House Approves Math/Science Bill with New Aid
National Mathematics and Science Partnerships Act attracts bipartisan support.
Students of color may gain access to high-quality math and science programs under legislation that the U.S. House of Representatives approved before the August recess.
The National Mathematics and Science Partnerships Act has attracted bipartisan support by including recommendations from a cross-section of groups, from the White House to the chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus. A major theme of the bill is using universities and businesses as partners with schools to improve K-12 math and science education, particularly in low-income communities.
“Today we made a small though significant step toward closing the digital divide and, more importantly, toward digital empowerment,” said Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson, D-Texas, CBC chairwoman and a co-sponsor of the bill, H.R. 1858. The bill also includes Johnson-proposed provisions in which the National Science Foundation would encourage interest among all students in math, science and technology careers.
“The future of our economy, of our environment, and our work force and our educational system will be based on how well we help students and teachers incorporate math, science and technology into their everyday activities,” she added.
Under Johnson’s provisions in the bill, the NSF would award grants to state and local educators that work with businesses to develop innovative programming in districts with large numbers of disadvantaged students. Federal science funds could cover job site mentoring, internships, college scholarships and donations of computer software and hardware.
Projects under the $5 million Math and Science Proficiency Partnership program also may focus on teacher training and the development of innovative learning and assessment programs.
The bill also contains a Democrat-sponsored plan for NSF to fund K-12 programs that encourage involvement by girls in math, science and technology, or the Go Girl Act. If enacted into law, the bill will “create a bold new work force of energized young women,” says Rep. Lynn Woolsey, D-Calif.
Such plans have broad support. “We need to provide opportunities for traditionally underrepresented groups such as women, minorities and persons with disabilities so that they can excel in math and science-related fields,” says Rep. Connie Morella, R-Md.
The bill also gives the White House a major victory by including President Bush’s own $200 million math/science partnership program. This initiative would provide grants to colleges that work with school districts to revise and improve math, science and technology instruction.
With these funds, colleges and schools could:
• Develop new K-12 curricula;
• Adapt and use distance learning to deliver instruction;
• Prepare students for math and science careers;
• Broaden business involvement in education;
• Provide after-school enrichment programs; and
• Bring mathematicians, scientists and engineers from industry to classroom.
Other provisions of the bill would fund scholarships to attract top college juniors and seniors into teaching and establish four new university centers for research on teaching and learning. Another $5 million would support community college/high school articulation partnerships to help students move smoothly from K-12 to higher education.
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