Senate appropriators have now passed FY 2005 appropriations bills funding the Math and Science Partnership (MSP) programs in both the Education Department and NSF. Under these bills, the Partnership program at the Department of Education would receive a 34.3 percent increase over FY 2004 funding, while the NSF Partnership program would be cut by 21.0 percent.
DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION MSP PROGRAM:
Senate appropriators approved their Labor-HHS-Education bill last week. This bill (S. 2810), would provide $200 million for the Math and Science Partnership program at the Education Department. This is $51.0 million, or 34.3 percent, over the FY 2004 level. It is $69.0 million, or 25.7 percent, less than what the Bush Administration proposed for FY 2005, but the Administration request would have fenced off $120.0 million of that amount strictly for secondary math improvement, leaving $149.0 million for the broader Partnership program. The Senate bill does not include this restriction. House appropriators, who recommended $269.0 million for this program, did not include the restriction for secondary mathematics either. The full House has not yet passed this bill.
A selection from the Senate Appropriations Committee report (S. Rept. 108-345) follows:
"The Committee recommends $200,000,000 for the mathematics and science partnerships program. The comparable funding level for fiscal year 2004 is $149,115,000 and the budget request includes $269,115,000 for this purpose. These funds will be used to improve the performance of students in the areas of math and science by bringing math and science teachers in elementary and secondary schools together with scientists, mathematicians, and engineers to increase the teachers' subject-matter knowledge and improve their teaching skills. When the appropriation for this program is $100,000,000 or greater, the Secretary is authorized to award grants to States by a formula which includes consideration of the number of children aged 5 to 17 below the poverty line. States then are required to make grants competitively to eligible partnerships to enable the entities to pay the Federal share of the costs of developing or redesigning more rigorous mathematics and science curricula that are aligned with State and local standards; creating opportunities for enhanced professional development that improves the subject-matter knowledge of math and science teachers; recruiting math and science majors; and improving and expanding training of math and science teachers, including the effective integration of technology into curricula and instruction.
"The budget request includes a legislative proposal to allow the Secretary to use $120,000,000 in appropriated funds to make competitive awards to projects designed to improve the mathematics learning of secondary students. The Committee has not provided this requested authority."
NSF MSP PROGRAM:
Yesterday, the Senate Appropriations Committee also approved a VA/HUD spending bill (S. 2825). Within NSF, the Math and Science Partnership program would be funded at $110.0 million. This is $29.2 million, or 21.0 percent, less than FY 2004 funding of $139.2 million. But it is $30.0 million, or 37.5 percent, greater than the Administration's request, which proposed taking steps to phase out this program at NSF. The House-passed VA/HUD bill would provide $82.5 million for this program.
A quotation from the Senate Appropriations Committee report (S. Rept. 108-353) follows:
"[T]he Committee rejects the administration's request to transfer the Math and Science Partnership [MSP] program to 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. The Committee recommends that the MSP program be funded at $110,000,000."
There are indications that the FY 2005 Senate VA/HUD appropriations bill might come to the Senate floor within the next week.
K-12 STEM EDUCATION COALITION LETTER:
In light of the reductions proposed by the Administration to the NSF MSP program, the K-12 Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Education Coalition sent a letter to House and Senate members, urging them to "continue the federal commitment to science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education by adequately funding the National Science Foundation and providing at least $140 million for the peer-reviewed Math and Science Partnerships (MSPs), a level commensurate with FY 2004."
Six AIP Member Societies - the Acoustical Society of America, the American Association of Physics Teachers, the American Association of Physicists in Medicine, the American Physical Society, and the Optical Society of America - were signatories to this letter.