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FYI Number 153: December 28, 2001

Science and Math Education Funding Drops for FY 2002

House and Senate conferees reached agreement on the FY 2002 Labor-HHS-Education appropriations conference report (H.Rept. 107-342) late on December 18. As recent news reports indicated, the conferees appropriated only minimal funding - $12.5 million - for the newly-established Math and Science Partnerships to improve science and math education. These partnerships replace the Eisenhower Professional Development program as the only Department of Education program with funding specifically designated for science and math. Last year, $250 million in Eisenhower funding was set aside strictly for teacher improvement in science and math, so targeted federal funding within the Education Department for science and math has dropped from $250 million to $12.5 million. However, in their conference report, the conferees encouraged states to continue making science and math instruction a high priority by also using other federal funds available for teacher improvement.

Just a few days earlier, on December 13, Congress passed its reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), a massive bill reforming, consolidating, and streamlining many Education Department programs. As part of this reform, the Eisenhower program was consolidated with the Class Size Reduction program into a broader program for improving teacher quality in general. Also in this bill, the Math and Science Partnerships program was created and authorized at $450 million (see FYI #146 for details).

While the ESEA bill - an authorization bill - established the Partnerships, the Labor-HHS-Education appropriations bill does not provide the full $450 million recommended in ESEA, providing instead only $12.5 million for this program. However, appropriators also provided another $2.85 billion for the broad Teacher Quality category, and the conference report language urges states not to neglect this additional source of funding for bettering science and math education:

"The conferees note that, although this [partnerships program] is a separate program designed specifically for the development of high quality math and science professional development opportunities, in no way do the conferees intend to discourage the Secretary and States from using other federal funding for math and science instructional improvement programs. The conferees strongly urge the Secretary and States to utilize funding provided by the Teacher Quality Grant program, as well as other programs funded by the federal government, to strengthen math and science education programs across the Nation."

The conference report states that an estimated $375 million was spent to improve science and math education last year, and urges the states and the Secretary of Education to maintain at least comparable funding in FY 2002:

"The Eisenhower program required that a minimum of $250,000,000 be dedicated to math and science professional development activities; however, the conferees understand that as much as $375,000,000 was actually expended on math and science in fiscal year 2001. The conferees believe that providing high-quality math and science instruction is of critical importance to our Nation's future competitiveness, and agree that math and science professional development opportunities should be expanded. The conferees therefore strongly urge the Secretary and the States to continue to fund math and science activities within the Teacher Quality Grant program at a comparable level in fiscal year 2002."

So, while Department of Education funding specifically designated for the improvement of science and math education has dropped from $250 million in FY 2001 to $12.5 million in FY 2002, it is apparent that states last year used more than just $250 million of their federal education funds on science and math. It can be hoped that the states will utilize the $2.85 billion in teacher quality money available to them this year to continue placing a high priority on these areas. In addition, the partnerships are a new vehicle for focusing on science and math education reform, with a broad array of allowable activities, and may be treated more generously in future years. It is also worth recalling that appropriators, in the FY 2002 VA/HUD appropriations bill, provided another $160 million for similar partnerships to be awarded by NSF.

The complete Labor-HHS-Education conference report language on the Math and Science Partnerships will be provided in FYI #154.

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

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