Kline -v- Obama — Who is promoting Bigger Class Size and Less Science

Chairman John Kline’s (R-MN-02) vision for reforming education — commonly referred to as No Child Left Behind (NCLB) which was the rewriting of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act — is getting a lot of negative comments as more information is becoming known.

Chairman Kline wants 10 percent of Title II, the section of the law that deals with teacher quality, to be used for class size reduction. Currently, nearly 40 of it goes to that purpose.

Additionally, the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) Education Coalition, an alliance of more than 500 business, professional, and education organizations — such as Microsoft Corp., the American Chemical Society, the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, the American Society of Civil Engineers — have expressed disappointment with the proposal, writing : “If the requirement for science testing is eliminated, schools will shift their limited resources away from science classes, less time will be devoted to science, and professional development for science educators will suffer.”

The coalition also complains that the draft bill would strip out the $150 million Mathematics and Science Partnerships program at the U.S. Department of Education without offering any new, STEM-focused program in its place.
While we recognize the bill’s goal of streamlining a myriad of education programs,” the coalition says, “we disagree with the absence of any strong STEM education focus for Title II [of the ESEA] grants or any significant linkage between Title II activities and workforce needs.”
The letter seeks to make an emphatic connection between STEM education and the workforce.

In short,” the coalition says, “we believe that education reforms that are strongly focused on the STEM subjects are reforms that are strongly focused on jobs and economic recovery.”

Kline’s proposal “sends a powerful, negative and unambiguous signal to U.S. schools and the public that science … is no longer a national priority,” read a portion of the group’s letter.

Conversely, while Chairman Kline is downplaying science, President Obama hosted a Science Fair at the White House today to see first hand student’s projects. The second White House Science Fair will include over 100 students from over 45 states, representing over 40 different STEM competitions that recognize the talents of America’s next generation of scientists, engineers, inventors and innovators. More than 30 student teams will have the opportunity to exhibit their projects this year, almost twice as many as the first White House Science Fair.

A report released today by the President’s Council of Advisors in Science and Technology (PCAST) concluded that one million additional STEM graduates are needed over the next decade to fill the growing number of jobs that require STEM skills. The report finds that:

• Fewer than 40 percent of students who enter college intending to major in a STEM field complete a STEM degree;

• Increasing the retention rate from 40 to 50 percent would provide three-quarters of the million STEM graduates needed; and

• Colleges and universities can significantly increase their retention rates by improving faculty instructional practices, helping students rapidly improve their entry level math skills, and creating multiple pathways to excel in STEM, particularly for underrepresented groups.

President Obama has issued a national challenge to prepare 100,000 effective teachers with such skills in math and science over the next decade. Key steps being announced today to meet that goal include:

• A new $80 million investment to help prepare effective STEM teachers: The President’ upcoming budget will request $80 million for a new competition by the Department of Education to support effective STEM teacher preparation programs, such as those that allow students to simultaneously earn both a STEM degree and a teaching certificate, and provide undergraduates with early and intensive experiences in the classroom honing their skills.

• A new $22 million investment from the philanthropic and private sector to complement the Administration’s efforts: After the President issued his call to action to recruit and prepare 100,000 effective STEM teachers, over 115 organizations, led by Carnegie Corporation of New York and Opportunity Equation, came together to form a coalition called “100Kin10” to help reach the President’s goal. Today, 14 of those organizations – including Carnegie, Google, the S.D. Bechtel, Jr., Bill & Melinda Gates, Freeport McMoran, and Michael and Susan Dell Foundations – are announcing a $22 million fund to invest in STEM teacher preparation and support. In addition, other 100Kin10 partners are making over 100 individual commitments, such as:

- National Math and Science Initiative will prepare 4,000 new STEM teachers from 31 UTeach sites by 2015;

- Teach for America will recruit 11,000 STEM Corps members by 2015 and connect other qualified applicants to additional STEM teaching opportunities;

- Donors Choose will inspire 50,000 citizens to sponsor projects in math and science classrooms over the next two years, delivering $15M in critical classroom resources and helping 600,000 students nationwide.

The vision of Chairman Kline is to look backwards .. ignoring our future …

The vision of President Obama is to plan for the future …

Voters will have a choice in November … not only who will be the President for the next four years, but to ask their Member of Congress “Do you support Chairman Kline’s vision ?”

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