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NSF & Congress
Hearing Summary - Bement Testifies at Congressional Hearing on PACE-Education Act

March 1, 2006

The Education and Early Childhood Development Subcommittee of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee held a hearing on S. 2198, the Protecting America's Competitive Edge Through Education and Research Act (PACE-Education) bill on March 1, 2006. The hearing, chaired by Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN), focused on sections of the legislation that addressed K-12 math and science education.

The PACE-Education Act grew out of a report by the National Academies* that makes specific recommendations for improving the nation's international competitiveness.

In his testimony, Dr. Arden L. Bement, Jr., Director of the National Science Foundation, began by thanking the sponsors of the legislation for their efforts to focus public and congressional attention on the need to improve math and science education. Bement referred to the recently published Science and Engineering Indicators 2006 as a source of data pointing to the increasing globalization of science. Although there is some good news in our ability to continue to lead the world in high-technology industries, there is also a growing concern that we are failing to provide the workforce for the 21st century with the math, science and technology education that they will need to work in those industries.

Bement listed a number of programs at NSF that duplicate or closely parallel those authorized in the legislation. He also testified that NSF was working closely with the Department of Education to implement the best practices in math and science education that have been identified in research supported by NSF.

Other witnesses at the hearing included Dr. Henry Johnson, Assistant Secretary, Elementary and Secondary Education, Department of Education, who commented on ongoing programs in his agency. Former North Carolina Governor James. B. Hunt, Jr., testified on the need to improve the quality of teachers by providing incentives for performance. He also stated that we need "American" standards for performance in math and science that the states would be encouraged to implement.

Tom Rudin, Vice President, Government Relations and Development, The College Board, and Peter O'Donnell, Jr., President of the O’Donnell Foundation of Dallas, both testified on the value and importance of Advanced Placement courses in math and science. Joshua Tagore, a high school sophomore from Connecticut who has taken Advanced Placement courses, gave a personal perspective on their value.


* Rising Above The Gathering Storm: Energizing and Employing America for a Brighter Economic Future (2006); available at http://www.nap.edu/books/0309100399/html. Return to summary

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