In the House, a "Dear Colleague" letter is now being circulated for signatures in support of the President's FY 2007 request for the science and math education programs within the Department of Education. The letter, to the Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations subcommittee leaders Ralph Regula (R-OH) and David Obey (D-WI), was initiated by physicists Vern Ehlers (R-MI) and Rush Holt (D-NJ), and Mark Udall (D-CO) and Judy Biggert (R-IL). It notes that several recent reports and the President's American Competitiveness Initiative have emphasized the importance of strong science and math education to the nation's global competitiveness (see http://www.aip.org/fyi/2006/028.htmlfor more details on the budget request for these programs.)
March 16 is the deadline for House members to sign on to this letter to Regula and Obey, so time is of the essence if readers wish to contact their representatives and urge them to sign on. ( "Communicating with Congress" on the AIP Government Relations web site at http://www.aip.org/gov/commcong.html provides information on contacting Members of Congress.)
The text of the letter follows:
"Dear Chairman Regula and Ranking Member Obey:
"As your subcommittee considers its priorities for the fiscal year 2007 appropriations for Labor, Health and Human Services & Education, we respectfully request that you provide at least $562.2 million in funding to strengthen mathematics and science education, as requested in the President's budget.
"A resounding bipartisan chorus of business leaders, educators, Nobel laureates and other luminaries has called for improvements in our nation's math and science education. For example, in Tapping America's Potential: the Education for Innovation Initiative, 15 prominent business organizations called for doubling the number of science, technology, engineering and mathematics graduates with bachelor's degrees by 2015. In Rising Above the Gathering Storm, the National Academy of Sciences recommended ‘increasing America's talent pool by vastly improving K-12 science and math education.'
"We were delighted to learn that the President has joined this growing bipartisan chorus. His budget calls for $380 million, as part of the American Competitiveness Initiative, for proposals to strengthen the capacity of our schools to improve elementary and secondary instruction in math and science. Additionally, the President's budget requests $182.2 million for the Mathematics and Science Partnerships. Combined, the President's request for improving math and science education totals $562.2 million. We realize that portions of the American Competitiveness Initiative may require authorization legislation, and, at this time, we are not necessarily endorsing the specific provisions contained within this initiative. However, we respectfully request that your subcommittee fund the President's request by allocating at least $562.2 million toward improving math and science education.
"In particular, the Math and Science Partnerships provide necessary professional development, which strengthens the teachers' ability to effectively teach math and science and strengthens our students' math and science skills.
"Jobs of the future will require an understanding of the basic principles and concepts of math and science. Give our kids a chance - give them teachers who are trained to teach math and science properly and understandably. It is critical for our children's and our nation's future."