Representatives Vern Ehlers (R-MI) and Rush Holt (D-NJ) are seeking their colleagues' signatures on a letter requesting at least $450 million in funding for the Department of Education's Math and Science Partnership (MSP) program in the FY 2008 appropriations process. This is the originally-authorized funding level for the Education Department's MSP program, but the program has never received even half of that amount (the FY08 request is $182.1 million, equal to the FY07 request and the FY06 funding level). The letter will be sent to key appropriators on the Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations Subcommittee.
In their cover letter seeking additional signatures, Ehlers and Holt state that "funding for math and science professional development is needed since we are seeing disturbing trends in the United States' K-12 student performance on basic math and science tests. Students from other countries are outperforming our own, and we are losing ground in science and technology fields. The maintenance of our national expertise, prosperity and security requires that our students dramatically improve their math and science skills. In addition, the No Child Left Behind Act requires science testing in 2007-08, making it imperative to provide in-service science teacher training."
Ehlers and Holt hope to collect signatures and send the letter by the end of this week. Other representatives are far more likely to sign such a letter if contacted by their constituents. See http://www.aip.org/gov/commcong.html for information on communicating with Congress. Note that government resources should not be used to contact Members of Congress.
The text of the Ehlers-Holt letter to Labor, HHS, Education Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman David Obey (-WI) and Ranking Minority Member James Walsh (R-NY) follows:
"As your subcommittee considers its priorities for the fiscal year 2008 appropriations for Labor, Health and Human Services & Education, we respectfully request that you provide at least $450 million in funding to strengthen mathematics and science education, as authorized in the No Child Left Behind Act.
"A resounding bipartisan chorus of business leaders, educators, Nobel laureates and other luminaries has called for improvements in our nation's math and science education. Most recently, on March 7, Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates testified regarding the importance of math and science education, and stated, ‘If we are going to demand more from our students and teachers, then it is our obligation to provide them with the support they need to meet the challenge. All students - regardless of age, grade level, gender, or race - do better when they are supported by a good teacher.' The Math and Science Partnerships provide necessary professional development enabling effective math and science teaching and strengthening our students' math and science skills.
"Jobs of the future will require an understanding of the basic principles and concepts of math and science. Business owners, in particular manufacturers, have noticed a disturbing trend where they are unable to find qualified skilled workers in our nation. Of the 800 U.S. manufacturers surveyed in the 2005 Skills Gap report, 80 percent reported a shortage of qualified workers overall, with 65 percent reporting a shortage of engineers and scientists. To have the workers of the future, we need to give our kids a chance by providing them teachers who are trained to teach math and science properly and understandably. It is critical for our children's and our nation's future.
"Through formula grants to every state, the Math and Science Partnerships provide crucial teacher professional development by linking school districts with university mathematics, science and engineering departments. The Math and Science Partnership program at the Department of Education was designed to work in tandem with the National Science Foundation's (NSF) Math and Science Program, and a separate letter has been sent to request significant funding for NSF.
"We respectfully request that you continue to strengthen our math and science education system by providing $450 million for the Department of Education's Math and Science Partnership program."