In keeping with our mission to advance the mathematical sciences, especially at the collegiate level, MAA federal advocacy centers on public policy efforts to recruit and retain minority and female students into undergraduate mathematics and mathematics-intensive fields in which they are most critically underrepresented; to ensure teachers are prepared to deliver mathematics instruction, particularly at the middle and high school levels; and to conduct outreach and programming to provide professional development opportunities and related efforts to strengthen mathematics instruction.
The MAA works at the federal level to increase funding for programs at the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the U.S. Department of Education (ED) that address these issues.
MAA Response to the PCAST Report to the President
MAA strongly supports the fundamental message of the February 2012 President's Council of Advisers on Science and Technology Policy (PCAST) report, Engage to Excel: Producing one million additional college graduates with degrees in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (pdf). Much of the focus of this report is on undergraduate mathematics education, which lies at the heart of all STEM education. In this response, MAA notes much of the prior work within our community, and expresses our willingness to engage in productive efforts to improve student learning in mathematics.
NSF's FY 2013 request totals $7.373 billion, an increase of $340.0 million (4.8 percent) over the FY 2012 estimate. Significantly, the request of $875.61 million for EHR represents a 5.6% increase over 2012.
The President's Council of Advisers on Science and Technology Policy (PCAST) released "Engage to Excel: Producing One Million Additional College Graduates with Degrees in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics." The report highlights the need to increase the number of students who obtain undergraduate preparation for careers in the STEM disciplines, and proposes some specific mechanisms for accomplishing this. (See also MAA response above.)
The scientific community and science press responded to a critique from Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) that accuses the National Science Foundation of wasting money and conducting "silly" research. The MAA strongly disagrees with this critique and supports continued critical funding for the innovation, research, and education that NSF provides on a highly competitive basis.
For more information on the report and the true value of the studies it criticizes, read:
MAA Past President David Bressoud testified before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, and Science, in support of President Obama's 2012 budget request for NSF.
The House of Representatives concurred with a Senate amendment to the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act, which authorizes funding for the National Science Foundation through fiscal year 2015. The bill was signed into law by President Obama in January 2011.
Since the bill was introduced, MAA has worked to strengthen federal support of undergraduate mathematics education. Read more here about the MAA's advocacy efforts on America COMPETES.
The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) maintains a website where you can track the progress of various authorization and appropriation bills. See http://www.aaas.org/spp/rd/approp07.htm
The Coalition for National Science Funding (CNSF), to which MAA belongs, publishes periodic summaries of federal research allocations and proposals, and the reports are available at http://www.cnsfweb.org.
Another useful tool in following the progress of proposed legislation can be found at http://thomas.loc.gov where you can search for a bill by its reference number or by key words.