CONGRESSWOMAN ELISE STEFANIK
The House is scheduled to consider H.R. 1709 on Monday, June 8, 2009, under suspension of the rules, requiring a two-thirds majority vote for passage. H.R. 1709 was introduced on March 25, 2009, by Rep. Gordon (D-TN) and referred to the Committee on Science and Technology, which held a mark-up and reported the bill, as amended, by voice vote on April 29, 2009.
H.R. 1709 would establish a committee within the National Science and Technology Council responsible for coordinating federal programs in support of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education. The committee would be responsible coordinating programs through the National Science Foundation, the Department of Energy, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Department of Education, among other federal agencies.
Specifically, the committee would be required to:
The Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy would be required to monitor the efforts of participating agencies to ensure that a strategic plan is developed and executed. The legislation would require an annual report to Congress outlining a description of STEM education programs, the levels of funding for STEM programs by each agency, and a description of the progress made in carrying out the STEM education programs.
According to House Report 111-130, there are a large number of STEM education programs carried out by a variety of federal agencies. A 2006 American Competitiveness Council (ACC) began a year-long review of STEM programs and found 105 federal STEM programs that cost a total of $3.12 billion annually. The ACC made 115 evaluations of those programs and determined that in only four circumstances "the educational activity evaluated had a meaningful positive impact." According to the Committee on Science and Technology, the ACC concluded that "despite decades of significant federal investment in science and math education, there is a general dearth of evidence of effective practices and activities in STEM education." The ACC made a number of recommendations for the programs, ranging from a regularly inventory of STEM programs, to enhanced coordination, to a freeze on federal spending for ineffective STEM programs.
In October 2007, the National Science Board (NSB) released its own report, and recommended the creation of a committee on STEM Education, under the National Science and Technology Council and responsible for coordinating STEM education programs across federal agencies. H.R. 1709 would implement part of the NSB's recommendations by establishing a coordinating committee, but would ignore the ACC's recommendation to freeze spending on ineffective federal STEM programs.
According to CBO, H.R. 1709 would cost about $2 million annually to establish a STEM education committee within the Office of Science and Technology Policy.