WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. House Education & the Workforce Committee adopted a comprehensive proposal to increase the number of American students pursuing advanced math and science studies in higher education.Led by Reps. Howard P. “Buck” McKeon (R-CA) and Vernon Ehlers (R-MI), Republicans proposed a multi-faceted approach to strengthening American competitiveness by increasing opportunities for students to study math and science. The proposal was included as an amendment to the College Access & Opportunity Act (H.R. 609), Republican higher education reform legislation expected to be approved today by the Committee.
“It is simply unacceptable that America’s high school students are struggling to keep up with their industrialized-world peers in the fields of math and science,” said McKeon. “This is a serious crisis that we cannot wait to address.”
“We must do more now to encourage our young people to pursue careers in these fields, which will not only benefit their future, but the future of our country,” added McKeon. “I am pleased we have taken this important step today toward addressing this critical situation, and I am hopeful that we can find more ways to encourage students to enter careers in science and technology in the future.”
“This amendment addresses a crisis. As the Committee recently heard from multiple witnesses, U.S. competitiveness depends on the quality of our Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) workforce,” said Ehlers. “Careers in these disciplines support the United States in maintaining its leadership in innovation and in ensuring that we can solve challenging problems such as designing new technologies, protecting our nation, and ensuring a strong economy.”
“I have consistently advocated for strengthening of math and science education for our current and future workforce, and I am very pleased the Committee has addressed this issue within the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act,” added Ehlers.
The proposal builds on the framework of existing federal higher education investments, refocusing a student achievement program, the Byrd Honors Scholarship Program, to better reflect the national priority on increasing the number of American students studying advanced science and mathematics. The proposal includes three distinct approaches to strengthening math and science opportunities for students.
· Math & Science Scholarships: Honors Scholarships would be provided to students pursuing a baccalaureate, masters, or doctoral degree in physical, life, or computer sciences, mathematics, and engineering.
· Student Loan Relief: Up to $5,000 in student loan interest would be paid on behalf of individuals with degrees in science or mathematics who serve as teachers or other professionals in the fields.
· Improved Coordination at the State & Local Level: States would receive grants to better coordinate and implement reforms that improve mathematics and science education as well as activities that lead to better teacher recruitment and training and increased student academic achievement.
For more information on Republican efforts to strengthen American competitiveness and expand college access for low- and middle-income students, visit the Education & the Workforce Committee website at http://edworkforce.house.gov/issues/109th/education/hea/hea.htm.