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Policy Updates

The Senate Appropriations Committee has recommended keeping alive the NSF MSP program, as distinct from the Department of Education's MSP program.

The appropriations for the National Science Foundation, including the NSF education programs, are contained in the appropriations for HUD, the Veterans Administration, and Independent Agencies. The most recent development in this connection is that the Senate Appropriations Committee has produced its recommended version of this bill, thus forwarding it to the full Senate for action. The Senate version, like the one from the House of Representatives, insists on keeping alive the NSF MSP program, as distinct from the Department of Education's MSP program. This in itself is a clear policy directive, and contradicts the Administration's request. The Senate bill includes this statement:

"[T]he Committee rejects the administration's request to transfer the Math and Science Partnership [MSP] program to the Department of Education. Current activities initiated by MSP are only beginning to provide measurable results and have yet to be ready for implementation on a nationwide basis. The MSP program is an important asset in providing improved math and science education by partnering local school districts with faculty of colleges and universities."

The Senate recommends that the NSF MSP program be funded at $110.0 million. This is $29.2 million (21.0 percent) less than last year's funding of $139.2 million. The next step is action by the full Senate; as of October 12th, no date for this vote has been set. Once the Senate has voted on the appropriation, the next step is the conference, in which the Senate bill's provisions are reconciled with the House's, which would provide $82.5 million for this program. Congress recently passed a continuing resolution, authorizing the government to keep in operation at FY 2004 levels; the waiting game for final approval of FY 2005 spending may last into the new year, as it has often in the recent past.

Sources for this note include: the FYI newsletter of AIP for Sept. 22; NSF's Congressional Update; and the Library of Congress's website tracking the status of appropriations bills:

American Chemical Society Statement on the NSF MSP program

In past Updates, we have reported statements from NSTA and the American Institute of Physics regarding the NSF MSP program. The following is from a statement by the American Chemical Society on NSF's FY 2005 budget. It articulates ACS's understanding of the complementary relationship between NSF education projects and those of the Dept. of Education:

"NSF plays a critical role in sustaining America's technological leadership by fostering improvements in science and engineering education at the K-12, undergraduate, and graduate levels. It is alarming that the nation's growing demand for scientists and engineers is coming at a time of declining science achievement by high school students and decreasing numbers of students earning technical degrees."

"ACS strongly opposes the proposed phase-out of the NSF Math and Science Partnership program. This high quality, peer-reviewed program creates partnerships among higher education institutions and schools districts to improve K-12 teacher training and curriculum development in these subjects. It links some of the finest university researchers with school districts to seed the innovative models and tests that can then be widely disseminated across states--often through support from the Department of Education. The loss of these funds will damage the nation's ability to produce the quality students needed to enter the strategically important science and engineering workforce."