UC Berkeley News
Press Release

UC Berkeley Press Release

Chancellor leads effort to back federal math education bill

UPDATE: President George W. Bush signed the math and science bill, known as the America COMPETES Act, into law on Aug. 9.

– University of California, Berkeley, Chancellor Robert J. Birgeneau, who has led an effort by leaders of some of the nation's premiere colleges and universities to back a federal bill that would strengthen K-12 math and science education, applauded today (Friday, Aug. 3) the recent passage of the bill and expressed his optimism that it will be signed into law.

The bill (HR 2272), known as the America COMPETES Act, was passed by the U.S. Senate yesterday and has been sent to President George W. Bush for his signature.

"Now that both the House and Senate have given their final approval of the legislation, we hope that the president will sign it without reservation," said Birgeneau.

Earlier this week, the 10 higher education leaders wrote jointly to members of the Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives to express their support for the bill. In addition to UC Berkeley, the colleges and universities represented were Yale University, Princeton University, the University of California, San Diego, Cornell University, the University of Chicago, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Washington University in St. Louis, Stony Brook University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

"As leaders in higher education," the letter stated, "we see every day the need in this country for greatly improved science and mathematics education at the K-12 level - a need that we strongly believe can best be addressed by ensuring the means to educate and train thousands of highly qualified teachers."

The bill authorizes significant and sustained federal funding to create and expand programs to improve science and mathematics education at all levels. The bill also includes valuable provisions to expand research support for outstanding young researchers.

In particular, the university leaders strongly supported the bill's establishment of the new National Science Foundation Teacher Fellows and Master Teacher Fellows programs that are largely based on Math for America, the successful New York City pilot program that recruits, trains and retains highly qualified math teachers.

Birgeneau said, "In order for universities to be able to produce the scientists and engineers on which our country's economic prosperity depends, we need entering students to be prepared to learn college level math and science. We know, from study after study, that one of the most important factors in preparing young people for college is the quality of their teachers at the middle and high school levels.

"Our nation's public schools must have highly skilled teachers that are thoroughly trained in math and science. The National Academy of Sciences recognized this when it issued the 'Gathering Storm' report calling on Congress to invest in math and science education in K-12 to retain and strengthen our nation's preeminence in the world economy."