AAS ACTION ALERT 2000-3
[Mailed from aas.org at 4:25pm 21 APR 2000]
This AAS Action Alert urges members to write their Representatives (and send carbon copies to Representative Ehlers' office) in support of three new Science, Mathematics, Engineering and Technology Education bills recently introduced by Representative Vernon Ehlers.
Introduction and Request
Representative Vernon Ehlers has just introduced three bills that would have a marked effect on science education in the US. The Astronomy Education Board of the AAS endorses these bills. We hope you will read this alert as well as more detailed information on the bills contained at http://www.house.gov/ehlers/issues/science/, and consider showing your support of Rep. Ehlers' intentions by writing to your Senator and Congressmen. We have attached a draft letter which, though a bit long, you may wish to use or modify. It provides a quick sketch of the nature of the three bills; see the URL above for further details. A more succinct summary of the bills may be found in AIP FYI #41, which can be found on the AIP FYI web page. (http://www.aip.org/enews/fyi/2000/fyi00.041.htm)
When you send your letters, please send a carbon copy to Representative Ehlers Office at 1714 Longworth House Office Building,
Washington, DC 20515
Kevin B. Marvel
Associate Executive Officer
(you can find your representative's mailing address on the following web page: http://www.aas.org/policy/aas.bios.html)
Dear Congressman _________________________:
I am writing to express my support as an astronomer interested in education for the three Science, Mathematics, Engineering and Technology Education bills recently introduced by Representative Vernon Ehlers (H.R. 4271, H.R. 4272 and H.R. 4273). You may find details about the bills on Representative Ehlers' informative website: http://www.house.gov/ehlers/issues/science/. These three bills support teachers and improve education for all students. There are a few highlights I would like to share with you. First, these bills help to ease the financial burden of prospective science and math K-12 teachers by providing a tax credit, which will pay for part of their college education. In addition, the bills support teachers by instituting quality professional development programs during summers when school is out. Such programs are crucial for maintaining teachers' excitement about their subject, giving them background information in their area of specialty and introducing them to a network of other teachers upon whom they may draw advice and assistance. Finally, the bills call for providing increased funds to the National Science Foundation to place Science Master Teachers in elementary schools. The Master Teachers will train other science instructors in the implementation of hands-on science and math teaching materials and will support them in selecting, ordering and maintaining science teaching equipment. These are just a few of the highlights of the bills. Happily, Representative Ehlers has found a way to accomplish all of these advances for SMET education without undue fiscal impact. These bills set up structures that allow teachers and government to work toward improving the science education of our children, which is so vital to our long-term success as a nation.
I hope you will strongly support these bills and urge you to sign on as a co-sponsor. Representative Ehlers has taken a bold step with this legislation, a step that could soon place US science education at the top of the list instead of being merely average.