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Math and Science Education Bills Sail Through House Committee

On June 13, the House Science Committee easily approved, by voice vote, two bipartisan bills (H.R. 1858 and H.R. 100) designed to encourage colleges, universities, and the business community to partner with local school systems to improve math and science education at the pre-college level and to encourage math and science majors at the college level to pursue teaching careers. Both bills were approved by the House Science Subcommittee on Research on June 7 (see The Source, 6/8/01, p. 5).

These bills “are designed to ensure that the resources and expertise of higher education and the business community are brought to bear on K-12 education,” said Chair Sherwood Boehlert (R-NY), who sponsored H.R. 1858. “Both bills recognize that the most essential element of education is ensuring that we have the brightest, most creative, best prepared teachers in our nation’s classrooms,” he added.

The committee also passed, by voice vote, a manager’s amendment to H.R. 1858 that incorporates provisions offered by both Republicans and Democrats who serve on the Science Committee.

One provision in the amendment, based on legislation (H.R. 1636) authored by Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-CA), would allow funds under Title I of the bill to be used for science and math enrichment grants to encourage girls in mathematics, science, engineering and technology and to prepare them to pursue careers in these fields. “There is no way that America can truly have a technically competent workforce if the majority of our students—females—don’t study science, math, engineering, or technology,” said Rep. Woolsey, adding “This will help create a bold new workforce of energized young women,” which means that “companies will be able to hire the workers they need right here in America.”

Another provision in the amendment, sponsored by Rep. Connie Morella (R-MD), would create a grant program to enable a consortium of community colleges to establish a pilot project for the purpose of encouraging women to study science, engineering, and technology. “Nearly 45 percent of all U.S. undergraduates are currently enrolled in community colleges, a majority of whom come from traditionally underrepresented groups in the science, engineering, and technology fields,” said Rep. Morella. “As we recognize that diversity in science and mathematics is necessary for our future success, these institutions cannot be left out,” she added.

H.R. 1858 and H.R. 100, as approved by the Science Committee, have been referred to the House Education and the Workforce Committee.

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