Congress Eyes More Aid for N.S.F. School Efforts

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Washington--Several bills now pending in the Congress would significantly boost funding for the National Science Foundation's precollegiate-education programs.

The agency's education programs have been "severely shortchanged," the House appropriations panel with jurisdiction over the n.s.f. said in a report accompanying its fiscal 1988 spending measure.

"The unfortunate result of that longstanding policy is now being seen in the continuing decline of high-quality science and math teachers, students, curriculum, and equipment at the nation's secondary schools," the report said.

House and Senate legislation to reauthorize the agency's programs would increase its total funding ceiling by more than $200 million to $1.89 billion, the amount requested by the Administration; it would boost funding for education programs by more than the Administration's request. While appropriation measures for fiscal 1988 would not match those ceilings, they also would hand substantial increases to n.s.f.'s education efforts.

The House reauthorization bill that passed June 3, HR 2330, would redirect $25 million in spending authority from n.s.f.'s Antarctic research project and $13.5 million from other research programs to science education, in addition to the $16-million hike requested by the Administration.

Of the agency's $150 million in education funds, $56 million would be earmarked for teacher-training efforts; of that sum, $42 million would be focused on the precollegiate level, and $39 million would be earmarked for the development of educational materials.

The report accompanying the bill notes that education programs claimed about 30 percent of n.s.f. funds in the 1960's and make up only about 6 percent of the agency's budget now.

The companion Senate bill, S 1632, which has cleared committee but has not yet been considered on the floor, would provide a lesser increase for education programs.

Of the $125-million total, however, $73 million would be earmarked for unspecified precollegiate programs. The original Senate bill mirrored the Administration request of $115 million for education, but $10- million was redirected from research accounts by a committee amendment.

The Senate version of HR 2783, the 1988 appropriations bill that includes n.s.f., includes only $115 million for education efforts.

But the House version would supply the $145 million called for by that chamber's authorization measure and specifically targets $30- million for teacher training and $10- million for materials development at the precollegiate level.--jm

Vol. 07, Issue 06

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