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FYI Number 95: June 22, 2005

House Appropriations a Mixed Bag for Science Education Programs

In its FY 2006 Science, State, Commerce and Justice Appropriations bill, the House voted to cut funding for NSF's Education and Human Resources programs below FY 2005 levels, although not as deeply as the Administration requested. In the Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations bill, House appropriators proposed to increase funding for the Education Department's Math and Science Partnership program above current-year funding, although not by as much as the Administration asked for. The bills and accompanying reports can be found at http://thomas.loc.gov/home/approp/app06.html.

NSF EDUCATION AND HUMAN RESOURCES:

The Science, State, Commerce and Justice funding bill (H.R. 2862) was passed by the full House on June 16. Within the bill, NSF's Education and Human Resources Directorate would receive $807.0 million. This is a reduction of 4.1%, or $34.4 million, from FY 2005 funding of $841.4 million. The Administration had requested $737.0 million. The committee report (H. Rept. 109-118) states, "In light of the challenges facing the nation in improving math and science educational participation and achievement, the Committee is disappointed by the reductions proposed in the budget in this account. The recommendation provides the full request for Math and Science Partnerships, which will support awards made in previous years, as well as data collection and evaluation activities."

Mathematics and Science Partnerships: Down 24.4%, or $19.4 million, from $79.4 million to $60.0 million. This is equal to the request, and according to Administration budget documents, no new awards would be made in FY 2006 with this level of funding.

EPSCoR: Up 3.5%, or $3.3 million, from $93.7 million to $97.0 million. The Administration requested $94.0 million.

Elementary, Secondary and Informal Education: Down 3.9%, or $7.0 million, from $182.0 million to $175.0 million. The Administration requested $140.8 million.

Undergraduate Education: Down 2.4%, or $3.7 million, from $153.7 million to $150.0 million. The Administration requested $135.0 million.

Graduate Education: Up 0.2%, or $0.3 million, from $154.7 million to $155.0 million, equal to the Administration's request.

Human Resource Development: Up 1.3%, or $1.5 million, from $118.5 million to $120.0 million. The Administration requested $118.4 million.

Research, Evaluation and Communication: Down 16.0%, or $9.5 million, from $59.5 million to $50.0 million. The Administration requested $33.8 million.

The report directs NSF to "submit a proposed spending plan to the Committee for its consideration within 30 days of enactment of this Act that addresses the Foundation's highest priority education requirements.... Within the amounts provided for the Elementary, Secondary and Informal Education, the Committee recognizes the value of engaging the general public in informal science and technology education at all ages. The Committee encourages the NSF to continue to ensure geographic diversity in the institutions that participate in the program. Within the amounts provided for the Undergraduate Education activity, the Committee encourages the NSF to allocate funding to the Robert Noyce Scholarship program and the Advanced Technological Education program. Within the amounts provided for Human Resource Development, the Committee encourages the NSF to allocate funding to the Historically Black Colleges and Universities Undergraduate Program."

NATIONAL SCIENCE BOARD COMMISSION ON SCIENCE EDUCATION:

Under the bill's provisions for the National Science Board, the Committee endorses a commission on science education: "The Committee understands that the Board has taken steps to establish a commission to make recommendations for NSF and Federal Government action to achieve measurable improvements in the Nation's science education at all levels. The Committee strongly endorses this effort, and expects the Board to provide an interim report by September 30, 2005, on the establishment of the commission, and to report the commission's findings and recommendations to the Committee at the conclusion of the commission's work."

In related news, the American Institute of Physics and several of its Member Societies signed a May 24 letter by the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Education Coalition to National Science Board Chairman Warren Washington, asking the Board's support for NSF education programs and calling for a commission or panel to address "the state of STEM education programs and research and identify future needs and priorities." The full text of the letter will be provided in FYI #96.

DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION MATH AND SCIENCE PARTNERSHIPS:

Also on June 16, the House Appropriations Committee approved its Labor, HHS, Education spending bill (H.R. 3010).

Math and Science Partnerships: Up 6.4%, or $11.4 million, from $178.6 million to $190.0 million. The Administration requested $269.0 million. According to the report (H. Rept. 109-143), "This program promotes strong math and science teaching skills for elementary and secondary school teachers. Grantees may use program funds to develop rigorous math and science curricula, establish distance learning programs, and recruit math, science and engineering majors into the teaching profession. They may also provide professional development opportunities. Grants are made to States by formula based on the number of children aged 5 to 17 who are from families with incomes below the poverty line, and States then award the funds competitively to partnerships which must include the State agency, and engineering, math or science department of an institution of higher education, and a high-need school district. Other partners may also be involved."

The Improving Teacher Quality State Grants, which may be used to improve teaching in all fields, were level-funded at the FY 2005 level of $2.9 billion, as requested. The bill does not provide any funding for President Bush's proposal to expand student testing and accountability to high schools.

Audrey T. Leath
Media and Government Relations Division
American Institute of Physics
fyi@aip.org
301-209-3094

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