Will science ed see significant budget cuts amid STEM push?
- President Donald Trump's original proposed budget unveiled last May cuts more than $3 billion in science education funding, including the education divisions of NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration as well as several federal grant programs, EdSource reports.
- The budget is yet to be decided, and both House and Senate versions of the budget soften the proposed cuts, but some educators worry that eliminating the NASA and NOAA education divisions will cut off curriculum sources often used in the classroom at a time when STEM education is deemed more important than ever in a globally competitive workplace.
- Educators in California and 18 other states that have adopted the Next Generation Science Standards also feel that the elimination of teacher training grants will impact the implementation of the standards.
While some see Trump’s budget proposal as an ideological attack on science, an official statement in “Major Savings and Reforms in the President’s 2018 Budget” states that “these proposals encompass a common sense approach to redefine the proper role of the Federal Government, and curtail programs that fall short on results or provide little return to the American people.”
The document also indicates that the cuts may be a longterm strategy in the Trump Administration. “Going forward, the Administration will build on these proposals in order to implement the President’s charge to create a leaner, more accountable, less intrusive, and more effective Government,” the document states.
While it is certainly likely that some of the programs that are being cut are not as effective as they should be, educators have a right to worry about the sweeping changes proposed in the budget. However, since the budget was released, Trump has also signaled support for more grant funding for STEM education, and proposals from both the House and Senate have moderated the potential impact of the original budget. Where the budget will ultimately fall on the issue is not yet clear, but it is likely that science education funding will be reduced from its current levels.
Schools may need to look at other funding sources and partnerships in order to promote STEM learning. Organizations like the STEM Development Foundation can provide ideas on how to bring communities together around STEM learning. Schools also may be able to land funding from philanthropic organizations dedicated to promoting STEM education. And some free resources and toolkits are available to help in STEM education endeavors. However the budget ax falls, these resources and funding sources are well worth exploring.