About this time last year NSTA and many of our teachers joined millions in the streets of Washington, DC and in cities nationwide for the March for Science 2017.
This year, March for Science (MfS) 2018 is scheduled for April 14 (find out more here). We encourage you to join one of the more than 200 scheduled satellite events nationwide and use your voice for change.
Why march again?
The goal of the March for Science is to champion robustly funded and publicly communicated science as a pillar of human freedom and prosperity.
This last year we have seen more threats to science at all levels of our government. The Administration has not named a science adviser and challenges to the science behind global warming continue to mount. The EPA has dismissed science advisors and replaced them with industry representatives. National Park Service Advisory Panel members have resigned because the Secretary refused to meet with them. Scientific content on federal websites has been altered. Perhaps most significantly, as reported in the NY Times, “Since World War II, no American president has shown greater disdain for science – or more lack of awareness of its likely costs.”
In his FY2019 budget President Trump –for the second year in a row—proposes to eliminate key education and research programs across the federal agencies.
Fortunately, Congress largely ignored the Administration’s proposed cuts in these areas when it passed the FY2018 budget a few weeks ago.
Congress boosted most science programs in the FY2018 budget. The National Science Foundation is receiving a 4 percent increase, while the Department of Energy Office of Science budget will increase by $869 million or 16 percent, and the National Institutes of Health is receiving a $3 billion or 9 percent boost. Read more here.
Despite Administration efforts to undermine public education, programs authorized by the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) also did very well in the FY2018 budget. Title II grants used by states and districts for teacher professional development and other activities received level funding at just over $2 billion.
The Title IV-A Student Support and Academic Enrichment Grant program will see a $700 million increase for FY 2018 (total funding level is $1.1 billion). This funding will allow districts to create programs that address school safety and mental health services, provide well balanced education programs, including STEM education programs, and incorporate more education technology and professional learning.
The ESSA Title II-B 21st Century Community Learning Centers grant program, which funds science and STEM programs in many afterschool and extended learning environments, will receive just over $1.2 billion in FY 2018. (More here on the education budget.)
Interestingly, this last year we’ve also seen an “amazingly large” number of scientists running for public office in 2018.
Shaughnessy Naughton, the founder of 314 Action, a political action committee which launched in 2014 to help scientists run for office, told Huff Post that the number of science candidates is “really astonishing” and that her group has “never seen anything like this.” As of the end of January, more than 60 researchers and technologists were running for federal office and at least 200 candidates with previous careers in STEM have announced bids for approximately 7,000 state legislature seats.
Two hundred candidates with STEM backgrounds are running for school boards.
So on April 14, let’s stand and demand that our leaders use science to inform their work and that we want their decisions to be data-driven and evidence-based.
Let’s march for our students. Let decision makers know they need to make strategic investments in K-12 STEM education instead of eliminating key funding sources.
Nothing less than the future of the American dream depends on preparing students to enter society with the knowledge and technical skills and tools that are critical to the workforce, our national security, and our science and technology driven society.
This is why we should and will march again. See you on April 14.
The mission of NSTA is to promote excellence and innovation in science teaching and learning for all.