Earlier this spring the U.S. House of Representatives passed the America COMPETES Act Reauthorization Act of 2015 (HR 1806) by a vote of 217-205, with 23 Republicans joining every Democrat present in voting against the bill.
The bill was strongly opposed by a number of groups—including the Association of American Universities, Computing Research Association, American Geophysical Union and the Consortium of Social Science Associations—who claim the legislation sets false priorities for the science agencies and would limit research.
Read more about the opposition to the America COMPETES Act.
The Administration also strongly opposes the legislation, saying it “would undermine critical investments in science, technology, and research” and “would be damaging to the Administration’s actions to move American competitiveness, innovation, and job growth forward through a world-leading science, technology, and innovation enterprise.”
In regards to STEM education, the bill would seek to coordinate and improve the extensive portfolio of STEM education programs at the different federal agencies by creating a new function at the National Science Foundation. It would also work to coordinate STEM education activities conducted across the government with a new federal STEM Education Advisory Panel.
Read the STEM Education Coalition statement on the bill.
In the Senate, a bipartisan group of seven senators introduced legislation which would reauthorize the energy title of the America COMPETES Act. In contrast to the House bill, according to Politico, the proposed Senate COMPETES legislation “seeks to lay out funding through fiscal 2020 and provide steady increases each year. Meanwhile, the House bill, which also covers broader funding needs at the National Science Foundation and other non-Energy Department programs, would keep funding levels flat across the board and stops at fiscal 2017.”
Update on Elementary and Secondary Education Act
Still no definitive word on when the respective House and Senate bills to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (No Child Left Behind) will move forward in both chambers for final amendments, consideration, and passage. Many believe (hope) the bills will be taken up by both bodies by the end of June.
Stay tuned and look for upcoming issues of NSTA Express for the latest information on developments in Washington, D.C.
Jodi Peterson is Assistant Executive Director of Legislative Affairs for the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) and Chair of the STEM Education Coalition. e-mail Jodi at firstname.lastname@example.org; follow her on Twitter at @stemedadvocate.
The mission of NSTA is to promote excellence and innovation in science teaching and learning for all.