As reported in FYI #55, the American Institute of Physics and seven of its Member Societies have joined over 50 organizations, under the auspices of the K-12 Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Education Coalition, to urge greater FY 2004 funding for the Education Department's Math and Science Partnerships. In a parallel effort initiated by Reps. Vern Ehlers (R-MI), Rush Holt (D-NJ), and Judy Biggert (R-IL), almost 40 House members signed a similar letter to key appropriators in the House.
While the Education Department's Partnership program was authorized at a level of $450 million in the "No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB)," it only received $12.5 million in FY 2002, with the same amount requested for fiscal years 2003 and 2004. Congress increased its funding to $100.4 million in FY 2003, just above the threshold to enable funding to be distributed to every state. The efforts described above now seek to increase the funding to $200 million in FY 2004, as continued progress toward full funding of $450 million by FY 2007, the year that NCLB requires schools to begin science assessments.
Both letters also support the National Science Foundation's Math and Science Partnership program, which received $127 million in FY 2003, and for which $200 million has been requested for FY 2004. The difference between the NSF and Education Department Partnership programs is spelled out in the Holt, Ehlers, Biggert letter.
Below is selected text from the April 28 K-12 STEM Education Coalition letter to House and Senate appropriators. Signatories include AIP and six of its Member Societies: the Acoustical Society of America, the American Association of Physics Teachers, the American Association of Physicists in Medicine, the American Astronomical Society, the American Geophysical Union, the American Physical Society, and the Optical Society of America. This letter is followed by the Holt, Ehlers, Biggert letter.
K-12 STEM EDUCATION COALITION LETTER:
"We are very grateful for your support of the U.S. Department of Education's (ED) Math and Science Partnership (MSP) program in the FY 2003 appropriations. Funding this program at $100 million transformed this initiative into a competitive, state-based program. Your leadership has set in motion a process that will lead to urgently needed professional development programs to ensure that our children are taught by highly qualified mathematics and science teachers.
"MSPs are designed to bring together all relevant stakeholders, including university or college engineering, mathematics or science departments, businesses, the state education agency and a local high-need school to address specific local needs. The program provides flexibility, allowing the partnerships to: Recruit, train and mentor new math and science teachers; Develop summer institutes and distance learning to provide ongoing professional development opportunities; Bring teachers together with scientists, mathematicians and engineers to enhance subject matter knowledge and teaching skills; Develop more rigorous curricula, aligned with challenging state and local standards, and consistent with post secondary expectations; Effectively integrate technology into the classroom; and Design programs to encourage young women and underrepresented minorities to pursue science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) careers.
"Improving the teaching and learning of mathematics and science will require a significant investment in teacher training. We believe it is necessary to provide reliable resources to these implementation systems. We urge you and your committee to commit to fully fund the MSPs by the time science assessments are required in the FY 2007. To that end, we urge you to provide $200 million in FY 2004.
"The National Science Foundation (NSF) has also launched a complementary Math and Science Partnership program, which we support, that seeks to develop ideal models and best practices via a competitive grant process. Yet, not every state will benefit from this program. The ED program is needed so that every state can develop the infrastructure to implement these best practices."
"We urge you to support our nation's K-12 mathematics and science education by progressively funding the Department of Education's Math and Science Partnership program to reach the authorized level of $450 million by FY 2007. Thank you for considering our request."
Selections from the April 11 Holt, Ehlers, Biggert letter to House appropriators follows:
HOLT, EHLERS, BIGGERT LETTER:
"As you consider your priorities for the fiscal year 2004 appropriations bill for Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, we encourage you to increase funding for the Math and Science Partnership program at the Department of Education to $200 million.
"We are very grateful for your support of $100 million for this program in the fiscal year 2003 budget. This is an important step toward fully funding the authorized amount of $450 million by the 2007-2008 school year, when science testing will also be required. An appropriation of $200 million in fiscal year 2004 will help ensure we reach this goal."
"The National Science Foundation (NSF) has also launched a complementary Math and Science Partnerships program. Through a competitive grant procedure, the NSF initiative is designed to develop model partnerships and best practices to improve science and math education. The ED partnerships would focus on implementing and scaling up the models and best practices identified by the NSF. However, since it is a competitive program, the NSF program will not provide every state with targeted funds for math and science professional development. In contrast, the ED partnerships -- if funded over $100 million – would provide much-needed funding to every state through formula grants.
"By creating the Math and Science Partnership program as part of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, Congress affirmed the critical importance of improving math and science at all grade levels.... We urge you to continue to improve our nation's K-12 math and science education by increasing funding for the Department of Education's Math and Science Partnership program."