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FYI Number 49: May 14, 2007

House Statement on Math and Science Partnership Programs

Concerns about duplication of effort have prompted the Bush Administration to press for a reduction of the National Science Foundation's Math and Science Partnership program because a program with the same name is administered by the Department of Education. During consideration of H.R. 1867, the National Science Foundation Authorization Act, Rep. Vern Ehlers (R-MI) offered an amendment expressing the Sense of the Congress on the two programs. Subcommittee on Research and Science Education Chairman Brian Baird (D-WA) commented that Ehlers was "absolutely right . . . It's a superb amendment. We're happy to accept it, and I commend him for offering it." The House adopted Ehlers' amendment by voice vote.

Ehlers' May 2 remarks and the text of his amendment follows:

"Mr. Chairman, I rise to address a particular [current] problem with this amendment. We have, for some time, had activities within the National Science Foundation aimed at teaching future teachers, teaching them how to teach math and science, and this generally fell into the rubric of a Math-Science Partnership, because the Foundation itself did not teach the teachers but rather responded to grants submitted by professors at various institutions who were pleased to set up programs to teach these future teachers or existing teachers how better to teach math and science. These have been very successful programs and are commonly referred to as the Math-Science Partnership.

"Recently, the Department of Education has developed programs involving professional development for teachers in elementary and secondary schools to try to bring them up to speed on the latest developments in math and science and how to teach them. They ended up calling it the Math-Science Partnership.

"This has resulted in a problem because some in the administration decided to cut the budget of the National Science Foundation because they felt this was a duplication of programs. It is not.

" The National Science Foundation concentrates on doing research. The Foundation's model is designed for competitive grants to spur innovative programs that will be peer-reviewed and evaluated to enhance research on effective math and science education, whereas the Department of Education ensures that this knowledge is disseminated to as many school districts as possible. Knowledge gained from the competitive foundation scholarships, in other words the National Science Foundation math-science partnerships, can be used and is used to prove and enhance State investments in programs developed by the Department of Education.

"In other words, these are two programs that happen to have the same names. They are very symbiotic. The discoveries out of the research at the National Science Foundation transfers directly over to the Department of Education, and is there applied to instructions in the classrooms and for teacher training programs.

"Another reason I come to offer this amendment is because the other body, the Senate, is working on this same issue, this same bill, and they have added an amendment which clarifies the difference between the National Science Foundation programs and the Department of Education programs. I am offering essentially the same amendment so that when we go to conference with the Senate, this will be pre-agreed to. It's a necessary and important clarification of the functions of the two, and I urge the adoption of my amendment."

EHLERS' AMENDMENT:

SEC. 19. SENSE OF THE CONGRESS REGARDING THE MATHEMATICS AND SCIENCE PARTNERSHIP PROGRAMS OF THE DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION AND THE NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION.

It is the sense of the Congress that--

(1) although the mathematics and science education partnership program at the National Science Foundation and the mathematics and science partnership program at the Department of Education practically share the same name, the 2 programs are intended to be complementary, not duplicative;

(2) the National Science Foundation partnership programs are innovative, model reform initiatives that move promising ideas in education from research into practice to improve teacher quality, develop challenging curricula, and increase student achievement in mathematics and science, and Congress intends that the National Science Foundation peer-reviewed partnership programs found to be effective should be put into wider practice by dissemination through the Department of Education partnership programs; and

(3) the Director of the National Science Foundation and the Secretary of Education should have ongoing collaboration to ensure that the 2 components of this priority effort for mathematics and science education continue to work in concert for the benefit of States and local practitioners nationwide.

Richard M. Jones
Media and Government Relations Division
American Institute of Physics
fyi@aip.org
301-209-3095

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