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FYI Number 149: December 13, 2001

Funding for Science Education Partnerships Uncertain at Last Minute

For readers who support substantial funding for the new Education Department Math and Science Partnerships to improve science education, there may still be time to make your voice heard, but time is short. Conferees are now working to complete the bill that funds this program and, according to reports, may be considering only minimal funding for the Partnerships.

As previously reported in FYI, the education reform legislation working its way through Congress (the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, known as ESEA), would establish in the Education Department a Math and Science Partnerships program intended to foster improvements in science and math education. This program would, in effect, replace the Eisenhower Professional Development program as the only effort within the Education Department with funds specifically designated for science and math education. As stated in FYI #146, the ESEA bill would authorize $450 million for the Partnerships in FY 2002. (NSF also has programs to improve science education, including $160 million in FY 2002 for its own version of Math and Science Partnerships, but in general its programs are not intended to have the broad, nationwide reach of Education Department programs.)

While ESEA - an authorization bill - can provide guidance to appropriators on funding levels, only an appropriations bill can provide the actual money. All Education Department programs are funded through the Labor, Health and Human Services and Education Appropriations bill. Members of the Labor-HHS-Education conference committee have been meeting this week to reconcile the House and Senate versions of their funding bill (H.R. 3061), and recent reports indicate they are considering minimal funding levels for the Math and Science Partnerships. (The appropriations bill would still contain substantial funding, on the order of $3 billion, for a broad range of activities to improve teaching and education under the heading of Teacher Quality, but no program other than the Partnerships specifically addresses science and math.)

The latest reports warn that the Labor-HHS-Education appropriations conferees may provide significantly less than $450 million - possibly in the range of $10-25 million - for the Partnership program, although the outcome remains uncertain. For comparison, last year the Eisenhower program received $485 million for teacher professional development activities, with $250 million of that specifically directed toward professional development in science and math.

Although the Labor-HHS-Education conferees are trying to wrap up their bill as soon as possible, they are now expected to meet again at least once early next week. Therefore, for readers who have an interest in this issue, there may still be time to let your Members of Congress know your views on H.R. 3061. Readers who are constituents of the Labor-HHS-Education conferees are most likely to have an impact.

The Labor-HHS-Education conference committee members are listed below. Their offices can be reached through the Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121. For Members' email addresses, see their Homepages, accessible through the House and Senate Directories under "Communicating with Congress" on AIP's Science Policy web page.

Ralph Regula (R-OH) Tom Harkin (D-IA)
Bill Young (R-FL) Ernest Hollings (D-SC)
Ernest Istook, Jr (R-OK) Daniel Inouye (D-HI)
Dan Miller (R-FL) Harry Reid (D-NV)
Roger Wicker (R-MS) Herb Kohl (D-WI)
Anne Northup (R-KY) Patty Murray (D-WA)
Randy Cunningham (R-CA) Mary Landrieu (D-LA)
Kay Granger (R-TX) Robert Byrd (D-WV)
John Peterson (R-PA) Arlen Specter (R-PA)
Don Sherwood (R-PA) Thad Cochran (R-MS)
David Obey (D-WI) Judd Gregg (R-NH)
Steny Hoyer (D-MD) Larry Craig (R-ID)
Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX)
Nita Lowey (D-NY) Ted Stevens (R-AK)
Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) Mike DeWine (R-OH)
Jesse Jackson, Jr (D-IL)  
Patrick Kennedy (D-RI)  


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

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