AERA Executive Director Provides Comments on House Science Committee Request on Future Covid-19 Stimulus Bill
AERA Executive Director Provides Comments on House Science Committee Request on Future Covid-19 Stimulus Bill

April  2020

On April 13, AERA Executive Director Felice J. Levine submitted recommendations in response to a call from the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee for input on potential short-term and longer term needs that could be addressed in a future Covid-19 economic stimulus package. AERA also signed on to an April 13 letter to the committee from the Coalition for National Science Funding to address broader needs for the National Science Foundation (NSF).

The committee issued its bipartisan request seeking input in four broad areas: Opportunities for Additional R&D and Related Activities Specific to Covid-19 Response and Recovery; Near-Term Response to Covid Impacts on the Larger Research Enterprise; “Shovel-Ready” Research Infrastructure; and Long-Term Economic Stimulus/Recovery.” 

Levine’s recommendations focused on addressing impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic on education researchers and programs supported by the NSF Education and Human Resources (EHR) Directorate.

“This pandemic is not only having a profound impact on education processes but also starkly conveys the essential role of education in developing best practices and adaptation and mitigation strategies,” Levine wrote.

Levine urged supplemental funding for research grants that particularly support graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, and early career scholars. This recommendation is aligned with an April 7 letter from four higher education organizations calling for supplemental funding for federal research agencies. 

In addition, Levine’s letter provided examples of education research that could be examined through additional support for RAPID grants and longer term research on the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic on STEM education and research through the EHR Core Research program. The letter also included a recommendation to invest in infrastructure that could bring together new ideas, data, and tools to advance knowledge of STEM education and learning.

Levine advocated support for programs such as NSF INCLUDES that foster increasing diversity and broadening participation in the STEM education and workforce pipeline. These programs are even more critical as the pandemic has magnified inequities in the education system that inhibit interest and attainment in STEM.

The House committee is soliciting recommendations for a potential fifth economic stimulus package being sought by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY) to address needs created by the Covid-19 pandemic. On April 24, President Donald Trump signed into law a fourth economic package to replenish funding for the Paycheck Protection Program for small businesses, to support hospitals, and to provide funding to the National Institutes of Health for Covid-19 testing.