Committee Approves Legislation Strengthening Math & Science Education; Also Clears Commemoratives
(Washington, DC) – The House Committee on Science and Technology met today to consider three bills aimed at inspiring the next generation of scientists, mathematicians, engineers and space pioneers.
H.R. 362, the “10,000 Teachers, 10 Million Minds” Science and Math Scholarship Act passed the Committee with overwhelming support. The measure – sponsored by Chairman Bart Gordon (D-TN) – is designed to better prepare U.S. math and science teachers to equip students in these subjects.
The bipartisan bill is based upon the primary recommendation of the National Academies’ “Rising Above the Gathering Storm” report, produced in 2005. A similar bill – H.R. 5358 – cleared the Committee in the 109th Congress. H.R. 362 is supported by a wide spectrum of industry and education groups and scientific professional societies.
“This report opened our eyes to the alarming conclusion that America’s footing as a global leader is slipping,” said Chairman Gordon. “And it gave us recommendations on how to secure our standing. Key among those recommendations – better training and equipping our teachers to teach math and science in grades K-12. This bill acts on what we know needs to be done.”
The report found that in 1999, 68 percent of U.S. 8th grade students received math instruction from a teacher with no math certification or degree. It also noted that in 2000, 92 percent of 5th-9th graders were taught physical science by a teacher with no science degree or certification.
H.R. 362 addresses these issues by increasing scholarships for students majoring in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields and who are committed to pursuing teaching; establishing a teacher education program at the National Science Foundation to encourage education faculty to work with STEM faculty on ways to improve education for math and science teachers; providing in-service training to math and science teachers to improve content knowledge and teaching skills; and authorizing the development of master’s degree programs for in-service math and science teachers.
“This bill is one of several I have introduced to insure that our children are not only prepared for the careers of the future, but they are also prepared to compete in those fields with their global counterparts,” said Chairman Gordon. H.R. 363, Gordon’s Sowing the Seeds through Science and Engineering Research Act, was approved by the Committee on February 28.
H.R. 362 passed the Committee as amended, by voice vote.
The amendment roster follows:
Amendment 1: Substitute Amendment offered by Chairman Gordon and Ranking Member Ralph Hall (R-TX) – made minor technical changes to the underlying bill. [The Amendment was adopted by voice vote.]
Amendment 2: Offered by Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) and Subcommittee Ranking Member Vern Ehlers (R-MI) to add a new section to the bill to establish an NSF grant program to support science lab improvement in secondary schools. [The Amendment was adopted by voice vote.]
Amendment 3: Offered by Rep. Johnson amends Section 205 by adding “including minority-serving institutions” to types of institutions for STEP programs. [The Amendment was adopted by voice vote.]
Amendment 4: Offered by Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) amends Section 205 to specify that NSF should attempt to increase the number of students from secondary schools with concentrations of children from low income families who pursue STEM undergraduate degrees. [The Amendment was adopted by voice vote.]
Amendment 5: Offered by Rep. Giffords amends Section 202 to require NSF to give priority to summer teacher institute grant applications that propose programs that will attract teachers from high-need school systems. [The Amendment was adopted by voice vote.]
Amendment 6: Offered by Rep. Todd Akin (R-MO) amends Section 204 adding language stating “Recommendations made under this section shall not be considered a mandate of specific K-12 curricula” after “the national panel.” [The Amendment was adopted by voice vote.]
In explaining her amendments, Rep. Johnson said, “These amendments represent a concerted effort to interest more students in science and math careers and to give them the tools to capitalize on that interest. They target schools serving pupils who are underrepresented in these professions, in terms of race and class. From upgrading laboratory equipment to providing advanced training for teachers, these amendments seek to improve students’ secondary school preparation for becoming scientists.”
“To remain competitive in our 21st century global economy, it is critical that we reform math and science education in America,” added Rep. Giffords in commenting on her amendments. All children, especially those in our rural and urban schools, should have the opportunity to become leaders in science and engineering.”
H. Con. Res. 76, Honoring the 50th Anniversary of the International Geophysical Year (IGY), introduced by Space & Aeronautics Subcommittee Chairman Mark Udall (D-CO) was also approved by the Committee. The International Geophysical Year (1957-1958) initiated the Space Age with the successful launch of the first artificial satellites: Sputnik by the former Soviet Union, and Explorer I by the United States. IGY involved thousands of scientists from 67 nations and, at the height of the Cold War, facilitated international, interdisciplinary cooperation in science.
"During that year, we saw the dawning of the space age and discovered more about the Earth, the atmosphere and the near-Earth space environment,” said Rep. Udall. “This year's commemoration serves to not only remember the great scientific work that as done during the IGY, but also to inspire the next generation of scientists and engineers, who will be critical to our continued innovation and economic growth.”
Marking another scientific landmark, the Committee approved a resolution honoring the 45th anniversary of John Glenn Jr.’s orbit around the Earth – the first manned orbital mission completed by the United States. H. Res. 252, Recognizing the 45th anniversary of John Herschel Glenn, Jr.’s historic achievement in becoming the first United States astronaut to orbit the Earth acknowledges Glenn’s contribution to space exploration and scientific advancement in the United States.
“With unwavering courage and commitment, John Glenn pushed the limits as a space pioneer. In the process, he challenged millions of us to dream bigger and try harder,” said bill co-sponsor and Committee Member Rep. Charlie Wilson (D-OH). “Through his groundbreaking work at NASA and his long career in public service, Senator Glenn has inspired generations of Americans. Ohioans are proud to call Senator Glenn one of our own.”
Each of these bills now moves to the full House for consideration.