Federal

House Committee Backs Math-Science Bills

By Sean Cavanagh — June 13, 2006 3 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

A House committee approved a pair of bills last week aimed at bolstering mathematics and science education, even as rifts emerged between lawmakers and the White House over the best strategy for accomplishing that widely shared goal.

A bipartisan group of House Science Committee members on June 7 unanimously backed a bill that would greatly expand existing scholarship aid and teacher-training programs run by the National Science Foundation, an Arlington, Va.-based independent federal agency that has long backed efforts in those areas.

The legislation, sponsored by Rep. Joe Schwarz, R-Mich., and backed by the committee’s leadership, is one of several on math and science education to emerge on Capitol Hill in recent months. A second bill approved unanimously by the panel would expand federal support for math and science research.

President Bush, meanwhile, is promoting his own American Competitiveness Initiative, which calls for more investment in Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate math and science programs and greater federal promotion of effective math teaching strategies, among other steps.

But amid the calls for action, there appears to be disagreement over which federal agencies should lead such efforts, and where the greatest attention is needed.

The chairman of the Science Committee, Rep. Sherwood L. Boehlert, R-N.Y., in voicing support for the bill before the panel, argued against launching new federal programs in math and science. He believes existing NSF programs provide the infrastructure to accomplish those goals.

Money and Influence

“This measure is an intelligent middle ground between those who want to create scores of new, untested, expensive programs,” Mr. Boehlert said in reference to the scholarship and teacher-training bill, “and those who argue that all that’s necessary is to increase overall funding for basic research and leave everything else to chance.”

Both Rep. Boehlert and the ranking Democrat on the committee, Rep. Bart Gordon of Tennessee, voiced concern that the Department of Education, instead of the NSF, would play a larger role in math and science education under the president’s proposal.

The K-12 bill approved by the House Science Committee would greatly expand the NSF Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship Program, which provides money to students who major in math, science, or engineering in college and agree to teach in public schools. The program, named for a co-founder of the Intel Corp., also supports teacher training at higher education institutions. Funding for that program—one of several that would receive a budgetary increase under Mr. Schwarz’s proposal—would jump from $9 million in fiscal 2006 to $50 million in 2007.

A bill introduced in the Senate earlier this year, the Protecting America’s Competitive Edge Act, would create new grants and scholarships for math and science teachers, and expand AP and IB programs, under the direction of the Education Department. The House Science Committee bill backs an expansion of AP and IB programs within the NSF.

The House science panel’s vote came just two days after John H. Marburger III, the director of the White House science and technology policy office, wrote to Rep. Boehlert to voice concerns about the cost and effectiveness of the math and science bills.

Asia Report

The legislative activity also comes at a time when U.S. business leaders are voicing worries about the country’s ability to produce skilled workers and compete in the international economy. A report issued last week by the Asia Society, a New York City-based nonprofit that studies international education, traced strong math and science performance in China and other East Asian nations to national curricula, teacher-training, and significant time spent on academic tasks, among other factors.

Susan Traiman, the executive director of education and workforce policy at the Business Roundtable, a Washington-based group of major corporate executives, acknowledged her concern that math and science legislation might stall in Congress. Federal lawmakers, she said, could create some new programs by carving out money for them in the fiscal 2007 budget, rather than authorizing new legislation. She also hoped they would continue to take up math and science proposals that did not pass this year.

“We’re open to any process that would provide a vehicle to move this forward,” Ms. Traiman said. “There are a lot of ideas, but there’s some sentiment that we shouldn’t have any new programs.”

A version of this article appeared in the June 14, 2006 edition of Education Week as House Committee Backs Math-Science Bills

Events

Classroom Technology Webinar How Pandemic Tech Is (and Is Not) Transforming K-12 Schools
The COVID-19 pandemic—and the resulting rise in virtual learning and big investments in digital learning tools— helped educators propel their technology skills to the next level. Teachers have become more adept at using learning management
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
Student Well-Being Webinar
Building Teacher Capacity for Social-Emotional Learning
Set goals that support adult well-being and social-emotional learning: register today!


Content provided by Panorama
Jobs October 2021 Virtual Career Fair for Teachers and K-12 Staff
Find teaching jobs and other jobs in K-12 education at the EdWeek Top School Jobs virtual career fair.

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

Federal 'A Snitch Line on Parents.' GOP Reps Grill AG Over Response to Threats on School Officials
Attorney General Merrick Garland said his effort is meant to address violent threats against school boards, not to stifle parents' dissent.
5 min read
LEFT: Attorney General Merrick Garland speaks during a House Judiciary Committee oversight hearing of the Department of Justice on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Oct. 21, 2021. RIGHT: Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, questions Attorney General Merrick Garland.
Attorney General Merrick Garland, left, speaks during a House Judiciary Committee oversight hearing of the U.S. Department of Justice on Capitol Hill on Thursday, questioned by Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, right, among others.
Greg Nash via AP, Andrew Harnik/AP
Federal School Boards, 'Domestic Terrorism,' and Free Speech: Inside the Debate
From critical race theory to COVID policy, the heat on schools has raised issues involving free speech and the safety of public officials.
13 min read
Brenda Stephens, a school board member with Orange County Public Schools in Hillsborough, N.C. has purchased a weapon and taken a concealed carry class over concerns for her personal safety.
Brenda Stephens, a school board member in Hillsborough, N.C., says board members face threats and bullying, an atmosphere far different from what she's encountered in years of board service.
Kate Medley for Education Week
Federal Senate Confirms Catherine Lhamon to Civil Rights Post; Kamala Harris Casts Decisive Vote
Joe Biden's controversial pick to lead the Education Department's office for civil rights held that job in the Obama administration.
2 min read
Catherine Lhamon, nominee to be assistant secretary for civil rights at the Department of Education, testifies during a Senate Health, Education Labor and Pensions Committee confirmation hearing in Dirksen Building on Tuesday, July 13, 2021.
Catherine Lhamon, then-nominee to be assistant secretary for civil rights at the U.S. Department of Education, testifies during a Senate Health, Education Labor and Pensions Committee confirmation hearing in July.
Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call via AP Images
Federal White House Outlines COVID-19 Vaccination Plans for Kids 5-11
The Biden administration will rely on schools, pharmacies, and pediatricians to help deliver the COVID-19 shots to younger children.
3 min read
Ticket number 937 sits on a COVID-19 vaccination at the drive-thru vaccination site in the Coweta County Fairgrounds on Jan. 14, 2021, in Newnan, Ga.
A ticket number sits on a COVID-19 vaccination at the drive-thru vaccination site in the Coweta County Fairgrounds in Newnan, Ga.
Curtis Compton/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP