Senate Rejects National Science Foundation Cutbacks
Proposal calls for increased funding for minority-serving programsA new Senate plan rejects the Bush administration’s proposed cuts in minority-serving programs at the National Science Foundation.
Instead of making cuts, the Senate would increase spending for the HBCU-Undergraduate Program (HBCU-UP) and the Louis Stokes Alliances for Minority Participation Program. Each program would receive $5 million increases, for total funding of $31.5 million and $19 million, respectively.
To help fund new and expanded initiatives elsewhere, the administration had proposed a $1.5 million cut in the Stokes program and a $3 million reduction in the HBCU-UP program. Black college leaders opposed both moves.
In recent months, HBCU leaders complained about the lack of NSF dollars flowing to Black colleges. Of all 1999 NSF money going to higher education, HBCUs received just 1 percent, said Dr. Frederick Humphries, president of the National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education. In testimony to Congress this year, Humphries suggested that NSF “may be in violation of a federal mandate … which directs it to refrain from any ‘undue concentration’ of funding for research and education.” (see Black Issues, March 28).
The Stokes program supports 29 alliances between two- and four-year institutions to improve achievement and increase the number of underrepresented minorities in undergraduate math, science and engineering.
HBCU-UP is designed to strengthen the research infrastructure at HBCUs and increase the number of minorities with undergraduate degrees. The Bush administration said the HBCU-UP cut would be partially offset by an increase in support for a program to improve teachers’ content knowledge.
The Bush administration also had proposed large increases for K-12 education programming at NSF, particularly a year-old initiative to promote K-12/college partnerships in math and science. However, the Senate rejected that move, saying that NSF has been slow to award the first pot of money in that program.
Nonetheless, in a report accompanying the bill, the Senate Appropriations Committee said it “expects the NSF will take explicit actions to include HBCUs” among the colleges and universities participating in projects to increase the number of math and science teachers.
Overall, the Bush administration’s NSF budget had called for a 10 percent cut in undergraduate funding but a 41 percent increase in K-12 programs. The Senate bill provides increases in both areas and more total funding for NSF education programs.
The Senate’s budget has an extra $73 million for NSF education activities, for a total of $948 million in funding next year. The Bush administration’s plan recommended $908 million.
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