President Signs Gordon’s COMPETES Act
(Washington, DC) – Equipping teachers, educating students, investing in research and stimulating America’s economy are the goals of H.R. 2272, the America COMPETES Act, a bill signed into law this morning by President Bush at the White House.
“We have to recognize there are roughly seven billion people in the world, half of whom make less than $2 a day. We cannot and would not want to compete with that,” said Gordon. “We have to compete at a higher level with a better equipped and skilled workforce than that of our global counterparts.”
The bill, which will help secure the U.S.’s ability to compete in the global marketplace, was steered through Congress by House Science & Technology Committee Chairman Bart Gordon (D-TN) and Congressional leaders based upon the recommendations of the National Academies’ 2005 report, “Rising Above the Gathering Storm.”
Chairman Gordon, former Rep. Sherwood Boehlert (R-NY), Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) requested that report, which found that the U.S. could stand to lose its competitive edge over other nations unless action was taken.
Among the report’s findings were that 68 percent of eighth graders received math instruction from a teacher with no degree or certification in math; and 93 percent of children in grades five through nine received physical science instruction from a teacher with no degree or certification in the field. The report also found that less than a third of 4th and 8th grade students are proficient in math.
To address these problems, The COMPETES Act authorizes $33.6 billion over fiscal years 2008-2010 for science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education programs across the federal government. The measure authorizes multiple grant programs to help educate current and future teachers in the areas of science and math education. The bill also invests in basic research and supports young researchers by expanding early career grant programs.
“This bill will not only give our teachers and students the support they need, but it also advances our efforts to become energy independent. This will create new jobs and new exports,” Gordon said.
The bill establishes the Advanced Research Projects-Agency (ARPA-E) designed to engage in high-risk, high reward energy research under the Department of Energy (DOE) – the first major energy provision approved by Congress this session.
The bill further supports basic research by setting budgets at the National Institute of Standards and Technology, the National Science Foundation and the DOE Office of Science on a path to doubling within the near term.
“This is not just an idle thought for those of us who have kids and grandkids. I am very concerned that the next generation of Americans can be the first generation of Americans to inherit a national standard of living less than their parents if we don’t do something,” Gordon said. “This bill will help turn that corner.”