Congressional Panels Dump on STEM Reshuffling Plan
A bill approved yesterday by the House of Representatives science committee to reauthorize NASA programs, for example, rejects the two key elements of what the administration has proposed—stripping the agency of most of its STEM education agencies and putting the rest under one roof. “The administration may not implement any proposed STEM education and outreach-related changes proposed [for NASA] in the president’s 2014 budget request,” the bill flatly declares. “Funds devoted to education and public outreach should be maintained in the [science, aeronautics, exploration, and mission] directorates, and the consolidation of those activities within the Education Directorate is prohibited.”
Likewise, the House version of the CJS spending bill would restore money for STEM education activities at NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and put the kibosh on a realignment of undergraduate STEM education programs at NSF. “The committee supports the concept of improving efficiency and effectiveness, through streamlining and better coordination, but does not believe that this particular restructuring proposal achieves that goal,” the legislators explain in a report this week accompanying the spending bill. The report also notes that “the ideas presented in the budget request lack any substantive implementation plan and have little support within the STEM education community.”
More from the Senate report on the STEM Consolidation:
“While the Committee maintains its support of greater efficiencies and consolidation – as evident by adopting some of the STEM consolidation recommendations made by the administration’s budget request – the Committee has concerns that the proposal as a whole has not been thoroughly vetted with the education community or congressional authorizing committees, and lacks thorough guidance and input from Federal agencies affected by this proposal, from both those that stand to lose education and outreach programs and from those that stand to gain them. The administration has yet to provide a viable plan ensuring that the new lead STEM institutions – the National Science Foundation, the Department of Education, and the Smithsonian Institution – can support the unique fellowship, training, and outreach programs now managed by other agencies. Conversely, what is proposed as a consolidation of existing STEM programs from NOAA, NASA, and NIST into the new lead STEM agencies is really the elimination of many proven and successful programs with no evaluation on why they were deemed duplicative or ineffective.
The STEM-C program was recommended by one committee, but not CAUSE (the program created instead of TUES). Said the House report, “Consistent with the Committee’s position on the proposed STEM education restructuring, the recommendation does not support the establishment of the new CAUSE program or the transition of the GRF program into the interagency National GRF.”