After some false starts amid partisan wrangling, the U.S. House of Representatives has approved a bill to reauthorize the America COMPETES Act, legislation that contains a strong focus on improving education in the STEM fields—science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.
The final vote late last month was 262-150, with 17 Republicans joining most Democrats in favor. Some Republicans say that the legislation’s price tag—about $86 billion over five years—is too high, and that the bill veers from the law’s original intent. However, Rep. Bart Gordon, D-Tenn., the chairman of the House Science and Technology Committee, said the bill is essential to the nation’s future.
“This bill is too important to let fall by the wayside,” Rep. Gordon said in a statement. “Research and education lead to innovation. Innovation leads to economic development and good-paying jobs, and the revenue to pay for more research.”
The bill reauthorizes a number of programs that support STEM education, including the $55 million Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship Program, which encourages talented STEM majors and professionals to become K-12 math and science teachers. It also has a provision designed to ensure better coordination of stem education activities across federal agencies.
The Senate has yet to take action on the reauthorization, and some analysts predict it may not pass the bill this year.
A version of this article appeared in the June 09, 2010 edition of Education Week as U.S. House Passes Measure Targeting STEM Improvement