“America’s economy is fueled by innovation, and innovation is enabled by a strong foundation in math and science. Our country’s math and science foundation is eroding, and our innovative strength is similarly weakening,” Senator Feinstein said. “This bill would strengthen educational opportunities in math, science, engineering, and technology from elementary through graduate school, increase the federal investment in basic research, and develop an innovation infrastructure – all which is greatly needed in an increasingly competitive global economy.” Feinstein cited the shortage of science and math teachers in California documented in the CCST report as a reason why she supported the new legislation.
“Strengthening the teaching of math and science is crucial if California is to maintain its competitive edge and economic growth…it is imperative that we take steps to ensure that our children, as our future leaders, are fully prepared with the skills to take on the demands of the country’s changing economy and workplace.”
-Senator Dianne Feinstein
The America Creating Opportunities to Meaningfully Promote Excellence in Technology, Education and Science (COMPETES) Act (S. 761) was introduced by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and is cosponsored by 57 senators. It reflects recommendations by the National Academies’ report Rising Above the Gathering Storm and the Council on Competitiveness’ Innovate America report. Both of these reports conclude that action is needed now in order to secure the nation’s economic and technological leadership in the future.
The bill contains many of the provisions developed for the National Competitiveness Investment Act (S 3936) proposed in 2006. That bill did not pass before the end of the last Congressional session. CCST, in a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the California congressional delegation earlier this year, urged Congress to take up the important issues addressed in the NCIA.
“We are pleased to see Congress once again considering actions of a suitable scale to have a measurable impact on the nation’s science, education, and innovation infrastructure needs,” said CCST Executive Director Susan Hackwood.
“[CCST’s] report concludes that strengthening the teaching of math and science is crucial if California is to maintain its competitive edge and economic growth,” said Feinstein. “That is why it is imperative that we take steps to ensure that our children, as our future leaders, are fully prepared with the skills to take on the demands of the country’s changing economy and workplace.”
Key provisions of S. 761 (COMPETES Act)
Increases authorized funding for the National Science Foundation (NSF) from $6.8 billion in Fiscal Year 2008 to $11.2 billion in Fiscal Year 2011. California receives about 20 percent of total funding from NSF grants.
Increases authorized funding for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science from $4.6 billion in Fiscal Year 2008 to over $5.2 billion in Fiscal Year 2011. California receives over 20 percent of total federal funding.
Directs NASA to transfer $160 million from its accounts for the funding of basic science and research for Fiscal Year 2008 and fully participate in interagency activities to foster innovation.
Authorizes $290 million over four years to establish a Distinguished Scientists Program, under the U.S. Department of Energy, which would be a joint program between universities and national laboratories to support up to 100 distinguished scientist positions.
Authorizes $210 million for FY08, and such sums as necessary for each of the following three years, for new grants under the U.S. Department of Education to develop university degree programs for students to pursue bachelor’s degrees in math, science, engineering, and critical foreign languages with concurrent teaching credentials.
Authorizes $190 million over four years to create a new grant program to improve the skills of K-12 math and science teachers, under the U.S. Department of Energy, for summer institutes at each of the National Laboratories.
Authorizes $146.7 million for FY08 and such sums as necessary for the following three years to provide “Math Now” grants, under the U.S. Department of Education, to improve math instruction for struggling elementary and middle school students.
Authorizes $140 million over four years for a new competitive grant program under the U.S. Department of Energy to assist States in establishing or expanding statewide math and science specialty schools and provide expert assistance in teaching from the National Laboratories’ at these schools.
Establishes a President’s Council on Innovation and Competitiveness and requires the National Academy of Sciences to conduct a study to identify barriers to innovation one year after enactment.