Provisions of Ehlers' Bills on Science and Math Education At an April 11 press conference, Rep. Vern Ehlers (R-MI) introduced three bills that address reform of science and math education in the nation (see FYI #39). "These bills represent the best achievable, practical solution to a very real problem," Ehlers stated in a press release. "They should be viewed as the first forward step in what will certainly be a long process to establish science, mathematics, engineering, and technology [SMET] education that is truly worthy of our country and our children." Below is a summary of the issues targeted in each bill:
H.R. 4271, THE NATIONAL SCIENCE EDUCATION ACT (NSEA):
A.) Teachers often lack sufficient time, resources and support to develop lesson plans and maintain equipment and materials; the bill would authorize NSF grants to public and private schools to hire Master Teachers to provide support and assistance to K-8 teachers.
B.) Teachers often do not get sufficient training to make the most effective use of education technologies and materials; the bill would direct NSF to make grants for professional development in educational technology use and integration.
C.) Science and math teachers have little opportunity to participate in practical research; the bill would create a national scholarship to reward teacher participation in research.
D.) High school students often are not aware of the courses needed to pursue a teaching career in college; the bill would establish a mechanism to inform students of the necessary high school courses to prepare for a career as a SMET teacher.
E.) School administrators are not always aware of the best educational programs; the bill would create a working group to identify and disseminate information about the best programs.
F.) There is a lack of consensus on the most effective uses of technology in the classroom; the bill would require a study to evaluate the uses of educational technology.
G.) Teachers have limited access to information on the newest SMET educational programs; the bill would increase access by requiring information on NSF-sponsored programs to be posted on the NSF web site.
H.) Some teachers lack a solid foundation in technology; the bill would provide access to technology training for middle school teachers.
I.) Students in rural areas may not receive the same access to educational opportunities, such as museums and laboratories, as other students; the bill would support distance learning components of NSF-funded SMET grants.
J.) There is a need for more and better educational software; the bill would create a competition for high school and college students to develop educational software.
K.) Students in the nation's poorest schools have fewer opportunities to learn using the latest information technology and often cannot afford the necessary higher education for a career in IT; the bill would establish a pilot program to encourage private sector contributions and involvement in IT programs in the neediest schools.
L.) Private sector participants in education lack a mechanism to share information and expertise; the bill would require an NSF conference to encourage interactions among private sector educators.
H.R. 4272, THE NATIONAL SCIENCE EDUCATION ENHANCEMENT ACT (NSEEA):
A.) Novice teachers are often insufficiently supported; this bill would authorize mentors for novice teachers.
B.) Available professional development programs for teachers are frequently not adequate; the bill would authorize peer-reviewed quality summer professional development institutes.
C.) Schools often do not have sufficient resources to provide both educational technology equipment and the necessary teacher training to use it; the bill would provide the necessary teacher training and instructional materials.
D.) Not all teachers are technologically literate; the bill would give college students work-study credits for helping train K-12 teachers in technology.
E.) Teachers lack sufficient time and resources to seek out the best supplemental materials; this bill would enhance the Eisenhower National Clearinghouse to include evaluations, a comprehensive database, and a web-based search engine.
F.) Many federally-funded after-school programs do not have an academic component; the bill would create after-school science day care programs.
H.R. 4273, THE NATIONAL SCIENCE EDUCATION INCENTIVE ACT (NSEIA):
A.) Large school loans and low salary deter many prospective teachers; this bill would provide tax credits for a specified percentage of college tuition.
B.) Teachers rarely have the opportunity to participate in research in their field; this bill would provide Externships for practical research experience.
C.) Many private companies provide training workshops and classes for their employees; the bill would establish a tax credit for companies to let teachers participate as well.
D.) Private sector school, technology and laboratory supply businesses have no incentive to donate needed equipment to schools; the bill would establish a tax credit for such donations.
E.) Private sector companies have no incentive to donate expertise in workforce training; the bill would establish a tax credit for private sector contributions to K-12 instruction.
Audrey T. Leath