American Geological Institute

Government Affairs Program


CONGRESSIONAL ACTION ALERT

Senate Eliminates Eisenhower Science Education Program

Posted September 22, 1997; Last updated December 11, 1997

Action Over...For This Year!

Current Status:
President Clinton signed the Labor, HHS, Education, and Related Agencies appropriations bill into law (PL 105-78) on November 13 after a lengthy House-Senate conference that concluded on October 30. One of the most controversial education issues, the amendment by Slade Gorton (R-WA) to Senate bill S.1061 to transfer funds from K-12 education programs into block grants, was resolved when conferees decided to adopt the House version and not include the block grant proposal. The Eisenhower Professional Development state grants program will therefore not lose its designation for teacher enhancement activities in science and math and will be funded at $335 million, more than originally proposed by the House or Senate. More information on the Eisenhower program is available on the AGI website.

Original Text of Alert (9-22-97)

In a blow to science education funding, the Senate has voted to eliminate the Department of Education's Eisenhower Professional Development Program, which provides funds for K-12 teachers to obtain additional training in science and math. By a 51-49 vote, the Senate amended the Labor/HHS/Education appropriations bill for fiscal year 1998 to shift all education programs into a single block grant. The House-passed version of this bill includes funding for the program, and the House and Senate are now meeting in conference to work out a final bill. President Clinton expressed his opposition to the Gorton amendment, stating "If necessary, I will use my veto power to make sure that no such provisions become the law of the land."

Action is needed to restore funding for the Eisenhower program. A letter from AGI President Edward C. Roy, Jr. is being sent to members of the House and Senate conference committee along with letters from the presidents of other scientific and professional societies that were signatories to a joint statement released in May in support of the Eisenhower Program. AGI and 11 of its member societies were among the more than 40 scientific and professional societies that signed on to the statement organized by the American Chemical Society.

We encourage AGI member societies to join this effort and to encourage their membership to contact members of the conference committee as well as their own representative and senators. Additional information on contacting your member of Congress is available on AGI's web site or at www.congress.org. Please send a copy of any letters sent to AGI's Government Affairs Program, 4220 King Street, Alexandria VA 22302, fax 703-379-7563; and feel free to contact us for more information at (703)379-2480 or govt@agiweb.org.

Background

The Eisenhower program, originally enacted in 1985, is a key resource to improve the quality of K-12 science and math education by providing locally organized professional enhancement opportunities for teachers of those subjects. The program distributes funds to states and school districts solely for the purpose of teacher enhancement in math and science. The Senate bill would also eliminate the Eisenhower National Clearinghouse, a national repository for K-12 science and math instructional materials, an well as an effective on-line searchable databases of materials and virtual resources to support the improvement of science and math education.

AGI and many of its Member Societies acted in support of the Eisenhower program last summer after the House voted to eliminate it during the fiscal year 1997 appropriations process. Funding was restored due to the strong support of Sen. Mark Hatfield (R-O R), then chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee. With Hatfield's retirement, the roles have been reversed. On September 10th, the Senate voted 51-49 in favor of an amendment to S. 1061, the Labor/HHS/Education appropriations bill for fiscal year 1998, that would transfer most education programs into an $11 billion block grant with no restrictions on how the money should be spent. According to the Triangle Coalition, "these cuts could be devastating to the reform efforts in science, mathematics, and technology education." The amendment was introduced by Sen. Slade Gorton (R-WA). As passed by the Senate Appropriations Committee, S. 1061 had included $310 million for the Eisenhower program, the same amount approved by the full House as part of H.R . 2264 last week.

More information on the program and legislative developments can be found on this web site.


Letter to Conference Committee from AGI President Roy

September 22, 1997

The Honorable John Edward Porter, Chairman
Subcommittee on Labor, HHS, Education, and Related Agencies
Committee on Appropriations
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, D.C. 20515

Dear Chairman Porter:

I am writing to express the American Geological Institute's support for the Department of Education's Eisenhower Professional Development Program and to urge you to oppose the Senate proposal to eliminate it. The Eisenhower 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 has also been targeted for elimination despite its effectiveness as a tool for science and math teachers looking for instructional materials and curriculum resources.

The Senate proposal to eliminate the program and transfer its funds into a non-targeted block grant provides no assurance that funds will be used for science and math educators where they are most needed. The Eisenhower program has been very efficient, limiting administrative spending to well under 10 percent, and thus maximizing the funds that go directly to teachers. With the recent publication of 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. As you and the other conferees make the hard choices in the days ahead, I urge you to support the Eisenhower Professional Development Program and National Clearinghouse as wise investments in the future.

AGI is a nonprofit federation of 31 geoscientific and professional associations that represent more than 100,000 geologists, geophysicists, and other earth scientists. Founded in 1948, AGI provides information services to geoscientists, serves as a voice of 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 our use of resources and interaction with the environment.

Sincerely yours,

Edward C. Roy, Jr.
President, American Geological Institute


Conference Committee Members

Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education
Committee on Appropriations
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, D.C. 20515-6024

Majority
John Edward Porter, Ill., Chairman
C.W. Bill Young, Fla.
Henry Bonilla, Texas
Ernest J. Istook, Jr., Okla.
Dan Miller, Fla.
Jay Dickey, Ark.
Roger F. Wicker, Miss.
Anne Northup, Ky.

Minority
David R. Obey, Wis., Ranking Member
Louis Stokes, Ohio
Steny H. Hoyer, Md.
Nancy Pelosi, Calif.
Nita M. Lowey, N.Y.
Rosa DeLauro, Conn.

Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education
Committee on Appropriations
U.S. Senate
Washington, D.C. 20510

Majority
Arlen Specter, Pennsylvania, Chairman
Thad Cochran, Mississippi
Slade Gorton, Washington
Christopher S. Bond, Missouri
Judd Gregg, New Hampshire
Lauch Faircloth, North Carolina
Larry Craig, Idaho
Kay Bailey Hutchison, Texas

Minority
Tom Harkin, Iowa, Ranking Member
Ernest F. Hollings, South Carolina
Daniel K. Inouye, Hawaii
Dale Bumpers, Arkansas
Harry Reid, Nevada
Herb Kohl, Wisconsin
Patty Murray, Washington

To call conference committee members or your own representative or senator, use the Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121. Letters should be addressed:

The Honorable _____________
U.S. Senate
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Senator ______:

or

The Honorable ______________
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515

Dear Representative ________:


Contributed by David Applegate, AGI Government Affairs

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

Last updated December 11, 1997


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