than math and science.”

But Ms. Sclafani noted that history suggests that math and science teachers will fare well.

When Congress previously reauthorized the ESEA in 1994, it took away math and science teachers’ exclusive rights to Eisenhower funds. Still, by last year, about $375 million of the program’s $485 million was awarded to math and science projects.

What’s more, congressional appropriators included nonbinding report language to “strongly urge” that the block grant money keep funding for math and science teachers at current levels. The Education Department plans to pass the word to districts through regulations, Ms. Sclafani said.

NSF’s New Role

In addition, the Education Department is working closely with the National Science Foundation to ensure that the two agencies’ math and science programs don’t overlap, Ms. Sclafani said.

Congress appropriated $160 million for a revamped National Science Foundation program. The Math/Science Partnerships will solicit grant applications from teams that include universities and school districts. The teams will promise to work on upgrading the skills of math and science teachers who haven’t been trained to teach the subjects. Recipients also will need to work toward raising the number of high school students taking high-level math and science courses, said Judith A. Ramaley, the NSF’s assistant director for education and human resources.

A version of this article appeared in the January 16, 2002 edition of Education Week as Math and Science Could Be Big Losers Under New Law


Commenting has been disabled on edweek.org effective Sept. 8. Please visit our FAQ section for more details. To get in touch with us visit our contact page, follow us on social media, or submit a Letter to the Editor.


Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Teaching Webinar
6 Key Trends in Teaching and Learning
As we enter the third school year affected by the pandemic—and a return to the classroom for many—we come better prepared, but questions remain. How will the last year impact teaching and learning this school
Content provided by Instructure
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
School & District Management Webinar
Ensuring Continuity of Learning: How to Prepare for the Next Disruption
Across the country, K-12 schools and districts are, again, considering how to ensure effective continuity of learning in the face of emerging COVID variants, politicized debates, and more. Learn from Alexandria City Public Schools superintendent
Content provided by Class
Teaching Profession Live Online Discussion What Have We Learned From Teachers During the Pandemic?
University of California, Santa Cruz, researcher Lora Bartlett and her colleagues spent months studying how the pandemic affected classroom teachers. We will discuss the takeaways from her research not only for teachers, but also for

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Education Schools Get the Brunt of Latest COVID Wave in South Carolina
In the past few weeks, South Carolina has set records for COVID-19 hospitalizations and new cases have approached peak levels of last winter.
4 min read
Two Camden Elementary School students in masks listen as South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster talks about steps the school is taking to fight COVID-19, Wednesday, Sept. 15, 2021, in Camden, S.C. McMaster has adamantly and repeatedly come out against requiring masks in schools even as the average number of daily COVID-19 cases in the state has risen since early June. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Collins)
Education More States Are Requiring Schools to Teach Native American History and Culture
Advocates say their efforts have gained some momentum with the nation’s reckoning over racial injustice since the killing of George Floyd.
3 min read
A dancer participates in an intertribal dance at Schemitzun on the Mashantucket Pequot Reservation in Mashantucket, Conn., Saturday, Aug. 28, 2021. Connecticut and a handful of other states have recently decided to mandate students be taught about Native American culture and history. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill)
Education Judge's Temporary Order Allows Iowa Schools to Mandate Masks
A federal judge ordered the state to immediately halt enforcement of a law that prevents school boards from ordering masks to be worn.
4 min read
Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds speaks to reporters following a news conference, Thursday, Aug. 19, 2021, in West Des Moines, Iowa. Reynolds lashed out at President Joe Biden Thursday after he ordered his education secretary to explore possible legal action against states that have blocked school mask mandates and other public health measures meant to protect students against COVID-19. Reynolds, a Republican, has signed a bill into law that prohibits school officials from requiring masks, raising concerns as delta variant virus cases climb across the state and schools resume classes soon. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Education Hurricane Ida Deals New Blow to Louisiana Schools Struggling to Reopen
The opening of the school year offered teachers a chance to fully assess the pandemic's effects, only to have students forced out again.
8 min read
Six-year-old Mary-Louise Lacobon sits on a fallen tree beside the remnants of her family's home destroyed by Hurricane Ida, in Dulac, La., on Sept. 4, 2021. Louisiana students, who were back in class after a year and a half of COVID-19 disruptions kept many of them at home, are now missing school again after Hurricane Ida. A quarter-million public school students statewide have no school to report to, though top educators are promising a return is, at most, weeks away, not months.
Six-year-old Mary-Louise Lacobon sits on a fallen tree beside the remnants of her family's home destroyed by Hurricane Ida, in Dulac, La., on Sept. 4, 2021.
John Locher/AP