APS News

APS Joins STEM Community in Call for Support of Science Education Programs

The Administration’s FY 2006 budget request would slash funding for science education programs at NSF and restrict the availability of funds for the Math and Science Partnership (MSP) program at the Department of Education. The APS has joined with several other scientific and educational organizations in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Education coalition by co-signing a letter to congressional appropriators in support of the NSF programs.

The other signatories include the American Association of Physicists in Medicine, the American Association of Physics Teachers, the American Astronomical Society, the American Geophysical Union, the American Institute of Physics, and the Optical Society of America. Many of these organizations also signed a letter to appropriators in support of the DOE’s MSP program. And several Members of Congress have circulated "Dear Colleague" letters on both topics, seeking additional Members’ signatures on letters that will be sent to the relevant appropriators.

The Administration has proposed $737.0 million for NSF’s EHR Directorate, a cut of 12.4% from the FY 2005 level of $841.4 million, which itself was 11% lower than FY 2004 funding of $944.1 million. Many programs and divisions–including the NSF Math and Science Partnerships; Elementary, Secondary and Informal Education; Undergraduate Education; and Research, Evaluation and Communication–would receive cuts ranging from 12% to 43%. Under the budget request, several of these accounts would make no new awards in FY 2006.

The Coalition’s letter on NSF science education programs was sent to key members of the House Science, State, Justice and Commerce Appropriations Subcommittee and of the Senate Commerce, Justice, and Science Appropriations Subcommittee. It calls on Members of Congress to "increase spending for [NSF] to a level that would permit $200 million in funding for the NSF Math and Science Partnership (MSP) program, and restoration of funding for the NSF Education and Human Resources Directorate to FY2004 levels." The letter also expressed support for other key programs in the EHR directorate, such as Instructional Materials Development, the Teacher Professional Continuum, and the Centers for Learning and Teaching.

"These programs are unique in their capacity to move promising ideas from research to practice, to develop new and improved materials and assessments, to explore new uses of technology to enhance K-12 instruction, and to create better teacher training techniques," it said.

While recommending a 51.0% increase (to $269.0 million) for the Education Department’s MSP program in FY 2006, the Administration also proposes to fence off $120.0 million of that funding for a new grant program for secondary math that would redirect funding away from the state-based MSP program. The Administration proposed this same set-aside last year, but Congress did not approve it. The Coalition sent another letter to key Labor-HHS-Education appropriators in both chambers. This letter supports the requested funding level but opposes the $120.0 million set-aside.

The full text of the letters can be found at http://www.aip.org/gov/.

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Editor: Alan Chodos
Associate Editor: Jennifer Ouellette
Staff Writer: Ernie Tretkoff