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FYI Number 102: August 3, 2001

Action on Bills Affecting Science Education

As Congress heads into its August recess next week, action continues on a number of K-12 education bills. Below is a clarification on the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) that is currently in conference, and updates on several other bills related to science and math education.

Elementary and Secondary Education Act

FYI #100 described the current status of this reauthorization effort. For clarification, the original House version of the bill was H.R. 1, and Senate version was S.1. However, on the floor, the Senate substituted its bill language into H.R. 1 and passed the bill under that number. So the conference committee is now working to reconcile the two differing versions of H.R. 1, and will continue its work when Congress returns on September 4. Both versions authorize some form of Math and Science Partnership initiative within the Department of Education.

Both versions of H.R. 1 can be found on the Library of Congress web site THOMAS. For the House bill, see the version Engrossed in House (H.R. 1.EH); for the Senate bill, see the version Engrossed Senate Amendment (H.R. 1.EAS). In the House version, the Math and Science Partnerships fall under Title II - Preparing, Training, and Recruiting Quality Teachers; Subpart 2 - Math and Science Partnerships. In the Senate version, the Partnerships can be found under Title II - Teachers; Part B - Mathematics and Science Partnerships.

Other Science Education Bills

On July 30, the House passed two other bills addressing K-12 science education: H.R. 1858, sponsored by Science Committee Chairman Sherwood Boehlert (R-NY), and H.R. 100, sponsored by Rep. Vern Ehlers (R-MI). The main provisions of Boehlert's bill include authorization of: a Math and Science Partnership program within NSF; a scholarship to encourage science, math and engineering majors to pursue teaching; and four national centers for research on education and learning (see FYIs #67 and 80). Ehlers' bill would authorize NSF grants to universities for training and support of master teachers for math and science classrooms.

In the Senate, Senator Jay Rockefeller (D-WV), along with Edward Kennedy (D-MA) and Pat Roberts (R-KS), has introduced S. 1262, a companion bill to Boehlert's H.R. 1858. It has been referred to the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee.

Impact of Appropriations Bills

It is very likely that a final version of ESEA will be agreed upon and signed into law this fall, with some form of Math and Science Partnerships authorized within the Department of Education. The Boehlert and Rockefeller bills would authorize similar partnerships within NSF. It is unclear at this point what will happen with two such similar partnership programs. It may come down to actions of the relevant appropriations subcommittees (the VA/HUD subcommittee for programs within NSF, and the Labor-HHS-Education subcommittee for programs within the Education Department.)

So far, VA/HUD appropriators in both the House and Senate have provided funding for Math and Science Partnerships within NSF. House appropriators would provide $200 million as requested by the White House and proposed in Boehlert's authorization bill, while Senate appropriators would provide $190 million and call for a report on how this program would affect current NSF science education programs (see FYI #99). The Labor-HHS appropriations subcommittees have not yet drafted their bills.

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

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