On July 20, the Senate Appropriations Committee passed its FY 2007 appropriations bill for the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education (S. 3708). This bill would increase funding for the Education Department's Mathematics and Science Partnership (MSP) program over FY 2006 funding and over the request, but less than the amount recommended by House appropriators. It would also provide money for some, but not all, of the education-related initiatives proposed by President Bush in his American Competitiveness Initiative.
Although the appropriations committees in both chambers have now passed their respective versions of the Labor-HHS-Education spending bill, disputes over an amendment to raise the minimum wage have so far kept the bill from floor votes in either chamber. However, the Senate might address the minimum wage increase in a different bill before Congress leaves for its August recess.
MATHEMATICS AND SCIENCE PARTNERSHIPS:
Under the Senate Appropriations Committee bill, the Education Department's MSP program would be increased by $12.8 million, or 7.0%, from $182.2 million to $195.0 million. The Administration requested flat funding of $182.2 million; House appropriators would increase the program's budget to $225.0 million.
According to the Senate report (S. Rept. 109-287) accompanying S. 3708, "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 complementary Math and Science Partnership program within NSF is funded under the Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies appropriations bill. Senate appropriators' recommendations for NSF were addressed in FYI #92 (see http://www.aip.org/fyi/2006/092.html ). While that bill would increase funding for NSF's Education and Human Resources Directorate by 4.9%, it included no specific language on NSF's MSP program.
OTHER MATH/SCIENCE EDUCATION PROGRAMS:
Of the Education Department programs identified by President Bush as part of his American Competitiveness Initiative, Senate appropriators would provide funding for some but not others. They recommended $40 million for Math/Science Advanced Placement programs (the request was $122 million; the House bill would provide $80 million). Senate appropriators would provide $5 million for a National Math Panel (the House bill would provide the requested amount of $10 million). The Senate bill, like the House bill, includes no funds for the elementary and middle school Math Now programs (the request was $125 million for each).
The full text of the bill and its accompanying report can be found at http://thomas.loc.gov/.