NSTA Legislative Alert    http://www.nsta.org/leghandbook

National Science Teachers Association
Legislative Update
October 16, 2001

1. House and Senate Move to Complete Education Appropriations Bills
2. ESEA Bill Will Be Finished This Fall, Says Leadership
3. Tech Talent Bill Introduced in Senate
4. Special Task Force Appointed to Review IDEA

1. House and Senate Move to Complete Education Appropriations Bills

A number of significant education-related developments have occurred this
past week in Congress.

In the House: Last week the House Appropriations Committee (which
establishes the funding limits for federal education programs) approved a
bipartisan bill that included a record $49.2 billion budget for FY 2002
programs under the U. S. Department of Education. This amount represents a
17 percent increase over 2001 funding level for Department of Education
programs ($4.7 billion beyond President Bush's request) and the largest,
single-year boost for federal education spending.

After the leadership withdrew a controversial abortion amendment headed for
this appropriations bill, the full House passed the bill by a vote of 373 to

In the Senate: Also last week, the Senate Appropriations Committee marked up
its spending bill for Education, Labor, and HHS programs and approved a
$48.5 billion budget for FY 2002 federal education programs under the U. S.
Department of Education, which also represents a significant increase in
education funding. The full Senate is expected to vote on its education
appropriations bill sometime next week.

**Both the Senate and House appropriations committees based their
appropriations bills on the respective Elementary and Secondary Education
Act authorization language/programs (S. 1 and H.R. 1) now in conference.
This means the appropriations are contingent on the final work now being
done to authorize the K-12 programs in H. R. 1, which is still before the
conference committee (see below).

Teacher training programs, House: Funding for the Teacher Quality programs
under Title II did quite well in the House appropriations bill. Title II
programs received $3.175 billion; this figure combines the class size
reduction program and the Eisenhower professional development state grants,
and, in effect, eliminates these specific programs. However, language for
the House Title II state grants does mandate that a percentage of funding
must be used for state-based Math and Science Partnership programs; it also
allows funds to be used for class size reduction.

Teacher Training programs, Senate: The appropriations bill okayed by the
Senate Appropriations Committee is less generous than the House bill. The
Senate allotted $3.040 billion for Title II Teacher Quality programs (which
also combines the current class size reduction program and the Eisenhower
state grants). However, unlike the House bill, this bill contains no
language that mandates that Title II funds must be used for math and
science. Instead, the Senate Appropriations Committee funded the Math and
Science Partnerships program at only $25 million. This is in huge contrast
to the $900 million the Senate ESEA authorizing committee requested to fund
these Math and Science Partnerships.

**At this time it is unclear how this scenario will play out. Congressional
staffers have told NSTA that education leaders still have a strong
commitment to science and math education. Prior to the full Senate vote of
the education appropriations (expected soon), teachers are urged to contact
their Senators with this message: **Guarantee the highest possible funding
for the Math and Science Partnerships in the education appropriations
bill.** To telephone, call the U. S. Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121;
ask to be connected with your Senator(s) office. For emails to the Senate,
go to www.senate.gov/contacting/index_by_state.cfm.

Funding for other key K-12 education programs is as follows:

Title I programs (total): House: $12.5 billion; Senate committee: $11.8
Title II, Teacher Quality: House: $3.175 billion; Senate committee: $3.040
21st Century Community Learning Centers: House: $1 billion; Senate
committee: $1 billion
Technology for Education: House: $1 billion; Senate committee: $1 billion
Safe and Drug Free Schools: House: $644 million; Senate committee: $442
Bilingual and Immigrant programs: House: $700 million; Senate committee:
$516 million
Charter Schools: House: $200 million; Senate committee: $250 million
Special Education (total): House: $8.8 billion; Senate committee: $8.1

In addition, recent media reports are indicating that Senator Edward Kennedy
(D-MA) is looking for even more new funding for education, possibly as part
of an economic stimulus package under consideration. Republican reaction to
the plan is described as "cool."
We will keep you updated as further developments warrant.

2. ESEA Authorization Bill To Be Completed, Says Leadership

Meanwhile, in the other Congressional corner, leaders of  H. R. 1, the bill
to reauthorize (rewrite) the Elementary and Secondary Education Act,
maintain they will complete the bill this year amid criticisms from leading
state groups.

Conferees have met once since the September 11 attacks, and are scheduled to
meet again later today. However, the leaders of the H. R.1
conference-Senator Ted Kennedy (D-MA), Senator Judd Gregg (R-NH), Rep.
George Miller (-D-CA), and Rep. John Boehner (R-OH)--are meeting privately
to hammer out differences between the two bills. These differences include
testing and accountability (how to define failing schools), funding (level
of funding needed) and flexibility of the programs. But currently a blackout
exists on any conference information and the agreements reached, which is
frustrating a number of groups.

In a letter to conferees, the National Governors Association writes "As
those who bear the greatest responsibility for implementing any changes
enacted by Congress, we would hope there would be full consultation with the
nation's Governors prior to any agreements on key issues. Governors want to
ensure the success of any Congressional action, so such consultation will be
critical for any new law to work."

The National Council of State Legislatures is even more blunt in its
criticism of H. R. 1. In a letter to conferees, the group says that parts of
both S. 1 (the Senate bill) and H. R. 1 are "seriously and perhaps
irreparably flawed . . . State budgets, particularly those dependent on
sales taxes, are reeling from the recent economic downturn. A similar impact
is likely on federal receipts and appropriations, decreasing the likelihood
that appropriation levels in education legislation will offset the financial
burdens imposed by its mandates. We fear that compliance with the federal
mandates may be undercut unless states severely reduce other vital areas of
their budgets . . .  Improvements to ESEA should not be made at the expense
of our state priorities and initiatives."

The four education leaders met briefly with the President, and the Committee
on Education and the Workforce released a statement reaffirming Rep.
Boehner's belief that they are moving closer to a strong bipartisan
conference report, and staying focused on getting the bill done right.

Substantial differences also exist between the House and Senate versions of
the new Math and Science Partnerships. Details about what the final
Partnerships initiative will look like are also part of the "information
blackout" and are not being shared with interested groups. However, NSTA has
received assurances that the federal government is very much committed to
science and math education.

Also this past week, NSTA joined the American Chemical Society and other
education and science groups in sponsoring an ad that appeared in the
Capitol Hill publication Roll Call. (To see the ad, go to

As always, additional information will be sent to Legislative Update members
when events warrant.

3. Tech Talent Bill Introduced in Senate

A bipartisan, bicameral (across the two legislative chambers) group of
lawmakers has introduced the Tech Talent Bill: legislation aimed at
increasing the number of scientists, engineers, and technologists in the
United States. 

The bill seeks to establish a three-year, $25 million grant program at NSF
that will encourage colleges, universities, and community colleges to
increase the number of students seeking degrees in science, math,
engineering, or technology fields.

The legislation was introduced in the Senate by Senators Lieberman (D-CT),
Mikulski (D-MD), Bond (R-MO), Frist (R-TN) and Domenici (R-NM) and in the
House by House Science Chair Sherwood Boehlert (R-NY), and Representative
John Larson (D-CT).

4. Special Task Force Appointed to Review Individuals with Disabilities
Education Act (IDEA)

President Bush has created a special commission to "collect information and
study issues related to federal, state, and local special education
programs, with the goal of recommending policies for improving the education
performance of students with disabilities." The Commission will submit a
report by April 30, 2002 containing its findings and recommendations, along
with the reasons why the costs of special education have grown and ways the
federal government can assist states and local districts with students with
disabilities. Former Iowa Governor Terry Edward Branstand will head the

Congress is scheduled to reauthorize IDEA next year; this year, however,
many Senate Democrats are insisting that additional funding be incorporated
into the ESEA bill so the federal government can meet its commitment to fund
40 percent of IDEA (currently, the federal government provides only about 17
percent of the cost toward providing a free and appropriate education to
disabled students).

If you have questions or concerns about any of the information provided
above, please contact Jodi Peterson at NSTA, [EMAIL PROTECTED]

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