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EDUCATION FOR ECONOMIC SECURITY ACT
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 9, 1983
U.S. SENATE, SUBCOMMITTEE ON EDUCATION, ARTS AND HUMANITIES, COMMITTEE ON LABOR AND HUMAN RESOURCES,
Washington, D.C. The subcommittee met, pursuant to adjournment, at 10:05 a.m., in room SD-430, Dirksen Senate Office Building, Senator Robert T. Stafford (chairman of the subcommittee) presiding.
Present: Senators Stafford, Hatch, Denton, Pell, and Kennedy.
Senator STAFFORD. The Subcommittee on Education, Arts and Humanities will please come to order.
On behalf of the subcommittee, Senator Pell and I recognize all of our guests and the witnesses who will help us today. I am pleased to convene this second day of hearings on legislative initiatives to deal with the critical problems of mathematics, science, and foreign language education in our schools.
Yesterday we heard from Senators, from science and mathematics teachers, industry representatives, and representatives of the State education agencies and school districts regarding what they believe to be the best approaches to these problems.
We learned again what we already suspected, that the problems of teaching and learning in mathematics and science are many and complex and require a comprehensive approach at the Federal level.
Today we will hear from the administration, from representatives of the teaching profession, from representatives of the higher education community, and again from industry on these matters. Through these hearings, we hope to fashion a response which will in the immediate future and for the long term get us back on the track of economic strength so necessary for a secure future.
Senator Pell, do you have an opening statement?
Senator PELL. I do. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. As I mentioned yesterday, I was very, very heartened when the President in his last state of the Union address called for, "a quality education initiative to encourage a substantial upgrading of math and science instruction through bloc grants to the States.
While we may disagree with the approach that initiative might utilize and while I believe the problem demands more time than just the upgrading of instruction, I applaud the administration for recognizing the existence of a very real problem in this area.
Its willingness to advocate a new education initiative in this period of economic austerity is to be commended. I look forward to the Secretary's testimony and in working with the administration in fashioning a viable program upon which I hope we can all concur.
And I would add how lucky we are in the educational community to have Secretary Bell in that job because I think that he has done the best possible job that can be done for education and deserves far more credit than he has received. And I just wanted to pay my credit to his contribution to the educational needs of our Nation at this time.
In addition, I am very glad to know we will hear today from the presidents of the two major teacher organizations in our Nation, the AFT and the NEA. Their input is most necessary if we are to develop a Federal program that enhances instruction in the classrooms of America because that is really where success of any math and science and computer technology act will ultimately be determined.
And finally, we will hear this morning about another aspect of the economic security problem that is most often neglected; by that I mean the need to upgrade the quality and quantity of foreign language instruction in our schools, a field where we have failed miserably in the past.
I look forward with much interest to what our witnesses will say.
Senator STAFFORD. Thank you very much, Senator Pell. It is always a pleasure to work with you on these matters, and in a minute I will express my own pleasure at having Secretary Bell here, but in the meantime, the chairman of the full committee, Senator Hatch is present, and I would welcome any opening statement that you have, Senator.
OPENING STATEMENT OF SENATOR HATCH Senator Hatch. Well, thank you, Mr. Chairman. I am certainly happy to be here and welcome you, Mr. Secretary, before this subcommittee, and to be here with my two colleagues who do an excellent job in this area, of course, the chairman of this committee, Senator Stafford, and the ranking minority member, Senator Pell, both of whom have their imprint all over the education laws of this country. I want to join with the chairman in welcoming you here today, and as you may already know, yesterday in the Senate I introduced Senate bill 706, the science and mathematics bill developed by the administration. I do want to insure that it will receive proper and adequate consideration in the deliberations of this subcommittee, as we set about blending the best of all the proposals to come before the Congress into the type of a science and mathematics eduational package that will help our State and local school systems to improve the quality as well as the quantity of the important offerings in this field.
Mr. Chairman, I would ask that the balance of my remarks be placed in the record at this point.
Senator STAFFORD. Without objection, it will be.
OPENING STATEMENT OF SENATOR HATCH-Continued Senator Hatch. Mr. Secretary, I want to join with the chairman of the subcommittee, Senator Stafford, in welcoming you here this morning. As you may already know, yesterday in the Senate I introduced Senate bill 706, the science and mathematics bill developed by the administration. I want to insure that it will receive proper consideration in the deliberations of this subcommittee as we set about blending the best of all of the proposals to come before the Congress into the type of a science and mathematics educational package that will help our State and local school systems improve the quality, as well as the quantity of their offerings in these important fields.
Yesterday, before the subcommittee, Senators Domenici, Hart, and Chiles described the crisis our country faces because of the declining quality and quantity of the course offerings in science and mathematics available to the youngsters in our schools. Other witnesses supplied frightening data to verify not only the decline in the number of teachers who are qualified to teach science and mathematics, but the concomitant inability of school systems to offer sophisticated course content because of the shortage of competent teachers in these advanced areas of instruction.
In introducing S. 706 yesterday, I said that it was an initial step in the direction of helping resolve the situation on a short-term basis. As a former high school chemistry teacher yourself, I am sure you are abundantly aware that well-designed science and mathematics programs can introduce students to challenging experiences in these fields long before the ninth grade in high school where S. 706 begins to take effect. The early exposure of students in the middle school or elementary school years is essential to a well-integrated program that will engender an interest in students in pursuing more difficult courses in their later secondary school experiences. They also need qualified teachers.
Students in other nations with which we must compete for parity in the world technical marketplace often have several years of experience in science and mathematics before reaching the high school level. Well-qualified imaginative teachers in these early years of instruction are essential if youngsters are to develop the fundamental skills required for the work of the secondary school. For this reason, I would hope that out subcommittee will carefully examine each piece of legislation before us and that we will take the best of each and come up with creative legislation which will help State and local school officials develop an instructional program and staff adequate to the task our schools face.
Somewhere along the line we seem to have lost track of the fact that only about 1 percent of the population of the United States is trained as engineers and scientists. Yet, most of the science and mathematics education effort in our country has been under the misguided influence of the academic research community, which as someone has suggested, does not really have a philosophical rationale for or against science education for the nonscientist. Most, it seems, simple do not think about it or care.
It is my hope, Mr. Secretary, that we can fashion legislation that will take a practical, pragmatic approach in helping State and local school officials in their efforts to correct the science and mathematics shortfalls in their schools. Moreover, we all need to assist the nonscientist public in becoming more science and mathematics conscious, so that the youngsters of those who pay for, benefit from, or suffer the ill effects of what we do will be encouraged to develop excellence in the fields of science and mathematics equal to or better than their counterparts in other countries.
I will have some questions for you, Mr. Secretary, which I will submit in writing. I look forward to your testimony.
And as soon as you are through with your opening remarks, Mr. Chairman, could I ask for just a 2-minute recess so I can chat with the Secretary back here just for a second. I know that is unusual, but I would appreciate it if you would let me do it.
Senator STAFFORD. Under the circumstances, the Chair thinks it is justified, and the committee will stand in recess, briefly, to give you an opportunity to confer with the Secretary before he testifies.
Senator HATCH. Thank you so much.
Senator STAFFORD. We will include in the record at this point an opening statement by Senator Kennedy, who will be joining the hearing shortly. [The opening statement of Senator Kennedy follows:)
OPENING STATEMENT OF SENATOR KENNEDY Senator KENNEDY. Let me first commend my two colleagues, Senator Stafford and Senator Pell, for their wisdom in calling this series of hearings. I would also like to welcome our distinguished witnesses.
I don't think that you or many other people in this room today are unaware of the magnitude of the problem that our public education system faces, particularly in the area of mathematics and science. Our public school system must deal with a new era of technological sophistication with undertrained teachers, inadequate staff, out-of-date courses, and poor equipment. They cannot teach our next generation with these inadequate tools.
Today we continue a process which I am confident will culminate in a program to provide our school system with the tools that it needs. I have spoken many times over the last few months about the need for a program to restore excellence to our public schools. Within the next week, I intend to introduce the first piece of that program-The National Education for Economic Development Act.
I will not dwell on the details of my bill or on the problems it addresses. My colleagues and other witnesses have painted a picture of inadequacy that I cannot add to. I would, however, like to make two brief points.
First, our efforts must not be narrowly focused on a small population of elite students. Rather, it must encompass the wider population, while encouraging all students to receive training in math and science. Second, we must not focus exclusively on the secondary schools or the colleges. In the long run, the greatest benefits could arise from new efforts at the elementary school level. Our program should look to helping students at all levels. Both points are embodied in my bill.
My bill will authorize $1.5 billion to improve instruction in mathematics, science, and technology at the elementary, secondary, and postsecondary level. While providing support for school districts all across the country, my bill also targets the funds to those areas which need the aid the most.