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FYI Number 27: March 9, 2001

Science and Math Education in the Bush Budget Request

The Administration's FY 2002 budget blueprint states that "bipartisan education reform is the cornerstone of President Bush's Administration," and calls particular attention to the need to improve math and science education. To achieve this, President Bush has proposed a new initiative for Math and Science Partnerships in which states, local school districts, and institutions of higher education would work together to strengthen teaching, instruction, curricula and standards for K- 12 math and science.

The Partnership proposal appears in "No Child Left Behind," Bush's education reform plan, which has generally been considered his outline for reform of Education Department programs through reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee has incorporated the partnerships into its ESEA legislation, which the committee is currently marking up. However, in Bush's FY 2002 budget request, the Math and Science Partnerships appear within the NSF section of the budget. It is not clear at this point how Congress will handle the partnership initiative, whether partnerships will be included in final Education Department or NSF reathorization legislation, whether they will receive funding through the appropriations process, and, if so, within which agency.

In the budget request, the partnership program within NSF would receive FY 2002 funding of $200 million, of which $110 million would be redirected from existing NSF education programs. Bush's education reform proposal does not specify a dollar amount for the partnerships, nor does it name a controlling agency. Text from the FY 2002 budget request relating to math and science education is quoted below.

Under the section "Strengthen and Reform Education," the blueprint says:

Bush proposes "supporting math and science partnerships among States, universities, and school districts to improve math and science K-12 education." His proposal would also consolidate and increase general "funds for teacher training and recruiting into a $2.6 billion fund that provides States the flexibility to improve teacher quality while ensuring increased accountability." Bush would also expand "existing student loan forgiveness limits from $5,000 to $17,500 for math and science majors who teach those subjects in high-need schools for five years."

Under the section on the National Science Foundation, the blueprint states:

"As America enters the 21st Century, many of our neediest students are being left behind. The current state of grade K-12 mathematics and science education in the United States raises significant warning signs. The most recent evidence of deficiencies in U.S. math and science education is from the Third International Math and Science Study, which measured American students in the fourth, eighth, and twelfth grades against comparable students in other countries. Although U.S. fourth graders did relatively well in both math and science, by twelfth grade, the last year of mandatory schooling, U.S. students were among the very worst in the world, and in some areas, such as physics, were last. This evidence indicates that our schools are not preparing our students adequately for today's knowledge- based, technologically rich society or to become future scientists and engineers. Among the underlying causes for the poor performance of U.S. students in the areas of math and science, three problems must be addressed: too many teachers teaching these subjects for which they have not been trained; too few students taking advanced coursework; and too few schools offering challenging curriculum and textbooks.

"To address these issues, the President is proposing that the National Science Foundation (NSF) initiate a Math and Science Partnership program to provide funds for States to join with institutions of higher education in strengthening K-12 math and science education. The higher education community recognizes that it has a vested interest in working to improve elementary and secondary math and science achievement. More than 20 States have begun to form partnerships with colleges and universities for the purpose of raising math and science standards for students, providing math and science training for teachers, and creating innovative ways to reach underserved schools. For 2002, the President is requesting $200 million for the Math and Science Partnership program and $1 billion over five years. States that access these funds will be required to establish partnership agreements with State colleges, universities, community colleges and school districts, with the goal of strengthening K-12 math and science education. The success of partnerships between States and institutions of higher education will be measured through performance indicators such as improving student performance on State assessments, increasing student participation in advanced courses in math and science and their success in passing advanced placement exams, and increasing the numbers of teachers that major in math or science."

"As part of the Math and Science Partnership initiative, $110 million is redirected from existing NSF education programs toward the initiative's $200 million level in 2002."

Bush's budget for NSF would also increase "graduate stipends for the Graduate Research Fellowships, the Graduate Teaching Fellowships in K-12 Education, and the Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeships programs. These funds will help attract the best students to pursue careers in science and engineering."

Audrey T. Leath
Media and Government Relations Division
American Institute of Physics
(301) 209-3094

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