Late last week the Senate Appropriations Committee approved S. 1284, the FY 2014 Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations Bill. Senate appropriators have approved six of the twelve FY 2014 bills, although none of have reached the Senate floor.
The Department of Education provides funding for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education through a number of programs. The Obama Administration has proposed wide-ranging changes in the Department’s STEM programs, and in STEM programs administered by other agencies. No final legislative action has occurred on these proposals, the subcommittee explaining: “The President’s budget was based on the administration’s proposal to reauthorize the ESEA [Elementary and Secondary Education Act, more recently known as The No Child Left Behind Act], but no such bill has passed the Senate. As a result, programs in this account are based generally on current law, as authorized under the ESEA.”
Senate committee report 113-71 accompanies S. 1284, and includes the following recommendations regarding STEM education:
Under the section entitled School Improvement Programs:
Mathematics and Science Partnerships:
The FY 2013 budget (not including the mandatory reduction of approximately 5 percent) is $149.4 million
The Administration requested no funding for this program under its reorganization plan
The Senate Appropriations Committee recommendation is $149.4 million which is level funding
The report states:
“At the recommended funding level, the ESEA requires the Department to award grants by formula to States for competitive awards to eligible partnerships, which must include an engineering, math, or science department of an institution of higher education and a high-need LEA [local educational agency]. Partnerships will seek to improve the performance of students in the areas of math and science, including engineering, by bringing math and science teachers in elementary and secondary schools together with scientists, mathematicians, and engineers to increase the teachers’ subject-matter knowledge and improve their teaching skills.”
Under the section entitled Innovation and Improvement:
A line item in a funding table on page 263 of the report includes a budget estimate of an Administration request for “STEM Innovation” of $414.7 million in new money. The bill included no funding for this request.
The report states:
“Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics [STEM] Innovation
“The Committee does not recommend creating a new STEM Innovation program, a collection of STEM activities requested by the administration. Instead, the bill provides funding for some of the same proposed activities through existing programs, including $55,000,000 within FIE [Fund for Improvement of Education] for STEM Innovation Networks.
“The proposed STEM Innovation initiative is comprised of STEM Innovation Networks, STEM Teacher Pathways, the STEM Master Teacher Corps, and the Effective Teaching and Learning: STEM program. These programs are intended to develop, validate, and scale up effective practices in pre-K–12 STEM instruction; increase student engagement in STEM subjects; and recruit, prepare, and further develop highly effective STEM educators.”
Under the same section entitled Innovation and Improvement:
Fund for the Improvement of Education (FIE)
The FY 2013 budget (not including the mandatory reduction of approximately 5 percent) is $65.6 million
The Administration requested $46.3 million, a decrease of $19.3 million or 29.4 percent
The Senate Appropriations Committee recommendation is $137.6 million, an increase of $72.0 million or 109.8 percent
The report stated:
“The bill also includes $55,000,000 for grants to support STEM Innovation Networks. These funds will be used to make competitive awards to LEAs or groups of LEAs, in partnership with institutions of higher education, not-for-profit organizations, museums, and businesses, to transform STEM teaching and learning, particularly for high-need students and underrepresented populations, as well as support a virtual learning network for STEM educators. The goal of the networks is to increase the number of students interested in and prepared for postsecondary education and STEM careers. The Committee is particularly interested in approaches that will engage students in the early grades.
“The Committee urges the Department to put a priority on reaching underrepresented populations, such as girls and minorities, and using nontraditional STEM teaching activities, including robotics competitions, as a means of further engaging and inspiring students to pursue further study or careers in STEM education.
“The Committee recommendation also includes $17,000,000 for the Improving Mathematics Achievement and Transition to College from High School [IMATCH] program. These funds will be used jointly with funds provided to NSF for a program using a tiered evidence model, similar to the Investing in Innovation program, that seeks to develop, evaluate, and scale up proven practices that can help improve teaching and learning in mathematics in the last 2 years of high school and first 2 years of college.
“The Committee is particularly interested in available funds being used to encourage, engage, inspire, and motivate students to enter and succeed in the STEM fields.
“The Committee is aware of specialized teacher preparation programs at university-based schools of education that prepare teachers to work in urban school districts and support hands-on science and math curriculum in middle schools. These programs provide tuition assistance and specialized coursework to teacher candidates and partner with local school districts to support co-teaching by master teachers, mentorships, and field placements. The Committee supports high-quality programs that focus on meeting the needs of children in urban school systems.”
In a later section under the section entitled Higher Education:
Minority Science and Education Improvement:
The FY 2013 budget (not including the mandatory reduction of approximately 5 percent) is $9.5 million
The Administration requested $9.5 million
The Senate Appropriations Committee recommendation is $9.5 million which is level funding
The report states:
“The Committee recommends $9,447,000 for the Minority Science and Engineering Improvement program. Funds are used to provide discretionary grants to institutions with minority enrollments greater than 50 percent to purchase equipment, develop curricula, and support advanced faculty training. Grants are intended to improve science and engineering education programs and increase the number of minority students in the fields of science, mathematics, and engineering.”