Draft of Senate ESEA Bill Contains NO Set Aside for Science and Math Educators
Your Action Needed Now!!!
Last week, a second draft of the Senate's ESEA bill that deals with teacher quality (Title II) was released. In this current Title II draft, there is NO language requiring LEAs or districts to set aside a specific amount of nfunds for science and math teacher professional development. (Currently, the Eisenhower professional development program guarantees $335 million a year for science and math teacher training .)
A draft of this Title II legislation released last October did contain a set aside for science and math educators. This new legislation is similar to the bill introduced last fall by Senator Judd Gregg (R-NH) . It allows for the Eisenhower program to be included into a block grant; although LEAs are "required" to spend funds for professional development, there is no language authorizing a specific percentage or dollar amount that must be spent on teacher training. Consequently, administrators could spend $1 of these funds for professional development and satisfy the bill's requirement.
NSTA believes that without language authorizing a specific amount or set-aside which clearly outlines how much should be spend on teacher training that science educators will lose professional development funding.
Democrat and Republican staffers are hoping to present a bi-partisan bill. This legislation is expected to be introduced next week, and Senate Republicans hope to get it to the Senate floor by Feb. 23.
Teachers in New Hampshire: PLEASE call Senator Gregg as soon as possible at 202-224-3324. Ask him to maintain the current federal commitment to science and math education. Ask him to include a set-aside for professional development for science and math educators in Title II. Explain why these funds are important to you, how you use them, and why loss of the Eisenhower state grants would affect you.
All teachers reading this message are also **strongly encouraged** to contact their Senators offices with this message. To contact your representatives by phone: Call the Capitol switchboard at (202) 224-3121. Ask to be connected to your Senators' offices.
Below is the letter sent by NSTA and NCTM (National Council of Teachers of Mathematics) to Senator Jim Jeffords, chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. If you have any questions, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org. PLEASE CALL YOUR SENATORS TODAY. --------------- February 10, 2000
The Honorable James Jeffords (R-VT) Chairman, Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee U.S. Senate Washington, DC 20510
Dear Chairman Jeffords:
On behalf of the 150,000 teachers who comprise the membership of The National Science Teachers Association and the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, we are writing to express our extreme disappointment in the draft Senate proposal to reauthorize Title II of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA).
For 25 years the Eisenhower Professional Development Program has offered mathematics and science educators the opportunity to improve their skills, keep up with advances in their fields, and help students achieve to higher academic standards. Since 1994 the Eisenhower program has offered similar opportunities to teachers in other critical subject areas. The repeal of this program--and the elimination of this longstanding federal priority on mathematics and science professional development -- will leave school districts and teachers without these resources at a time when concern about teacher preparedness and student achievement has never been greater.
We are also concerned that the legislation, as written, requires school districts to provide mathematics and science professional development opportunities, but provides no specific funding for these purposes. In fact, it appears that in spite of a generous $2 billion proposed spending level for Title II, all but $1 of these funds could be spent on signing bonuses, incentive pay, computer training, behavior management, and reducing class size, and the professional development requirement of the law would be satisfied.
We urge you to resist efforts to dilute the federal commitment to education and amend this legislation to instead increase funding for professional development in the nine core curriculum areas and maintain the $250 million set aside for math and science. We believe the other purposes outlined in the legislation are of value, but not at the expense of high-quality professional development.
This past year, witnesses before the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions told personal stories and presented research stressing the critical importance of sustained professional development to create and maintain a quality teaching force. Pending teacher retirements and growing student enrollments exacerbate this issue, and in some states have led to increased hiring of teachers who lack proper credentials. Though language in the Title II draft stresses the importance of teacher professional development, the absence of required spending for these purposes negates its potential impact. Similarly, a requirement to "use a portion of the funds" for math and science professional development activities means nothing unless a specific dollar amount is stated.
The October 15 summary of the ESEA discussion draft released by your office included a set-aside of $250 million for professional development in the areas of math and science. NSTA and NCTM are confused as to why this crucial provision is not included in the Title II legislative draft released last week.
NSTA and NCTM fear that the long-standing federal commitment to mathematics and science education will be lost if this legislation goes forward. Teachers in core subjects will be forced to compete for already scarce funding for the training they need to upgrade their skills, sharpen content knowledge, and improve instructional practices.
As a leader in education you have consistently supported increasing the federal investment in teacher preparation and professional development programs as a way to improve student achievement and produce a better-prepared workforce. This assistance is needed now more than ever before if today's students are to be prepared for the 21st Century workplace. We urge your support for an ESEA bill that increases the federal investment in teachers and maintains the federal priority on mathematics and science education.
Dr. Gerald Wheeler Dr. John Thorpe Executive Director ExecutiveDirector National Science Teachers Association National Council of Teachers of Mathematics ***********************************************
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