On Aug. 9, 2007, President Bush signed into law the America COMPETES Act (H.R. 2272). COMPETES stands for "America Creating Opportunities to Meaningfully Promote Excellence in Technology, Education, and Science."
The measure authorizes a 10-year doubling of budgets for the National Science Foundation (NSF), the Department of Energy's Office of Science, and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).
The goals of the NSF and the other agencies include supporting science and mathematics education and developing programs to encourage U.S. students to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). Teachers will have access to research-based tools and professional development programs to improve elementary and middle school students' achievement in mathematics.
The legislation also authorizes a program that would expand low-income students' access to Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate coursework by training more high school teachers to lead AP/IB courses in math, science, and critical foreign languages in high-need schools.
According to the Senate-House conference agreement, the legislation provides $22 billion to NSF over fiscal years 2008-2010, putting it on a path to double in approximately seven years. Particularly strong increases are provided in fiscal year 2008 for K-12 STEM education programs at NSF. These programs, including the Noyce Teacher Scholarship program and the Math and Science Partnerships program, will help to prepare thousands of new STEM teachers and provide current teachers with content and pedagogical expertise in their area of teaching.
"We know," said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi after the act was passed in Congress, "that innovation begins in the classroom and that scientific research provides the foundation for innovation and future technologies. The COMPETES Act makes a sustained commitment to research and development."
"By focusing and investing in four key areas — math and science education, research and development, energy independence, and small businesses — the America COMPETES Act will launch new thriving industries that will produce millions of good jobs here at home and a better future for the next generation," Pelosi said after President Bush signed the legislation into law.
"None of this would have happened without the outside mobilization that occurred on this important issue," said Melissa Shannon, policy advisor to Pelosi. She thanked the MAA and others for "all you have done to support" the legislation.—H. Waldman