American Geological Institute

Government Affairs Program


Update on the Eisenhower Professional Development Program (12-31-98)

Most Recent Action
After several threats of block granting and reduced funding, the Eisenhower Professional Development Program received level funding in FY99 at $335 million. More information on the appropriations process is available on the AGI website. Several bills were introduced during this session of Congress to change the Eisenhower Program, but none moved out of committee. On February 25, 1997, Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) introduced S. 351, which would add technology to the core subject areas in the Eisenhower program. The bill was referred to the Senate Committee on Labor and Human Resources. A related bill, H.R. 1572 was introduced in the House by Rep. Connie Morella (R-MD) on May 8, 1997 and subsequently referred to the House Committee on Education and the Workforce and its Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Youth and Families.

AGI was involved in several efforts to support the Eisenhower Program. For the third year in a row, AGI and many of its member societies joined with other scientific and educational societies to send a letter supporting the Eisenhower Professional Development Program to the President and Congress. The statement is similar to one AGI joined in May 1997 in support of the Eisenhower program. AGI provided the following letter in response to a notice that the Department of Education placed in the June 2, 1998 Federal Register. As Congress prepares to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, the Department of Education sought comments on the vast majority of K-12 federal education programs included within that legislation. The letter draws on AGI's participation in the Intersociety Statement on the Eisenhower Program and on a letter sent by then-AGI President Ed Roy last September to Rep. John Porter (R-IL), chairman of the House Appropriations subcommittee responsible for Department of Education funding.

Background
The Eisenhower Professional Development Act was originally enacted in 1985 to provide funding for professional development opportunities for math and science educators. The program was reauthorized for an additional five years as Title II of the Improving America's Schools Act of 1994 (IASA). It is designed to enable teachers to have access to quality professional development that is consistent with their state's content and teaching standards. For the full text of the reauthorized Eisenhower program, visit the legislation section of the Department of Education's website.

Congress has authorized funds for the Eisenhower program that may be used to provide seed money to allow educational entities to improve professional development offerings for teachers, to establish the Eisenhower National Clearinghouse for Mathematics and Science Education, and to evaluate programs developed under the Eisenhower program. The Eisenhower National Clearinghouse for Mathematics and Science Education is a permanent repository of instructional materials and programs to be used in elementary and secondary schools. The website includes articles discussing new ideas for science and math education as well as success stories. Also included are instructional materials for K-12 that can be ordered, including many on geology and geoscience.

The IASA mandates that at least $250 million of appropriated funds are used for professional development in mathematics and science. State and local activities receive the most Eisenhower funds (94 percent), while the Clearinghouse receives five percent and the National Teacher Training Project receives one percent. For more information on how to obtain Eisenhower funds, visit the National Science Teachers Association web site.

The Goals 2000: Educate America Act reauthorized the ESEA in 1996, providing flexibility to states and school districts so that they might adapt federal education programs to suit their individual needs. Included in the Act are allowances for waivers of federal program requirements, including those of the Eisenhower program.  States can request waivers that would allow them to use Eisenhower funds for professional development in areas other than math and science. Although there has been concern within the scientific community about waivers decreasing the effectiveness of Eisenhower, a Department of Education representative reassured scientific societies that these waivers give local communities the chance to foster student achievement and to further the goal of the program- in this case, professional development. The waiver is not a "get out of jail free" card with respect to the educational requirements.  If a waiver is used, however, it must address specific critical needs. For example, a state with a large immigrant population might use the waiver to provide funding for professional development in a foreign language.  In this sense, waivers allow school districts to better carry out the various educational requirements.  States must apply for waivers and in the application they must indicate how the parties not receiving the Eisenhower funds will be assisted with professional development.

The Eisenhower program was threatened during the appropriations stage of the budget process for FY 1997 when the House Appropriations subcommittee on Labor/Health and Human Services/Education eliminated support for it in the appropriations bill. However, funding for the program was ultimately restored when the subcommittee chair, Rep. John Porter (R-IL), yielded to program supporters in the Senate and changed his decision to terminate the program. The lead supporter in the Senate was Senate Appropriations Committee chair Mark Hatfield (R-OR). Finally, the funding became part of the omnibus appropriations package that was passed by Congress and ultimately signed by President Clinton. The program was funded at $310 million, which is $35 million more than the FY 1996 level. For a summary of AGI's action on this issue last year, visit GAP's Congressional Action Alert website.

As Congress prepares to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, the Department of Education sought comments on the vast majority of K-12 federal education programs included within that legislation. AGI provided the following letter in response to a notice that that the Department of Education placed in the June 2, 1998 Federal Register. The letter draws on AGI's participation in the Intersociety Statement on the Eisenhower Program and on a letter sent by then-AGI President Ed Roy last September to Rep. John Porter (R-IL), chairman of the House Appropriations subcommittee responsible for Department of Education funding.


AGI letter in response to a notice that that the Department of Education placed in the June 2, 1998 Federal Register:

July 17, 1998

The Honorable Judith Johnson, Deputy Assistant Secretary
Office of Elementary and Secondary Education
U. S. Department of Education
600 Independence Avenue, SW (Portals Building, Room 4000)
Washington, DC 20202-6132
E-mail: Frances_Shadburn@ed.gov

Dear Ms. Johnson:

This message is in response to the request for comments and suggestions on the Department of Education's K-12 education programs that appeared in a notice in the Federal Register on June 2, 1998. I am writing in support of the Eisenhower Professional Development Program on behalf of the American Geological Institute, a federation of 32 geoscientific and professional societies representing over 100,000 geologists, geophysicists, and other earth scientists. AGI and a number of its member societies were signatories to the Intersociety Statement on the Eisenhower Program sent to Congress last month supporting the program and stating the opposition of the science, mathematics, and engineering community to proposals to transfer the program into an educational block grant to the states. That statement is appended below.

AGI believes that the Eisenhower Professional Development Program is a key resource to improve the quality of K-12 science and mathematics education by providing locally organized professional enhancement opportunities for teachers of those subjects. The Eisenhower National Clearinghouse is an effective tool for science and math teachers looking for instructional materials and curriculum resources. The Eisenhower programs have been very efficient and should continue to strive to minimize administrative spending and maximize the funds that go directly to teachers. There is some concern within our community over the practice of obtaining waivers to use Eisenhower funds for other purposes, and we urge the Department to closely examine this practice.

With the recent publication of the National Science Education Standards by the National Academy of Sciences, there is a great deal of opportunity for innovative science and math education that can capture the imagination of the next generation, helping it to meet the great challenges ahead. The Eisenhower Professional Development Program and National Clearinghouse are wise investments in the future.

At AGI, we believe that the earth sciences are a critical part of the K-12 curriculum and encourage the Department to continue its support of professional development in this broad discipline. Nothing is more familiar and applicable for children than an understanding of their home planet and its processes which affect them every day, making earth science a wonderful tool for increasing children's interest in science and for communicating its relevance to them and their parents.

Thank you for this opportunity to comment on the Eisenhower programs. As the Department prepares for the upcoming congressional reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, AGI stands willing to be of assistance. Please contact me if you have any questions about this message. I can be reached at (703) 379-2480 or (applegate@agiweb.org).

Sincerely yours,

David Applegate, Ph.D.
Director of Government Affairs
American Geological Institute

Enclosure:

INTERSOCIETY STATEMENT ON THE EISENHOWER PROGRAM
June 1998

The science, mathematics, and engineering community remains steadfastly opposed to proposals to transfer the U.S. Department of Education's (DoEd) Eisenhower programs into an education block grant to the states. If Eisenhower funding is shifted into a broader block grant, the resources available to states and localities specifically for mathematics and science education will be dramatically reduced. Such a change grossly undermines our nation's efforts to improve student achievement in these subjects.

The Eisenhower Professional Development State Grants Program provides states the necessary funds and flexibility to enhance the content and pedagogical knowledge of their K-12 teachers. With almost 75 percent of these funds reserved for science and mathematics teachers, the Program's focus has prevented its monies from being spread thinly and broadly, which would have reduced their impact. Moreover, Eisenhower's designation encourages states to leverage professional development funds from other sources--such as the National Science Foundation (NSF), private foundations and companies, and state and local governments--to optimize their value and effectiveness.

Increased K-12 enrollment and teacher retirement rates over the next decade promise to make staffing our schools with qualified science and mathematics teachers a daunting challenge. Results from the Third International Mathematics and Science Study make it clear this challenge must be met. Teachers who possess the content knowledge in these subjects and practice effective pedagogical techniques will be vital to ensure not only that our students attain the highest possible levels of achievement in science and mathematics, but also that our country maintains a productive workforce, strong economy, and high standard of living. The Eisenhower State Grants program is critical to providing our schools with the effective science and mathematics teachers that our students deserve and must have to succeed.

Eisenhower Federal Activities and the Eisenhower Regional Mathematics and Science Education Consortia are equally important in our efforts to improve mathematics and science education. The regional consortia, for instance, provide needed services to states and districts such as reports and workshops on state-of-the-art materials, practice, and research results in mathematics and science education. Moreover, these programs are the DoEd's sole source of funding to implement a promising new Action Strategy for Improving Achievement in Mathematics and Science that was developed jointly with the NSF.

We urge the 105th Congress to demonstrate its commitment to quality education by excluding the Eisenhower programs from any education block grant proposals and to maintain the science and mathematics designation within these programs.

Aerospace States Association
Acoustical Society of America
American Association of Physicists in Medicine
American Association of Physics Teachers
American Astronomical Society
American Chemical Society
American Geological Institute
American Institute of Physics
Association for Women Geoscientists
Association of State Supervisors of Mathematics
Conference Board of the Mathematical Sciences
Council of Scientific Society Presidents
Geological Society of America
Georgia Youth Science & Technology Centers, Inc.
Geoscience Information Society
Joint Policy Board for Mathematics
Mathematical Association of America
National Alliance of State Science and Mathematics Coalitions
National Association of Biology Teachers
National Association of Geoscience Teachers
National Association of State Boards of Geology
National Council of Teachers of Mathematics
National Earth Science Teacher Association
National Science Teachers Association
National Society of Professional Engineers
National Stone Association
North Carolina Aggregates Association
Society of Economic Geologists
Society of Vertebrate Paleontology
Soil Science Society of America
The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers-USA
Triangle Coalition for Science and Technology Associations

Sources: National Science Teachers Association; Department of Education; Kay McGrath, American Chemical Society


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

Contributed by Stephanie Barrett and Shannon Clark, AGI Government Affairs Interns
Last updated December 31, 1998
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