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FYI Number 100: August 2, 2001

Conferees Meet on ESEA Bill

After spending much of the spring working on legislation to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) - an effort that stalled completely last year - both the House and Senate have passed versions of the bill (H.R. 1). Members from both chambers have now been appointed to a conference committee and are beginning the process of reconciling the differing bill versions. President Bush is hoping that a final version of the bill can be worked out before Members of Congress leave on August 6 for a month-long recess, and in time for the beginning of the new school year.

However, key conferees, including Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee Chairman Edward Kennedy (D-MA) and House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman John Boehner (R-OH), are not expecting a final agreement to be reached before September. Major differences include amount of funding recommended, methods of assessing school performance and improvement, and how much flexibility states and local school districts have in using the federal money.

The members of the conference committee are listed below:

Senate Conferees   House Conferees
Edward Kennedy (D-MA)   John Boehner (R-OH)
Christopher Dodd (D-CT)   Tom Petri (R-WI)
Tom Harkin (D-IA)   Marge Roukema (R-NJ)
Barbara Mikulski (D-MD)   Howard McKeon (R-CA)
James Jeffords (I-VT)   Michael Castle (R-DE)
Jeff Bingaman (D-NM)   Lindsey Graham (R-SC)
Paul Wellstone (D-MN)   Van Hilleary (R-TN)
Patty Murray (D-WA)   Johnny Isakson (R-GA)
Jack Reed (D-RI)   George Miller (D-CA)
John Edwards (D-NC)   Dale Kildee (D-MI)
Hillary Clinton (D-NY)   Major Owens (D-NY)
Joseph Lieberman (D-CT)   Patsy Mink (D-HI)
Evan Bayh (D-IN)   Robert Andrews (D-NJ)
Judd Gregg (R-NH)   Tim Roemer (D-IN)
Bill Frist (R-TN)    
Mike Enzi (R-WY)    
Tim Hutchinson (R-AR)    
John Warner (R-VA)    
Christopher Bond (R-MO)    
Pat Roberts (R-KS)    
Susan Collins (R-ME)    
Jeff Sessions (R-AL)    
Mike DeWine (R-OH)    
Wayne Allard (R-CO)    
John Ensign (R-NV)    

Both versions of the bill promote math and science education by supporting some form of Math and Science Partnerships, a new initiative that would provide grants to partnerships including states, local school districts, university science and math departments, and possibly other partners, for the improvement of K-12 education in these areas. The House version of H.R. 1 would require states to use 15-20 percent of their Teacher Quality funding (provided to the states by formula grant) to make grants to partnerships involving a "high-need local education agency." The Senate version would authorize $900 million for grants to be awarded to partnerships by the Education Department, and cites a broader array of allowable activities than does the House bill. (See FYI #80 for more details of the two bills.)

The American Institute of Physics and three of its Member Societies have joined a number of other organizations in sending a letter to the conferees, supporting the highest possible funding level and the broadest array of partners and acceptable activities for the Math and Science Partnerships. The next FYI will contain the text of that letter.

Now is the time to contact the conferees if you want to make your views known. If you are seeking tips on writing to your Members of Congress, please see "Communicating with Congress" on our web site.


Audrey T. Leath
Public Information Division
American Institute of Physics
fyi@aip.org
(301) 209-3094

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