Each month SWE NEWS will provide a spotlight update on our public policy initiatives related to Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) education and the application of Title IX to STEM fields. This month's spotlight includes:
- Second Public Draft of Next Generation Science Standards Released January 8
- CA’s NCLB Waiver Rejected
- Congress Passes Temporary “Fiscal Cliff” Deal
- Rep. Rokita Named Chairman of House Education K-12 Subcommittee
- Senator Mikulski Named Chairwoman of Senate Appropriations Committee
- Characteristics of U.S. Science and Engineering Doctorates Detailed in New Report
- New Jersey to Launch STEM Teacher Fellowship
Second Public Draft of Next Generation Science Standards
On January 8th, the second public draft of the next generation science standards (NGSS) was released. The review period will end at the close of business on Tuesday, January 29th.
For the first time, engineering design skills and content about the application and practice of science and technology have been included in the proposed standards. SWE has been supportive of this inclusion, and believes NGSS is a strong step forward to exposing K-12 students to engineering. The Government Relations and Public Policy Committee is currently reviewing the new draft.
For additional information about the upcoming second NGSS draft, please visit: http://www.nextgenscience.org/next-generation-science-standards
CA's NCLB Waiver Rejected
On January 4th, Department of Education Secretary Arne Duncan sent a letter to California Board on Education President Michael Kirst to officially notify him that the Department had decided to reject California’s request for a waiver under the No Child Left Behind Act.
In the letter, Secretary Duncan wrote, “I believe that a State must agree and be prepared to take on the rigorous reforms required by all of the principles of ESEA flexibility in exchange for that waiver.”
To be eligible for a waiver, the Department had asked states to address three principles in their waiver applications: common standards, a differentiated accountability system with goals, and a teacher evaluation system that takes student outcomes into account. In its waiver, California decided to address only the first two, which appears to be the major sticking point with the Department.
Since their waiver was denied, that means that California must still follow the goals of the accountability system outlined in No Child Left Behind (all students were supposed to be proficient by the 2013-2014 school year), meaning many California schools are slated to not meet their goals.
California learned of its impending rejection prior to the Christmas holiday.
To review Secretary Duncan’s letter, please visit: http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/campaign-k-12/2013/01/california_gets_official_nclb_.html
Congress Passes Temporary "Fiscal Cliff" Deal
Late on January 1, 2013, Congress passed legislation to temporarily delay the budget sequestration impact of the “fiscal cliff.” The agreement raises taxes on individuals making above $400,000 and on couples making more than $450,000 a year. The agreement’s automatic spending cuts, known as sequestration, have been delayed for two months. Half of the delay, approximately $12 billion, will be offset by discretionary cuts, split between defense and non-defense programs. The other half of the delay will be paid for by revenue increases. The agreement also extends the R&D tax credit for one year.
It is now up to the members of the 113th Congress, who were sworn in on January 3, 2013, to negotiate an agreement that will avoid the sequestration cuts scheduled for March 1st. As these negotiations proceed, SWE and other leading scientific and engineering professional societies, universities, and businesses will continue to highlight the value of federal investments in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education and research and development (R&D). Over the years, SWE has signed onto numerous position statements urging the Administration and Congress to support these investments.
Finally, if the sequestration cuts do happen in March, it is likely that most school districts would not feel the impact until the start of the 2013-14 school year, due to the way that some key programs, such as Title I grants for districts, are funded. But other programs like the Head Start preschool program for low-income children, which is administered by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, would face immediate cuts.
With Congress keenly focused on fiscal issues for the foreseeable future, it does not seem likely that any of the stalled education authorization bills, i.e. the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, will be moving anytime soon.
Rep. Rokita Named Chairman of House Education K-12 Subcommittee
On January 2nd, House Education and Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-MN) named Representative Todd Rokita (R-IN), Chairman of the Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary and Secondary Education. The Subcommittee has jurisdiction over the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. Prior to his service in Congress, Rokita served as Indiana’s Secretary of State.
“In recent years, Indiana has helped lead the way with groundbreaking education reforms that have set an example for the rest of the nation. I’m excited to serve as chairman of the subcommittee with oversight over K-12 education, where I will have the opportunity to take what we’ve learned in Indiana to Washington, and also to ensure that states like Indiana have the flexibility and help they need to deliver top-quality education for students and families.
“As a parent of two young boys myself, I know firsthand how important our education system is. I look forward to working with Chairman Kline, ranking member Miller and my other fellow members of the committee to advance key reforms in the next Congress,” said Rokita.
More information about Rep. Rokita’s background can be found at: http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/campaign-k-12/2013/01/conservative_rep_todd_rokita_n.html
Senator Mikulski Named Chairwoman of Senate Appropriations Committee
On December 20th, Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) was selected as the new Chairwoman of the Senate Appropriations Committee by the Senate Democratic Caucus. Senator Mikulski is the first woman and the first Senator from Maryland to serve as Chairwoman of the Committee. She succeeds Senator Daniel K. Inouye (D-Hawaii), who passed away on Monday, December 17, 2012.
Prior to the ratification of her Chairwomanship on the Senate floor, Senator Mikulski said, "It's an honor and a privilege to be expected to follow the great leadership of Senator Inouye, one of my most treasured mentors, and become the Chairwoman of the Senate Appropriations Committee. It is especially gratifying to be the first woman to lead this powerful Committee. I am grateful for this opportunity to fight for the day to day needs of the American people and the long range needs of the nation."
To review Senator Mikulski’s remarks on the Senate floor post-ratification, please visit: http://www.mikulski.senate.gov/media/pressrelease/12-20-2012-1.cfm
Characteristics of U.S. Science and Engineering Doctorates Detailed in New Report
The National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics (NCSES) recently released a report entitled “Doctorate Recipients from U.S. Universities: 2011” that unveils important trends in U.S. doctoral education. The report calls attention to the changing characteristics of U.S. doctorate recipients over time, including the increased representation of women, minorities and foreign nationals; the emergence of new fields of study; the time it takes to complete doctoral study; the expansion of the postdoctoral pool; and, employment opportunities after graduation.
Understanding connections among these characteristics is of paramount importance to improving U.S. doctoral education and helping the system maintain its leadership role.
This annual count by the National Science Foundation (NSF) is a direct measure of the human resource pool that is on a path to careers in science, engineering, mathematics and research, and these data can serve as leading indicators of U.S. capacity for knowledge creation and innovation.
Trends in the report can be examined in greater depth through accompanying online resources, including an interactive version of the report and 70 detailed data tables available as PDF and Excel files at http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/sed/2011/start.cfm.
New Jersey to Launch STEM Teacher Fellowship
In December, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie announced that New Jersey will become the first East Coast state to launch the Woodrow Wilson Teaching Fellowship. Nearly $9 million in support has been raised from a consortium of foundations and private funders.
Created by the Princeton-based Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation, “the Fellowship recruits top science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) college graduates and career changers and prepares them to teach in high-need schools.”
"Excellence in education begins in the classroom," said Governor Chris Christie. "Today, we are taking another important step to ensure our teachers are prepared before they are placed in high-need schools. It only makes sense that we give our teachers the experience and the tools they need before they are placed in challenging environments. Thanks to the Woodrow Wilson Foundation and our five New Jersey higher education institutions participating in this program, teachers will be ready to make a difference in struggling districts where their help is needed most."
Beginning in the fall of 2013, the selected university partners will have 18 to 21 months to build academic programs that meet the Fellowship's standards for both rigorous coursework and intensive clinical work. The intention is for the first Fellows to be selected in spring 2014.
More information can be found at: http://www.woodrow.org/news/news_items/WW_NJ_TeachingFellowship_Launch.php