AERA Weighs in on Wide Range of Federal Science Policy Issues

May 2017

AERA, along with other scientific societies, has been actively engaged in recent months conferring with Members of Congress about the importance of investing in science, encouraging the administration to appoint people to critical leadership positions within the federal government, and weighing in on federal agency policies and regulations.

Building on the demonstration of public support for science at the March for Science, AERA is working together with colleagues to help organize delegations of scientists to meet with strategically selected members of Congress in their district offices during the Memorial Day recess. The purpose of these meetings is to encourage investment in federal science budgets in fiscal year 2018 and to provide specific examples of how these investments benefit constituents in key congressional districts.

As with any new administration, it can take several months for political appointments to be made. However, certain leadership positions should take priority due to the critical role that they play, including the Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy. AERA signed a community letter encouraging the President to quickly fill this position with a highly qualified individual.

Another essential position is the Director of the Census Bureau after John Thompson stepped down earlier this month. As members of The Census Project, AERA signed a letter to President Trump and Secretary Ross, urging a timely appointment of the next director.

Also this past month AERA submitted several letters to federal agencies. AERA joined over 50 scientific organizations on a letter to the Office of Management and Budget and the State Department regarding proposed addition of supplemental questions for visa applications. The concern focused on the vague and ill-defined visa requirements that could unintentionally have a chilling effect on foreign residents aspiring to pursue academic study and scientific research in the United States.

In addition, AERA commented on the Survey of Doctorate Recipients (SDR), applauding the expansion of the SDR sample in 2015 and 2017 while expressing concern about the corresponding decision to degrade the longitudinal aspect of the survey. The letter also encouraged inclusion of education research as a separate field in the SDR.

This set of activities illustrates the range and breadth of how AERA tracks federal policy, engages AERA members, communicates with policymakers, and advocates on behalf of the field of education research. 

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