***************************************** From the National Science Teachers Association ... *****************************************
NSTA Legislative Update -- January 19, 2000
1. Looking Ahead: Congress Returns Jan. 24 2. The 2000 Campaign: Gore and Bush on Education 3. A Bidding War for Teachers? 4. News From the U.S. Department of Education 5. ACS Science & the Congress Luncheon Jan. 25
The NSTA Legislative Update contains important information on education initiatives nationwide, on Capitol Hill, and at the Department of Education. It is sent every few weeks when Congress is in session or as events warrant.
**Looking Ahead: Congress Returns On Jan. 24**
Both parties have outlined the legislative agenda they will pursue when Members of Congress return to Washington, DC. next week. With regard to education:
President Clinton has announced he will propose a new $1.3 billion school emergency renovation loan and grant program as part of his FY2001 budget. According to the White House, the $1.3 billion initiative will leverage nearly $7 billion of renovation projects in high-poverty, high-need school districts with little or no capacity to fund repairs
This new initiative is in addition to the School Modernization Bond proposal, which calls for $24.8 billion in tax credit bonds over two years to modernize up to 6,000 schools. Last year, Congress rejected Clinton's proposal to use $3.7 billion in tax credits over five years to help local governments issue $25 billion in bonds to renovate schools.
Vice President Gore announced two new increases for programs in the FY2001 federal education budget: an increase of more than $100 million (for a total of $247 million) for the Safe Schools/Healthy Students Initiative; and a new $120 million initiative to create smaller, safer, and better high schools. The Small, Safe and Successful High Schools Initiative would offer competitive grants to local school districts to create smaller schools or break up larger schools by funding innovative strategies such as autonomous schools-within-schools, career academies, restructured school days, and other innovations that allow schools to ensure that every student receives personal attention and academic support.
The President is expected to release his FY2001 budget on Feb. 7.
House Speaker Dennis Hastert has announced one of the first issues Republicans will address will be the education savings account for private schools, first introduced by Sen. Paul Coverdell.
Other education-related legislation expected in this next session of Congress of interest to science educators include the Senate's plan to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, to be introduced by Senator Jeffords; the National Science Education Act, to be introduced by Rep. Vernon Ehlers; and the Public Education Reinvestment, Reinvention, and Responsibility Act, sponsored by Senator Joseph Lieberman (D-CT). A draft of this Democrat proposal for Senate reauthorization of ESEA (Mr. Lieberman's legislation) would consolidate most major education programs into a block grant. The plan would "call on states and local districts to enter into a new compact with the Federal Government to work together to raise standards and improve educational opportunities."
Finally, Senate action is expected on S. 1266, the Academic Achievement Act for All, commonly known as the Straight A's Act. Straight A's allows the funding set aside for Eisenhower state grants and other federal programs (Goals 2000 and Title VI) to be rolled into one block grant. This funding could then be used by the governor or the state legislature for any education purpose as long as the state met specific student achievement requirements. The House passed this legislation last fall as a 10-state pilot program. (For information on this bill, see the NSTA website at www. nsta.org, click on Legislative Updates).
**The 2000 Campaign: Gore and Bush on Education**
Presidential contenders Vice President Al Gore and Texas Governor George W. Bush have announced some of their education proposals. Gore has proposed an infusion of $115 billion over the next 10 years to improve teacher quality and student performance. Gore wants to establish an education reform trust fund, which would set aside approximately 10 cents of every dollar of the budget surplus not dedicated to Social Security or to reduce the national debt. In addition to proposing salary increases for teachers, Gore wants to spend about $50 billion to make preschool universally available for 3- and 4-year olds.
Governor Bush has proposed moving Head Start to the Department of Education, and increasing Title I funds. Bush also believes that schools should lose federal financing after three years of failing to meet standards; instead that money would be earmarked as vouchers so that students could attend private schools. Gore believes failing schools would be required to adopt plans to aggressively overhaul themselves; extra money would be devoted to after school instruction.
**A Bidding War for Teachers?**
A New York Times article and a related op-ed and editorial in mid-January dealt with the growing concern of teacher shortages.
Titled "A Bidding War for Teachers Spreads Coast to Coast," the article discussed the education legislative proposals by New York Governor George Pataki and California Governor Gray Davis. In a speech before the NY legislature, Governor Pataki proposed to provide an annual tuition subsidy of $3,400 to college students who promise to teach at least four years in New York public schools with teacher shortages. Hours later, Governor Davis proposed offering candidates who agree to teach in low-performing schools $10,000 loans for buying a home; $30,000 bonuses for teachers who attain NBPTS certification (teachers from in low-performing schools); and $11,000 to repay college loans.
Such offers, says the Times, "have multiplied and intensified in recent months: at least 20 states, including Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, and Massachusetts, have begun to pay bonuses of up to $6,000 a year, sometimes for several years, to teachers who pass a new, rigorous certification test."
In a resulting op-ed titled The Teacher Crisis, NY Senator Chuck Schumer says he plans to introduce federal legislation designed to encourage more young people to become teachers. Under The Marshall Plan for Public School Teachers, all undergrad student loans would be forgiven for anyone who becomes certified and teaches for five years; the federal government would provide a $5,000 a year salary supplement for teachers who pass a special test in math and science given by the National Academy of Sciences; the federal government would cover 75 percent of the cost of a cadre of master teachers who would serve as trainers and mentors; and federal employees who return and go into teaching would be permitted to begin receiving their pensions as soon as they left their federal post. The Senator said his program would cost $15 billion over 10 years.
**News from the Department of Education**
The Religion & Public Schools website offers materials that can help school districts design their own policies on religious expression, inform teachers and principals of their responsibilities and the rights of their students, and provide parents with information about their children's right to religious expression. www.ed.gov/inits/religionandschools/
Secretary Riley will deliver his 7th annual State of American Education address at Southern High School in Durham, North Carolina on February 22, noon ET. The speech will be broadcast live from the school via satellite and the web to schools, communities, and cable access and television stations nationwide. For more information on satellite coordinates to host a free downlink site, visit www.ed.gov/registerevent or call 1-800-USA-LEARN.
The Department and the CEO Forum on Education and Technology have unveiled a new assessment tool which will help colleges and universities evaluate how well they prepare future educators to teach technology in the classroom. The School Technology and Readiness (StaR) chart will help colleges of education measure their strategic plans and funding, the age of the computers, and the amount of time needed for technical support. For more information, contact the CEO Forum at 202-393-1010.
**ACS Science & the Congress Luncheon Jan. 25**
On Tuesday, January 25, at the U.S. Capitol, the American Chemical Society will host a luncheon that will focus on science and math teacher professional development.
Education and America's Competitive Edge: Enhancing Professional Development for Science and Mathematics Teachers will focus on the needs and the future of K-12 science and math professional development programs; new ideas for professional development; how states are addressing professional development needs; and how states and local practitioners are implementing existing programs. Speakers for the session include Linda Rosen, National Commission on Math and Science Teaching for the 21st Century; Kip Bollinger, Pennsylvania Department of Education; Joseph Rosenstein, The Center for Math, Science, and Computer Education, Rutgers University; and Charlotte Pliske, Cleveland Municipal School District.
A number of staffers and Members of Congress have been invited to attend. The luncheon is part of the ACS Science and the Congress project; NSTA and the American Society of Mechanical Engineers are co-sponsors. If you are in the Washington, DC area and would like to attend the luncheon, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
And finally . . .
For a look at the latest lobbying effort on behalf of science and math education, visit the website at
Jerry P. Becker Dept. of Curriculum & Instruction Southern Illinois University Carbondale, IL 62901-4610 USA Fax: (618) 453-4244 Phone: (618) 453-4241 (office) (618) 457-8903 (home) E-mail: email@example.com