NSTA Legislative Update
January 29, 2007


President Unveils Plans for Math and Science Education

For the second year in a row math and science education were mentioned in the President’s State of the Union address to Congress, televised live on January 23. From the address:

“Five years ago, we rose above partisan differences to pass the No Child Left Behind Act, preserving local control, raising standards, and holding those schools accountable for results. And because we acted, students are performing better in reading and math, and minority students are closing the achievement gap.
Now the task is to build on the success, without watering down standards, without taking control from local communities, and without backsliding and calling it reform. We can lift student achievement even higher by giving local leaders flexibility to turn around failing schools, and by giving families with children stuck in failing schools the right to choose someplace better. We must increase funds for students who struggle -- and make sure these children get the special help they need. And we can make sure our children are prepared for the jobs of the future and our country is more competitive by strengthening math and science skills. The No Child Left Behind Act has worked for America's children -- and I ask Congress to reauthorize this good law.”

The next day a more detailed plan on the President’s plan to strengthen No Child Left Behind was released. In addition to addressing key issues such as clear the use of growth models, the Striving Readers program, and vouchers, the President called on Congress to incorporate key education components of the American Competitiveness Initiative into the reauthorization of NCLB. In regard to science and math education, the President proposes this year to:

For more information on The No Child left Behind Building on Results: A Blueprint for Strengthening the NCLB Act, visit http://www.ed.gov/policy/elsec/leg/nclb/buildingonresults.pdf.

The Administration will release its budget for these and other proposed programs for FY2008 on February 5. Stay tuned.

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Congress Hopes to Finish Work on FY2007 Appropriations Soon

Before the President releases the budget for FY2008, Congress hopes to complete work on spending for FY2007 federal programs which began on October 1, 2006.
As reported in the December 18 issue of NSTA Express, Congress only passed two federal spending bills for FY2007 last year and has passed a number of Continuing Resolutions (CR) to keep the federal government operating. Last month Appropriations Chairs Senator Robert Byrd (D-WV) and Congressman David Obey (D-WI) announced they do not want to pass another short term CR (the current one will expire on February 15) and hope to pass an omnibus bill for FY2007 based on FY2006 spending. This would mean that funding would be flat for most federal programs and proposed increases for FY2007 programs at the National Science Foundation would be lost. The measure is expected to go to the House floor on January 31.

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Rep. Ehlers and Hinojosa Seek Co-Sponsors for the SPEAK Act

Representatives Vernon Ehlers and Ruben Hinojosa have issued a Dear Colleague letter seeking House co-sponsors for the Standards to Provide Educational Achievement for Kids (SPEAK) Act. Read more about the legislation and the Ehlers/Hinojosa Dear Colleague letter (http://science.nsta.org/nstaexpress/colleague3.pdf) and ask your House representative to co-sponsor this legislation by forwarding him this information; you can access your Representatives e-mail at http://www.house.gov/house/MemberWWW.shtml.

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Rep. Gordon Re-Introduces Legislation Based on Rising Above the Gathering Storm

Finally, on January 10 Representative Bart Gordon (D-TN), chairman of the House Committee on Science and Technology re-introduced several pieces of legislation he authored in the 109th Congress. The 10,000 Teachers, 10 Million Minds Science and Math Scholarship Act (H.R. 362) implements most of the K-12 science education recommendations of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) report, Rising Above the Gathering Storm: Energizing and Employing America for a Brighter Economic Future.

It establishes a teacher education program at the National Science Foundation (NSF) to encourage math, science and engineering faculty to work with education faculty to improve the education of science and math teachers and to provide scholarships to science, math and engineering students who commit to become science or math teachers at elementary and secondary schools. The bill also authorizes summer teacher training institutes at NSF and the Department of Education to improve the content knowledge and pedagogical skills of in-service science and math teachers, including preparing them to teach Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate courses in science and math. It requires that NSF include support for master’s degree programs for in-service science and mathematics teachers within the NSF Math and Science Partnerships; and authorizes funding for the NSF STEM Talent Expansion program and expands the program to include centers for improving undergraduate STEM education.

In a press statement Rep. Gordon said that this bill, and three other bills introduced as part of an innovation package, will be among the first that his committee will consider.

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