Legislative Update
National Science Teachers Association
July 5, 2005

As Congress moves into the July 4 recess, here is an update on the status of specific FY2006 legislation for STEM education programs. Watch for more information on these bills in future issues of the NSTA Legislative Update.

House of Representatives:

Department of Education: The House passed the Labor, Health and Human Services and Education (Labor-HHS) appropriations bill, H.R. 3010, on June 24. Department of Education Math and Science Partnerships (MSPs) received $190 million, approximately $11 million higher than FY2005 funding, less than $269 million requested by the Administration.

National Science Foundation: On June 16, the House passed H.R. 2862, the FY2006 Science, State, Justice and Commerce (SSJC) appropriations bill. This bill funds education programs at the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). The bill provides $5.64 billion in funding for the NSF, $38 million above the President’s FY2006 request and $171 million over FY2005.

The NSF Education and Human Resources (EHR) Directorate, which funds the vast majority of K-12 programs such as the NSF MSPs and programs under the Elementary, Secondary, and Informal Education division, received $807 million, which is $70 million above the President’s request, but below the $841 million that EHR programs received in FY2005 and $944 million received in FY2004.

The House SSJC bill also contains language that will create a commission, chartered by the National Science Board (NSB), the oversight body for the NSF, that will make recommendations to improve science education.

According to a June 29 article in Ed Daily (ED), “scientists and educators praised the move [to create the commission], but said it reveals Congress' conflicting priorities: The same bill cuts the NSF's science education programs by $34.4 million, to $807 million—the second cut in as many years (ED, June 24).… ‘This is very timely, because the cuts in NSF have been very detrimental to science education,’ said Jodi Peterson, legislative affairs director for the National Science Teachers Association. ‘We really need to get support for K-12 science programs, and this commission is a great first step.’”

A letter sent to NSB Chairman Warren Washington by the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Education Coalition is also quoted in the article, stating "the NSF is the only agency that supports the kind of research and development that brings advances in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics to the classroom."

Senate:

National Science Foundation: On June 23 the Senate Appropriations Committee marked up the Commerce, Justice Science appropriations bill. The bill itself does not make specific program allocations at NSF, but the report language sets Education and Human Resources Directorate (EHR) funding at $747 million—$10 million above the President’s request. The report language states that ESPCoR funding is $6 million over the President’s request and MSP funding is $4 million over the request. Therefore, we can assume the remaining EHR programs are either at or are very close to the President’s request ($737m for EHR programs)

Report language says “The Committee rejects the administration’s continued request to have the Math and Science Partnerships (MSP) program only exist at the Department of Education. Current activities initiated by MSP are only beginning to provide measurable results and have yet to be ready for implementation on a nationwide basis. The MSP program is an important asset in providing improved math and science education by partnering local school districts with faculty of colleges and universities. For this purpose an increase of $4,000,000 above the budget request is provided to the MSP program to be used to fund activities that are not being addressed by the companion program at the Department of Education.”

Report language says “The Committee strongly encourages NSF to continue support for undergraduate science and engineering education. At a time when enrollment in STEM fields of study continues to decline, it is important that NSF use its position to support students working towards degrees in these areas.”

Department of Education: The Senate Labor-HHS Subcommittee is expected to mark up its bill on July 12. The full Senate Appropriations Committee will mark up on July 14.

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