CONGRESSIONAL ACTION ALERT

Senate Education Bill Removes Eisenhower Science and Math Provisions

Posted: February 23, 2000


This update was originally sent out as an e-mail message to AGI's member societies.

IN A NUTSHELL:  Pressure to complete the reauthorization process for the comprehensive Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) is building. Unfortunately, the new draft bill from the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee removes support for professional development in math and science. AGI, along with 19 other science and engineering societies, signed a statement in support of the Eisenhower Professional Development Program that will be sent to members of the committee before they vote on the ESEA bill on March 1, 2000. AGI encourages geoscientists to communicate their support for improving the quality of math and science education.

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In 1985, the Dwight D. Eisenhower Mathematics and Science Education Act amended the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) of 1965 to include language specifically to provide funding for professional development opportunities for math and science educators. The program distributes funds to states and school districts solely for the purpose of teacher enhancement in math and science. In addition, 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. So far, it appears that the Eisenhower program is facing a hard battle in this year's ESEA reauthorization debate.  Several of the proposed ESEA reauthorization bills would make Eisenhower funds available for block grants without requiring states or local school agencies to verify that they are meeting the needs of math and science educators.

In October 1999, Senator James Jeffords (R-VT), Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, released a discussion draft of the Committee's ESEA reauthorization bill. This draft would have kept the Eisenhower program under Title II, the professional development section of ESEA. It would have maintained the program's focus on math and science educators and maintained support for professional development in the areas of science and math at the present level of $250 million.

The latest draft, released at the end of January, reverses this positive trend for science and math professional development. This draft would not only remove the set aside for Eisenhower but also would allow funds from the program to be converted into block grants that could be used for other purposes.  According to an alert from the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) -- http://www.nsta.org/lupdate/update000210.asp -- the new draft "allows for the Eisenhower program to be included into a block grant; although [local education areas] LEAs are 'required' to spend funds for professional development, there is no language authorizing a specific percentage or dollar amount that must be spent on teacher training. Consequently, administrators could spend $1 of these funds for professional development and satisfy the bill's requirement."

This year marks the fourth year in which professional development for science and math educators has been up for congressional elimination.  In response to the latest threat to the Eisenhower program, AGI has again joined with other science, math, engineering, and technology organizations to urge Congress, especially the Senate HELP Committee, to maintain the federal priority for math and science education - the statement is provided at the end of this alert. For more on ESEA reauthorization, see http://www.agiweb.org/gap/legis106/ike106.html. For more on previous AGI efforts to support the Eisenhower program, see http://www.agiweb.org/legis105/eisenhow.html.

We encourage AGI member societies to join this effort and to encourage their membership to contact members of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee as well as their own representatives and senators to support professional development opportunities for science and math teachers. The problem is particularly acute for earth science, where many teachers are being asked to teach courses without any background in the subject. Additional information on contacting your member of Congress is available on AGI's web site at http://www.agiweb.org/gap/ 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 ext. 212 or govt@agiweb.org. Below are the phone numbers and emails for the Senate HELP Committee.

Senator  Phone  E-mail

** Republicans **
James Jeffords (VT) 202-224-5141  vermont@jeffords.senate.gov
Judd Gregg (NH) 202-224-3324  mailbox@gregg.senate.gov
Bill Frist (TN)  202-224-3344  Senator_Frist@frist.senate.gov
Mike DeWine (OH) 202-224-2315  senator_dewine@dewine.senate.gov
Mike Enzi (WY) 202-224-3424  senator@enzi.senate.gov
Tim Hutchinson (AR) 202-224-2353  senator.hutchinson@hutchinson.senate.gov
Susan Collins (ME) 202-224-2523  senator@collins.senate.gov
Sam Brownback (KS) 202-224-6521  sam_brownback@brownback.senate.gov
Chuck Hagel (NE) 202-224-4224  chuck_hagel@hagel.senate.gov
Jeff Sessions (AL) 202-224-4124  senator@sessions.senate.gov

** Democrats **
Edward Kennedy (MA) 202-224-4543 senator@kennedy.senate.gov
Christopher Dodd (CT) 202-224-2823 sen_dodd@dodd.senate.gov
Tom Harkin (IA)  202-224-3254  tom_harkin@harkin.senate.gov
Barbara Mikulski (MD) 202-224-4654 senator@mikulski.senate.gov
Jeff Bingaman (NM) 202-224-5521  senator_bingaman@bingaman.senate.gov
Paul Wellstone (MN)  202-224-5641  senator@wellstone.senate.gov
Patty Murray (WA) 202-224-2621  senator_murray@murray.senate.gov
Jack Reed (RI) 202-224-4642  jack@reed.senate.gov

To call House Education and the Workforce 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 ________:
 


INTERSOCIETY STATEMENT ON K-12 SCIENCE & MATH EDUCATION

The science, mathematics, engineering, and technology communities strongly urge federal policymakers to make improved student learning in elementary and secondary science, mathematics, and technology education a national priority.  For the United States to sustain its economic growth and remain competitive in an increasingly global and technology-driven economy, we need to ensure that we have a scientifically and technologically literate citizenry and workforce.

Employers need workers who have critical reasoning skills and an understanding of scientific inquiry and the concepts of mathematics.  To achieve this, our citizens must have a solid education in the sciences, mathematics, engineering and technology.

Empirical evidence clearly shows that quality teachers impact student learning more than anything else.  Accordingly, we urge a bipartisan concerted effort that focuses on the recruitment, preparation, and professional development needs of our nation's science, mathematics, and technology education teachers.  In order to improve student achievement and the quality of their education, we recommend that policymakers:

American Association for the Advancement of Science
American Association of Engineering Societies
American Association of Physics Teachers
American Astronomical Society
American Chemical Society
American Geological Institute
American Institute of Physics
American Mathematical Society
American Physical Society
American Society of Mechanical Engineers, Board on Pre-College Education
American Society of Civil Engineers
Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc. - USA
International Technology Education Association
National Alliance of State Science and Mathematics Coalitions
National Association of Biology Teachers
National Council of Teachers of Mathematics
National Science Teachers Association
National Society of Professional Engineers
Society for Automotive Engineers International
Triangle Coalition for Science and Technology Education


Alert prepared by Margaret Baker, AGI Government Affairs Program

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

Uploaded February 23, 2000


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