A trio of bills to strengthen and enhance federal science, technology,
engineering and math (STEM) education and research was introduced on
May 11 by several of the Republican members of the House Science Committee.
One bill, sponsored by Rep. John Schwarz (R-MI), would primarily target
existing programs at NSF to improve science and math education and to
attract more undergraduates to STEM careers and K-12 science and math
teaching. The other two bills, both sponsored by Rep. Michael McCaul
(R-TX), would authorize or increase grant programs at NSF and DOE to
assist early-career researchers.
"We need highly qualified individuals teaching our students at
all levels, especially in the fields of math, science, and engineering,"
Schwarz said of his bill. "This legislation will provide the financial
incentive to create this necessary teacher workforce." Regarding
the other two bills, McCaul commented that they would "put the
support and resources in place to give our nation's brightest minds
the opportunities to bring their innovations to industry and build and
develop their skills to help America maintain its high-tech workforce
and its foothold as the world's top technology leader."
All three bills include, as original co-sponsors, Science Committee
Chair Sherwood Boehlert (R-NY); Space and Aeronautics Subcommittee Chair
Ken Calvert (R-CA); Environment, Technology and Standards Subcommittee
Chair Vernon Ehlers (R-MI); Energy Subcommittee Chair Judy Biggert (R-IL);
Research Subcommittee Chair Bob Inglis (R-SC), and Rep. Lamar Smith
H.R. 5358: THE SCIENCE AND MATHEMATICS EDUCATION FOR COMPETITIVENESS
ACT: This bill would do the following:
(1) Expand NSF's Robert Noyce scholarship program, which provides scholarships
to STEM undergraduates who commit to teaching after graduation, by increasing
the minimum scholarship to $10,000 and allowing additional years of
scholarship support. This program would be authorized at $50 million
in FY 2007, increasing to $90 million for the fiscal years 2009 through
2011. (This program received an appropriation of $8.8 million in FY
2006; the FY 2007 request was $9.8 million.)
(2) Expand NSF's Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics
Talent Expansion Program (STEP), which provides grants to higher education
institutions to increase the number of STEM majors. This program would
be authorized at $40 million in FY 2007, increasing to $50 million for
the fiscal years 2009 through 2011. (This program received an appropriation
of $25.6 million in FY 2006; the FY 2007 request was $26.1 million.)
(3) Narrow the focus of NSF's Math and Science Partnership Program
to teacher improvement, renaming it the Science and Mathematics Teacher
Training Partnerships and authorizing funding at $50 million for fiscal
years 2007 through 2011. This program would provide grants, of between
$75,000 and $2,000,000 per year, to partnerships including one or more
local educational agencies and STEM departments at higher education
institutions or eligible nonprofit organizations. (This program received
an appropriation of $63.2 million in FY 2006; the FY 2007 request was
(4) Authorize an NSF grant program to enable STEM departments at higher
education institutions to establish Centers for Undergraduate Education
in Science, Mathematics, and Engineering, to improve the quality of
undergraduate instruction in those fields and attract more students.
Funding would be authorized at $4 million for FY 2007, increasing to
$10 million for fiscal years 2008 through 2011.
(5) Ensure that at least 1.5 percent of funds appropriated for NSF
Research and Related Activities be allocated to the Integrative Graduate
Education and Research Traineeship program.
(6) Require the NSF Director to assess the impact of the Professional
Science Master's degree at higher education institutions, and to asses
the effectiveness of using a "broader impacts" criterion in
evaluating NSF proposals.
(7) Authorize, at the Department of Energy, education programs in fields
relevant to DOE's mission. These programs can include scholarships,
fellowships, research experiences for undergraduates, and summer institutes
for improving teachers' content knowledge.
H.R. 5356: THE EARLY CAREER RESEARCH ACT: This bill would
authorize, at NSF and DOE, programs to award merit-reviewed, competitive
grants to tenure-track science and engineering faculty in the early
stages of their careers. The award amount would be at least $80,000
per year, for a duration of up to five years. For NSF, the bill would
require that at least 3.5 percent of appropriated Research and Related
Activities funding be allocated to this grant program, which could be
run within the existing Faculty Early Career Development program. For
DOE, the bill would authorize $25 million for each of the fiscal years
2007 through 2011.
This bill also asks for a report from NIST on its efforts to recruit
and retain early-career scientists and engineers.
H.R. 5357: THE RESEARCH FOR COMPETITIVENESS ACT: This
bill would authorize additional programs at NSF and DOE to award grants
to early-career scientists and engineers for high-risk, high-return
research in areas relevant to industry (and for the DOE awards, areas
relevant to energy production, storage and use). The award amount would
be $50,000 per year for up to five years, with an additional $50,000
available each year if the awardee raised matching funds from industry.
Funding for the NSF grant program would be authorized at $3 million
in FY 2007, increasing to $15 million by FY 2011. Funding for the DOE
grant program would be authorized at $2 million in FY 2007, increasing
to $10 million by FY 2011.