Bush K-12 Science-Education Budget Seeks $660 Million Across 10 Agencies

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Washington--The Bush Administration's proposed budget for fiscal 1992 includes $660 million for precollegiate science- and mathematics-education programs, a 28 percent increase over this year's funding level and a near-doubling of 1990 funding, a report by an interagency group states.

The proposed increase is part of an overall $1.94-billion budget for science and math education at all levels, a 13 percent hike, according to the report.

D. Allan Bromley, assistant to the President for science and technology policy, called the report released last week the first-ever "inventory" of the federal investment in science and math education.

Using the report as a baseline, he added, the interagency group will in the coming year present "programs, plans, and priorities for how the nation can best move toward the ambitious goals the President and the governors established for the nation in science education."

In their joint statement last year, President Bush and the nation's governors pledged that U.S. students would be first in the world in science and math achievement by the year 2000.

Secretary of Energy James D. Watkins noted that the federal funds sought 0, while substantial, represent only a fraction of what is needed to attain the goals. He said the federal programs serve as leverage that will encourage action by state and local governments and businesses.

"We're talking about setting up a mechanism for potential links with the governors and the private sector," Secretary Watkins said. "We're [not] talking about the federal government solving the problems of mankind."

The report, "By the Year 2000: First in the World," is the first issued by the education and human-resources committee of the Federal Coordinating Council for Science, Engineering, and Technology, a group representing 16 Cabinet departments and other agencies.

The panel, chaired by Secretary Watkins, was created by Mr. Bromley last year in part to bring under one umbrella the various federal efforts in science education. In the past, science educators and members of the Congress have criticized the Administration for failing to provide a comprehensive strategy for the field. (See Education Week, Nov. 15, 1989.)

As its first effort, the panel combed each agency's budget to reveal the extent of its efforts in science and math education.

"The council found more activity than anticipated," said Luther S. Williams, director of the education and human-resources directorate of the National Science Foundation. "A significant fraction was below the budget line-item level."

The report found that, although the nsf and the Education Department provide the bulk--86 percent--of the spending on precollegiate programs, eight other agencies "also have a modest precollege investment that they are proposing to expand in fiscal year 1992."

Under President Bush's budget, total spending on such programs by all 10 agencies would increase by $146 million, to $660 million, next year, the report states. The total represents a 92 percent increase since fiscal 1990, it notes.

In addition to outlining the federal investment in math and science education, the council also set priorities for such programs. To meet the objectives of improving student performance, strengthening the teacher workforce, ensuring an adequate "pipeline" of science and technology workers, and enhancing public science literacy, the council proposed that agencies focus on four areas in precollegiate education: teacher preparation and enhancement, curriculum development, organization and systemic reform, and student incentives and opportunities.

In the student-incentive area, the report notes, the Administration has called for a new $40-million initiative. Under the plan, the Education Department would award grants to school districts where students have demonstrated high levels of improvement in math and science performance.

The report also notes that the nsf is expected to issue this year the first grants under its statewide systemic-initiatives program. Under that $31-million program, the agency will provide states about $1.7 million each a year for five years to support projects to overhaul their education systems. The Education Department, through the Eisenhower Mathematics and Science Education Program, will also support the initiative, the report notes.

As a next step, the report says, the council this year plans to evaluate the effectiveness of the programs included in the report. It is also expected to examine programs at the two-year-college level, as well as programs to promote public science literacy.

Single copies of the report are available free of charge by writing or calling Peggy Dufour, Committee on Education and Human Resources, Department of Energy, 1000 Independence Ave., S.W., Washington, D.C. 20585; (202) 586-7970.

Vol. 10, Issue 21

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