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Letter to the House in support of the America COMPETES Act (math, science, technology education)

August 02, 2007

Dear Representative:


On behalf of the National Education Association's (NEA) 3.2 million members, we urge you to support passage of the final conference agreement on the America Creating Opportunities to Meaningfully Promote Excellence in Technology, Education and Science (America COMPETES) Act (H.R. 2272). Votes associated with this issue may be included in the NEA Legislative Report Card for the 110th Congress.

NEA believes that quality math and science education is essential to prepare our students to compete in the 21st Century. Simply put, if we are to position our nation at the forefront of an increasingly global society, we must equip our students today with the math and science skills they will need to lead the way tomorrow.

We commend conferees for crafting an agreement that will make a real difference in strengthening math and science education. We are particularly pleased that the bill focuses resources and supports on high-need schools, with programs aimed both at increasing opportunities for students to study math, science, engineering, and technology fields and at strengthening professional development for teachers in these areas. Specifically, we support:

  • Targeted funding for programs and baccalaureate degrees in science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and foreign languages. It is clear that our nation's future economic prosperity depends in large part on our ability to attract more of our students into these fields and provide them the world-class education that will ensure their success.

  • Support of professional development for teachers, including summer institutes, teaching fellowships, and master teacher programs. Improving professional development is the most critical factor in strengthening math and science education. No single change will make a bigger difference in helping students reach high academic standards than ensuring quality teachers. H.R. 2272 recognizes that effective teachers have a deep knowledge of their subject matter and are equally skilled at using appropriate strategies to teach that knowledge to students.

  • Increased funding and support for the National Science Foundation. NEA believes that NSF is a critical player in any federal initiative to improve K-12 math and science education. NSF's Math and Science Partnership program develops and implements pioneering ways of advancing math and science education. The Foundation also has a long history of providing effective professional development for teachers, with an understanding of the importance of developing programs focusing on both content and pedagogy.

We are pleased the bill includes an education data system that will be used to inform education policy and practice to better align state academic standards and curricula with 21st Century skills and needs. We hope that the implementation of these provisions will include appropriate safeguards to protect the privacy of student and teacher data and to ensure that the information is not used for any other purposes.

Finally, we expect that any funding provided in the bill for salary bonuses would be subject to collective bargaining at the local level.

Again, we would like to express our support for this important legislation, and we urge you to vote for its passage.

Sincerely,

Diane Shust, Director of Government Relations

Randall Moody, Manager of Federal Advocacy