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FYI Number 74: July 16, 2007

House Appropriators Keep Dept. Of Education's Math and Science Partnership Funding Flat

The much-awaited House Appropriations Committee report on the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations Bill for FY 2008 was released today. Under this bill, H.R. 3043, funding for the Department of Education's Mathematics and Science Partnerships (MSP) would remain constant at $182.2 million.

Early in the report, the House appropriations subcommittee chaired by Rep. David Obey (D-WI), with Ranking Member James Walsh (R-NY), states:

"The Committee believes that the nation faces immense challenges in raising the academic performance of America’s students in an increasingly competitive global economy. America’s students are not achieving at the levels needed to be competitive with our international competitors, particularly in math, science, and technology. In 2005, only 48 percent of low-income 4th graders and 37 percent of low-income 8th graders performed at a basic level in science. Among 17-year olds, math scores have been flat over the past 15 years, while reading scores have actually gone down. The rest of the world is implementing aggressive education improvements, while the United States, at best, is making only modest
gains."

The Senate has already passed its version of this appropriations bill (see http://www.aip.org/fyi/2007/068.html,) establishing the narrow parameters of the FY 2008 budget for the MSP program. The figures are as follows:

The current Math and Science Partnership budget is $182.2 million.
The Bush Administration requested flat funding of $182.1 million.
The Senate appropriations bill would provide $184.0 million, an increase of 1.0 percent or $1.8 million above the current budget.
The House appropriations bill would provide flat funding of $182.2 million.

House Committee Report 110-231 states the following about the Partnerships under a section entitled "School Improvement Programs":

"The Committee recommends $182,160,000 for mathematics and science partnerships. This is the same as the fiscal year 2007 funding level and $36,000 more than the request. 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. States then award the funds competitively to partnerships that must include the State agency; an engineering, math, or science department of an institution of higher education; and a high-need school district. Other partners may also be involved."

There is language in House Committee Report 110-231 regarding two related programs:

Minority science and engineering improvement:

"The Committee recommends $8,730,000 for the minority science and engineering improvement program (MSEIP), the same as the fiscal year 2007 appropriation and the budget request. The MSEIP program awards grants to improve mathematics, science, and engineering programs at institutions serving primarily minority students and to increase the number of minority students who pursue advanced degrees and careers in those fields."

Math Now:

"The bill does not provide $250,000,000 as requested by the Administration for two new programs, math now for elementary school students and math now for middle school students. The Committee supports efforts to improve mathematics instruction but has concerns about beginning additional programs when ongoing programs exist that target math and science instruction. In addition, the Committee provides funding for the national mathematics panel to develop mathematics content and principles for programs like math now.

"The Committee notes that research on mathematics instruction and assessments is one of the research priorities identified by the Institute of Education Sciences (IES). The bill provides $157,552,000 for research conducted by IES. The Committee believes that IES should be the primary place within the Department where research on educational interventions is conducted and has provided sufficient resources within the IES account to expand research on mathematics interventions."

The Senate bill did not provide funding for the Math Now program.

Note that the National Science Foundation also has a Mathematics and Science Partnership program with a different focus than that of the Department of Education (see http://www.aip.org/fyi/2007/071.html.)

The House starts its consideration of H.R. 3043 on Wednesday. Debate is expected to be contentious, as the bill's total funding is $10.6 billion more in discretionary funding than President Bush requested. House Appropriations Committee Ranking Member Jerry Lewis (R-CA) has characterized the bill as "veto bait."

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

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