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Let's Reauthorize Elementary and Secondary Education Act

July 21, 2013

In March 2010, President Obama released a blue print for the next Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) Reauthorization, calling for attention, funding, and higher standards to improve STEM education in the United States..

Both parties would like to see ESEA Reauthorization this year or next, given the many education policy hearings on Capitol Hill. STEM is expected to attract attention, as the parties also agree that the U.S. is falling behind in STEM and that many STEM jobs remain unfilled.

On April 10, 2013, Ioannis Miaoulis, president and director of the Museum of Science and founder of the National Center for Technological Literacy® (NCTL®), testified before the House Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education as a STEM expert. He said, "Students need relevant, hands-on and rigorous experiences that allow them to apply their knowledge and skills; this leads to better retention and understanding of these subjects. The engineering design process challenges teachers and students to solve problems with limited resources, just like real engineers."

He also noted that "while only 5% of our Museum's operating budget comes from competitive federal grants, these are important because they leverage corporate and philanthropic dollars."

Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, introduced a new version of the ESEA on June 5, benefiting STEM education by offering teachers more education and resources.

On June 18, Miaoulis wrote Congressman John Kline (R-MN), chairman of the House Education and the Workforce Committee, in support of the Teacher and School Leader Flexible Grant program established under Title II of his H.R.5 legislation. It "enables organizations such as ours to compete directly for funds to support teacher professional development and maintains current provisions related to state science standards and assessments. The NCTL has worked with many states, including Minnesota, to embed engineering design skills and practices into their state science standards and assessments."

On July 19, the U.S. House passed H.R.5 along party lines. There was an attempt to amend the bill, to set aside 10 percent of teacher quality grants for STEM teacher professional development, by Representatives Tonko and Kennedy but the amendment was withdrawn. A separate computer science amendment by Representatives Susan Brooks (R-IN) and Jared Polis (D-CO), however, was approved to expand the definition of STEM. Action now moves to the Senate.

The Museum of Science, Boston

  1 Science Park, Boston, MA 02114  phone: 617-723-2500   information@mos.org