H.R. 1858 - National Mathematics and Science Partnerships Act sent on 07/30/2001

July 30, 2001

H.R. 1858 - National Mathematics and Science Partnerships Act
(Rep. Boehlert (R) New York and 24 cosponsors)

The Administration strongly supports the goals of H.R. 1858. The Administration particularly supports the establishment of Math and Science Education Partnerships as an important component of the President's education plan, No Child Left Behind.

Although the National Science Foundation's current statutory authority is broad enough to encompass the authorities in H.R. 1858, the Administration supports House passage of H.R. 1858 and will seek improvements to have the following concerns addressed as the bill continues in the legislative process.

H.R.1858 would require the National Science Foundation (NSF) to award math and science partnership grants to institutions of higher education rather than to States or local educational agencies as proposed by the Administration. This would constrain NSF's ability to meet the objectives of the President's proposals. The Administration recommends that the language of Title I, Subtitle A, Section 101(a)(1) be changed to read:

    "The Director shall establish a program of awards to States and local educational agencies to establish mathematics and science education partnerships with institutions of higher education to strengthen elementary and secondary mathematics and science education."

The primary purpose of the Administration's Math and Science Partnership Initiative is to improve math and science education at the primary and secondary levels. The States and local educational agencies are closest to the elementary and secondary schools and students and most aware of their needs. For the partnerships to be effective, they should work in conjunction with State and local education reform plans and be aligned with State standards and accountability practices. Therefore, the entities ultimately responsible for student performance and for educational accountability, the State and local educational agencies, should be the primary recipients of these awards.

The Partnerships program would be improved if the legislation provided for greater accountability. The Administration also believes that, as currently drafted, H.R. 1858 is unnecessarily prescriptive and would tie NSF's hands in designing the most effective approaches and limit future modifications to the programs should they become appropriate.

The Administration believes that NSF is the appropriate agency to administer the Mathematics and Science Partnership program, in cooperation with the Department of Education. NSF has effectively administered other activities related to this initiative, and the Administration believes that NSF's expertise will be invaluable in ensuring a successful program. The Administration opposes the establishment of this program in the Department of Education.