The House Subcommittee on Research and Technology began work on reauthorization of the America COMPETES Act with a hearing on Wednesday, November 13. Lawmakers are reviewing draft legislation introduced by committee Republicans to reauthorize this key legislation, which will coordinate federal STEM education programs and reauthorize research and science programs at the National Science Foundation (NSF), National Institutes for Standards and Technology (NIST), and the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP).
The STEM Education Coalition was invited to testify before the House Science Committee and share their views on the coordination of federal STEM education programs included in the Republican draft bill, which is titled the “Frontiers in Innovation Research, Science and Technology (FIRST) Act.”
In regards to STEM education, language in the FIRST Act:
- Prohibits NSF and NIST from implementing OMB-directed reorganization of STEM education-related programs set forth in the FY 2014 budget request—in order to ensure better stakeholder input;
- Authorizes CoSTEM to consider priority areas for federal STEM funding and creates STEM Education Coordinating Office in the NSF Directorate for Education and Human Resources to support efforts for outcome-oriented STEM programs
- Creates a new STEM Education Advisory Panel to be comprised of stakeholders from education and industry sectors; and
- Recognizes importance of industry investment in STEM education.
The testimony presented by the James Brown, Executive Director of the STEM Education Coalition (NSTA chairs the Coalition) focused on issues related to the coordination and management of federal STEM education programs and the importance of stakeholder input into those plans. In his testimony Brown told lawmakers that “STEM education must be elevated as a national policy priority as reflected through education reforms, policies to drive innovation, and budgetary priorities,” and that “action on STEM education policy should match the rhetoric on its importance.”
In testimony, Brown also told the committee that “the federal STEM education portfolio is in need of a serious overhaul. There are currently more than 200 STEM education programs scattered across 13 different agencies, a huge portion of which fall under the jurisdiction of the Committee. A large fraction of these programs are quite small in scope. On the other end of the spectrum, the Department of Education’s Math and Science Partnership program—the largest federal program that is focused solely on STEM outcomes—has not been reauthorized in more than a decade. Many federal programs have limited data on outcomes and effectiveness and all of the programs in the current federal portfolio would benefit from greater cross-agency coordination and a better system of evaluation.”
Read the testimony submitted by the STEM Education Coalition.
Webcast of the hearing: See it here.
Read Press Releases about the hearing:
Read coverage of the hearing:
FIRST Up: Lawmakers to Examine Bill Renewing U.S. Research (ScienceInsider)
House Hearing Skates over Big Disagreements on NSF Reauthorization (ScienceInsider)
Jodi Peterson is the Assistant Executive Director, Communications, Legislative, and Public Affairs for the National Science Teachers Association; and the Chair, STEM Education Coalition