House Panels Hold Hearing on Education Department, NSF Budget Proposals
House Panels Hold Hearing on Education Department, NSF Budget Proposals
 
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March 2015

House Appropriations subcommittees have been busy in March with several hearings on education and National Science Foundation-related FY 2016 budget requests.

Education Issues

The House Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (Labor-HHS-ED) met on March 4 to hear from Education Secretary Arne Duncan about the proposed FY 2016 budget for the Department of Education.

Although funding for the Institute of Education Sciences was not explicitly mentioned during the hearing, committee members discussed the importance of research underpinning policy. In questioning Secretary Duncan, subcommittee ranking member Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) raised research in the area of value-added models and chair Tom Cole (R-OK) referred to research on early childhood education.

On March 18, the Labor-HHS-ED subcommittee held another hearing, titled “Closing the Achievement Gap in Higher Education.” The hearing focused on strategies for increasing college access and completion for low-income and underrepresented students. These strategies include intrusive advising in community colleges; GEAR UP; TRIO; and an initiative launched by the Business-Higher Education Forum, Undergraduate STEM Interventions with Industry, funded by the National Science Foundation.

Benjamin Castleman, assistant professor at the University of Virginia, described his research in encouraging postsecondary enrollment and applications for financial aid over the summer through a low-cost, scalable strategy: text messaging.

National Science Foundation

On March 17, the House Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies (CJS) held a hearing to discuss the FY 2016 budget request for the National Science Foundation. NSF Director France A. Córdova testified before the subcommittee.

In her testimony, Córdova described the process through which NSF develops its future plans, including input from the scientific community, decadal surveys, and reports from the National Academy of Sciences. Throughout the hearing, Córdova articulated the importance of the social and behavioral sciences to NSF.

Subcommittee Chairman John Culberson (R-TX) asked Córdova about her thoughts on proposed legislation that would authorize funds for NSF at the directorate level introduced in the previous Congress, the Frontiers in Innovation, Research, Science, and Technology (FIRST) Act. Córdova responded by referencing the current processes NSF has in place to set priorities, noting that it allows directorates to be flexible in responding to scientific discoveries. 

Rep. Mike Honda (D-CA), a member of the subcommittee and a featured presenter at the upcoming AERA Annual Meeting, expressed his willingness to work with the subcommittee to ensure that NSF has adequate resources to support all scientific research. He also asked Córdova about recent statements from congressional members questioning the value of federal funding for the social and behavioral sciences. In response, Córdova provided examples of research funded by the Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences Directorate that have contributed to telecommunications, health, and defense.

Córdova also presented testimony in a hearing of the Subcommittee on Research and Technology in the House Science Committee on February 26. Daniel Arvizu, chairman of the National Science Board, also spoke at the hearing on NSF’s priorities for the upcoming fiscal year. During the hearing, Cordova indicated that she planned to work together with committee chairman Lamar Smith to work toward funding NSF projects that are in the national interest. This provision was included in the FIRST Act.

AERA has signed on to several letters on funding levels for IES, NSF, and NIH in the past month. They can be accessed on the AERA website

 
 
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