In marking up their FY 2006 Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations bill last week, Senate appropriators were not as generous as were their House counterparts to the Education Department's Math and Science Partnership program.
The Senate version of the Labor-HHS-Education funding bill (H.R. 3010), would provide $178.6 million for the Math and Science Partnership (MSP) program at the Department of Education. This is equal to the FY 2005 funding level for this program. The House version of the bill recommended $190.0 million, an increase of 6.4 percent.
The Administration requested $269.0 million in FY 2006 funding for the Education Department's MSP program, but planned to set aside $120.0 million of this amount for a competitive grant program dedicated strictly to improving high school mathematics. This would have left only $149.0 million - effectively a $29.6 million decrease from the FY 2005 level of $178.6 million - for the broader Math and Science Partnership program, which is intended to promote improvements in science and math education at the elementary and secondary level through partnerships among states, school districts, university science or math departments, and other eligible partners. In a repeat of last year's appropriations process, neither the House nor the Senate bill agreed to provide this requested set-aside for secondary mathematics.
Below is the relevant committee report language on the MSPs from Senate Report 109-103:
"The Committee recommends $178,560,000 for the mathematics and science partnerships program. The comparable funding level for fiscal year 2005 is $178,560,000 and the budget request includes $269,000,000 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 legislative language that would 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."
The Improving Teacher Quality State Grants, which may be used to improve teaching in all fields, were level-funded at the FY 2005 level of $2.9 billion. This is the same as the request, and the same as the House recommendation.
The Senate bill, like its House counterpart, does not include any funding for President Bush's proposal to expand student testing and accountability to high schools. The committee report states, in part, "As noted earlier, the High School Reform proposal has not been considered by the appropriate authorizing committees of Congress, so the Committee has not included the legislative language or provided the requested funds."
The full text of the committee report is available at http://thomas.loc.gov/home/approp/app06.html.