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AGI Fiscal Year 2007 Testimony to House Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee

Written Testimony Submitted by
Linda Rowan, Director of Government Affairs
American Geological Institute
to the U. S. House of Representatives
Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies
March 16, 2006

To the Chairman and Members of the Subcommittee:

Thank you for this opportunity to provide the American Geological Institute's perspective on fiscal year (FY) 2007 appropriations for the Department of Education. The President's FY 2007 request for the Department of Education places an emphasis on increasing U.S. competitiveness through math, science, and foreign language programs in keeping with the Administration's American Competitiveness Initiative announced in the President's State of the Union address. While $380 million is devoted to new funds for projects based on this initiative, these new funds would be offset by significant cuts to other programs within the Department of Education. The Department of Education budget would be reduced by $3.2 billion for a total requested budget of $54.4 billion. AGI strongly supports the President's initiative and in particular funding for improved science literacy for teachers and students, however, we do encourage the Subcommittee to retain and provide support for other proven and effective programs.

The National Math and Science Partnership (MSP) program as part of No Child Left Behind effectively strengthens K-12 science and math education. The President's request includes $182 million for the MSP program within the Department of Education, which is the same level of funding appropriated in FY 2006. AGI supports this stable funding and encourages appropriate emphasis on science education. Science often includes mathematical exercises applied to real-world problems, giving students a comprehensive and interesting learning experience.

The President's request for FY 2007 focuses much new spending on math education and less on science education. Funding proposals based on the initiative include $125 million for Math Now for elementary school students and $125 million for Math Now for middle school students, plus an additional $10 million to create a National Math Panel to review and develop math curricula. While a solid math education is important, additional funding should also be devoted to science education, which complements and expands upon a mathematical foundation to understanding and exploring how physical, chemical and biological processes work.

It is essential that highly qualified science teachers develop the energetic, eager and curious next generation of scientists and engineers. Skilled geoscientists and geoengineers, in particular, are needed to find, develop and maintain our energy, agricultural, water and air resources, to understand and mitigate natural hazards and to ensure an educated public with a general understanding of the Earth environment to enhance our public and private quality of life.

AGI is a nonprofit federation of 44 geoscientific and professional societies representing more than 100,000 geologists, geophysicists, and other Earth scientists. Founded in 1948, AGI provides information services to geoscientists, serves as a voice for shared interests in our profession, plays a major role in strengthening geoscience education, and strives to increase public awareness of the vital role the geosciences play in society's use of resources and interaction with the environment.

In 1999, the Third International Math and Science Study found that the longer U.S. students are in school, the farther they fall behind in math and science proficiency in international comparisons. That prompted President Bush to propose the National Math and Science Partnership (MSP) program as part of No Child Left Behind. The goal of the partnership program is to strengthen K-12 science and math education by promoting a vision of education as a continuum that begins with the youngest learners and progresses through adulthood with teacher training. Among its activities, the program supports partnerships that unite K-12 schools, institutions of higher education and private industry.

Congress took the President's suggestion and authorized an MSP program at the National Science Foundation (NSF) and another partnership program at the Department of Education in 2002. These acts of Congress fund two different types of partnerships to achieve the overall goal of highly qualified math and science teachers ensuring that all students have the basic knowledge to compete in the ever changing and competitive job market. The funds allocated for the NSF's MSPs go to the highest quality proposals chosen through a competitive peer-reviewed grant program. The program focuses on modeling, testing and identification of effective math-science activities. The funds allocated for the Department of Education MSPs go directly to the states as formula grants, providing funds to all states to replicate and then implement the best of the NSF partnerships throughout the country. Once states receive the money, they make competitive grants to local partnerships.

At a hearing in October 2003, the House Science Committee found that these new partnership programs are "on the right track toward improving math and science education." Testifying before the committee, M. Susana Navarro, executive director of the El Paso Collaborative for Academic Excellence MSP, said: "What the MSP now provides is an opportunity to bring together partners across the community, K-16, toward the shared development and implementation of high quality math and science content and instructional practices aimed at improving student achievement among all students."

The $120 million in funds for Secondary Education Mathematics Initiative is part of the overall High School Initiative, which will expand the application of No Child Left Behind principles to improve high school education and raise achievement, particularly the achievement of students most at risk of failure. This new initiative combines a number of categorical programs in order to give states and districts more flexibility and contains stronger accountability mechanisms.

AGI believes the two MSPs are the most effective approach to rapidly improving the abilities of all students to enhance their future prospects regardless of their ultimate career goals. The two programs, designed and authorized by Congress, are complementary. AGI supports funding at NSF for competitive grants for teaching tools and teacher training and funding at the Department of Education for formula grants for implementation of these tools in K-12 education. The peer-review process in the NSF program should be safeguarded as should the formula grants for all states as administered by the Department of Education. Moreover, the program within the Department of Education should not suffer a net reduction in funding in order to support a new initiative for mathematics. These funds should serve the Math and Science Partnership with no earmarks or set-asides.

Thank you for the opportunity to present this testimony to the Subcommittee. If you would like any additional information, please contact me at 703-379-2480, ext. 228 voice, 703-379-7563 fax,, or 4220 King Street, Alexandria VA 22302-1502.

Please send any comments or requests for information to AGI Government Affairs Program.

Posted: March 21, 2006


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