Senate FY 2015 Department of Education Appropriations Bill: STEM Education

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Publication date: 
31 July 2014

The Senate Appropriations Committee has released a draft version of the report accompanying the FY 2015 Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations Bill.  This bill provides funding for the Department of Education and its STEM (science, technology, education and mathematics) education programs.

The bill was approved by the subcommittee on June 10.  The appropriations process is stalled and it is unknown when the full committee will consider the bill.  House appropriators have not moved their version of the legislation. 

Page 184 of the draft subcommittee report has the appropriators’ recommendations regarding School Improvement Programs that provide funding for STEM education programs.   Regarding the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) the appropriators explain in this section’s introduction:

“The President’s [FY 2015] budget was based on the administration’s proposal to reauthorize the ESEA, but no such bill has passed the Senate. As a result, programs in this account are based generally on current law, as authorized under the ESEA.”

The report later addresses the Obama Administration’s proposal for STEM education programs as follows on page 186:

Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics [STEM] Innovation

“The Committee does not recommend creating a new STEM Innovation program, a collection of STEM activities requested by the administration. Instead, the bill provides funding for some of the same proposed activities through existing programs. 

“The proposed STEM Innovation initiative is comprised of STEM Innovation Networks, STEM Teacher Pathways, the STEM Master Teacher Corps, and the Effective Teaching and Learning: STEM program. These programs are intended to develop, validate, and scale up effective practices in pre-K–12 STEM instruction; increase student engagement in STEM subjects; and recruit, prepare, and further develop highly effective STEM educators.”

A table on page 287 states that the FY 2015 request for STEM Innovation was $319.7 million.

On page 186 the report explains:

“Mathematics and Science Partnerships

“The Committee recommends $155,000,000 for the Mathematics and Science Partnerships program.

“At the recommended funding level, the ESEA requires the Department to award grants by formula to States for competitive awards to eligible partnerships, which must include an engineering, math, or science department of an institution of higher education and a high-need LEA [Local Education Agency]. Partnerships will seek to improve the performance of students in the areas of math and science, including engineering, by bringing math and science teachers in elementary and secondary schools together with scientists, mathematicians, and engineers to increase the teachers’ subject-matter knowledge and improve their teaching skills.

“The Committee believes States should put a priority on reaching underrepresented populations, such as girls and minorities, and using nontraditional STEM teaching activities, including robotics competitions, as a means of further engaging and inspiring students to pursue further study or careers in STEM education.”

A table on page 287 of the report notes the following:

Mathematics and Science Partnerships:
The FY 2014 appropriation was $149.7 million
The FY 2015 request did not request funding for this program
The Senate bill provides $155.0 million, an increase of $5.3 million or 3.5 percent above current funding

A later section of the report entitled Innovation and Investment repeats the same language about the Administration’s proposal to reauthorize ESEA.  This section starts on page 190 of the report, and includes language on programs such as Race to the Top and Investing in Innovation.