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Media Advisory 06-020
Commission on 21st Century Education in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Holds First Meeting Aug. 3-4

Panel seeks more than just another study highlighting systemic problems in U.S. education

July 31, 2006

The National Science Board, the 24-member independent advisory body to the President and Congress on matters of national science and engineering policy, recently established a commission to set new directions for U.S. education from early childhood through undergraduate education (preK-16). The board also serves as the oversight and policy-setting body of the National Science Foundation.

The newly formed Commission on 21st Century Education in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) will hold its first meeting Aug. 3-4 at the National Science Foundation's headquarters in Arlington, Va., (9th and Stuart Streets, Ballston Metro stop). On Aug. 3, the meeting will be held from 1:30-5:25 p.m. The meeting will continue on Friday, Aug. 4, from 8:30 a.m.-12:20 p.m. All sessions will be held in the National Science Board's conference room, 1235.

Last year, Congress asked the National Science Board to evaluate the need to reconstitute its 1982-83 Commission on Pre-college Education in Mathematics, Science and Technology. In response, the board held three public hearings nationwide to assess the need and interest within the STEM education community for a new commission. The response was overwhelmingly strong to create such a panel to address what many called a national crisis in STEM education. After reviewing the public hearing comments and testimony, the board established the commission on Mar. 30, 2006, and soon thereafter announced its membership and chairs.

The new commission's charter already points to an agenda that goes beyond those of many previous studies documenting detailed systemic issues in STEM education and offering recommendation-based but not action-heavy conclusions. This commission is working toward a specific plan for nationwide action that the National Science Board will report to Congress as well as public and private stakeholders in the educational system.

The commission expects to outline specific needs of the nation in STEM education at preK-16, although the bulk of its work is expected to focus on K-12 issues. It will also recommend mechanisms to implement an "effective, realistic, affordable and politically acceptable long-term" approach, and "effectively employ Federal resources cooperatively with those of stakeholders," public and private. The overall charge to the commission can be viewed at: http://www.nsf.gov/nsb/edu_com/charge.pdf.

"Finding agreement across wide constituencies is never easy," says Commission co-chair Shirley M. Malcom, who heads the Directorate for Education and Human Resources Programs at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).  "But we must act now."

Prior to the meeting, reporters may request interviews with the commission's co-chairs and vice-chair by contacting the media representative listed below.

Expected highlights at this meeting are:

Thursday, Aug. 3

  • 2:15-2:40 p.m., EDT - Discussion of a vision for 21st Century STEM education -- including a roundtable on backgrounds of members as they relate to the charge of the commission.

  • 4:05-5:20 p.m. - Commission review of tasks ahead and its proposed work plan.

Friday, Aug. 4

  • 8:30 a.m.-10:00 a.m. - Commission will discuss its charge as it relates to context of current policy, potential barriers and enablers toward implementing an action plan, and specific topics it will address during its tenure.

  • 10:20 a.m.-12:30 p.m. - Review of commission objectives and agreement on a work plan.

A full agenda and attendance registration icon are available at: http://www.nsf.gov/nsb

-NSF-

Media Contacts
Bill Noxon, NSB, (540) 672-6656, bnoxon@hughes.net

Program Contacts
Elizabeth Strickland, NSF, (703) 292-4527, estrickl@nsf.gov

The National Science Foundation (NSF) is an independent federal agency that supports fundamental research and education across all fields of science and engineering. In fiscal year (FY) 2014, its budget is $7.2 billion. NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 colleges, universities and other institutions. Each year, NSF receives about 50,000 competitive requests for funding, and makes about 11,500 new funding awards. NSF also awards about $593 million in professional and service contracts yearly.

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