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arrangement are not reassuring at a time when we are simultaneously revitalizing our civilian economy and our national defense. It may be that this area of technical manpower will require the most imaginative attention of our industrial, educational, military and governmental
Much has been said about the federal responsibility
for solving the engineering manpower problem, whether in terms of instructional and research equipment, student assistance or faculty salaries. The magnitude of the estimates of the assistance required though are well beyond that which the federal government can begin to provide. Also the shift toward less government regulation and other direct involvement, along with the return of more res
ponsibility and resources to the private sector, will necessarily limit a federal role.
We examined the NSF science education programs during
our oversight hearings earlier this year and concluded that
. programs in this area may be too fragmented so that the overall impact of the effort is limited. Nevertheless the problems of scientific and engineering education are all too real and pressing to abruptly and totally terminate the NSF program." Funds were provided in our authorization to continue the scientific and engineering educational activity at a basic level, with a clear recognition that
"The NSF now has an obligation and an opportunity to reexamine, redefine and reconstruct the science and engineering education programs." We will be exploring with NSF their plans before the authorization process begins for FY 1983.
I appreciate this opportunity to meet with you and discuss this problem, which we all agree is so important to the nation's successful economic and national security revitalization. My Subcommittee will be continuing its examination of how our future scientific and engineering
manpower requirements can be met and will welcome your
interest and participation.
Mr. HARKIN. Thank you very much, Senator, for a lucid discussion of this whole topic.
A couple of things you said struck me. In your testimony on page 2, you mentioned the high school grades. An estimated 5 percent take no math or science beyond the 10th grade. The math and SAT scores have steadily declined. I believe a lot of this starts in the early years.
When I went to high school in the 1950's, it was extremely important to take math, science, physics, and chemistry. In fact, I went to a small high school originally and the students were leaving there and going to another high school simply because that high school had a chemistry lab and ours didn't. I did the same thing, so I could take chemistry. The big thrust was on science at that time.
But now, it doesn't seem that way. When I visit high schools now, it doesn't seem like there are any teachers there that are interested in that. On the other hand, as I have said on this committee now for 7 years, we have seen the programs that the National Science Foundation has had for teacher education and science and engineering education over the last several years declining.
It seems like, as you say, we are eating the seed corn. I am informed by staff it went from $80.7 million to $9.9 million. That's science engineering and education. How do you get them motivated? If we are doing what we are doing at our level, cutting it out, how do you get them motivated?
Senator SCHMITT. Mr. Chairman, the educational services experiment in science and engineering and mathematics that was conducted in the 1950's and early 1960's by the NSF will probably go down in history as one of the most successful educational experiments ever conducted in this country.
It was not a dictation by the Federal Government. The NSF provided a curriculum development service, a teacher education service in response to the Soviet technology challenge in which the whole country responded. The NSF experiment, if you will, which we have largely abandoned, was very successful, in contrast to
some other regulatory activities of the former HEW and now Department of Education that produced antagonizes and were, I think, detrimental to the educational process.
Whereas, you apparently were a beneficiary of it. I came a little bit earlier. When I entered Cal Tech, I was almost overwhelmed by what I had not learned in the 1940's in science and mathematics. I survived that experience, barely, but recognized the inadequacies of my public education. I was very, very happy to see what developed in the 1950's and 1960's with NSF's activities.
In this area as well as many others, I believe that we have to get the Government away from focusing its resources on the regulation of education in this country, and toward providing services, such as those that we have provided in engineering and science, that the educational systems cannot supply themselves because of limited resources available to individual school boards, for example.
We conducted that experiment. It worked. I see no reason to have abandoned it in the first place. I see no reason not to go back to it as we approach this very, very critical problem in the future. I am a great one for looking at models of things that the Federal Government has done that have worked.
We, talked before about the extraordinary success of the research and technology program which the National Advisory Committee on Aeronautics began in 1914 and which was gradually transformed into NASA. That is something that worked. It also worked with agriculture in a completely different way that was appropriate to the agricultural demands of our country. But, instead of building an energy extension service on that model, we put it in the hands of the bureaucrats rather than in the hands of the land-grant colleges where it would have worked.
The Federal Government doesn't always do things wrong. There have been some things we did right. The NSF teaching development program in the 1950's and 1960's was one of the things we did very well. It had assistance from NASA and a lot of funds, which have now dwindled. But, the NSF programs, along with NASA really were a catalyst for vast improvement in our educational capability
Mr. HARKIN. I agree with everything you said. I just hope we can get our authorization committees and the appropriations committees, to put the appropriate amount of money in there to get this thing going.
I would like to be an optimist, but I sound like a pessimist.
Senator SCHMITT. I'm an optimist. I think we are all smart enough to finally realize that these have to be done and we must adjust our priorities accordingly. That's one of the reasons why I hope that the Science and Technology Subcommittee of the Senate Commerce Committee can obtain some joint jurisdiction over NSF activities with the Labor and Human Resources Committee. Senator Hatch and I are discussing this. We haven't really figured out how to do it. Sequential referral would be perfectly adequate.
In any event we will continue to conduct oversight of NSF. I hope that we can get that shared authorization so that we can work with you in a joint jurisdictional relationship, as we do on most other science and technology issues.
Mr. HARKIN. Thank you, sir. Mr. Brown?
Mr. BROWN. Senator, I don't want to belabor your excellent statement. I have always been impressed with the balanced and reasonable approach that you take to problems of science policy, and I certainly include your statement.
What you have said confirms the statements made by our earlier panel this morning with regard to the complexity and seriousness of this problem and the need to approach it from a multitude of different angles, beginning at the earliest stages of training in mathematics and science to the engineering and technical fields.
One thing that struck me was the statement made very emphatically by General Marsh indicating his feeling that we can solve this problem if we made a national commitment to solve it. That is, if we recognized its importance to our total national security, to both our military security and our economic security.
This led me to feel that each of us in the roles that we play ought to contribute to establishing this national commitment in some fashion. I was led to raise the question whether we might be able to, through the existing mechanisms, the National Science Foundation, the National Science Board, we have, of course, Dr. Branscomb, who testified on that, and the science adviser to the President, if we couldn't take some new steps toward recognizing at the highest level the significance of science and technology and begin to fulfill this role of creating a sense of national commitment.
The question that I have for you to comment on is whether you see any possibility of a receptive atmosphere for this in the Executive Office of the President, in your relationships with Dr. Keyworth. I think Dr. Branscomb indicated that the Foundation would cooperate in seeking to do this.
There are mechanisms set forth in the Foundation's authorizing act, the organic act, for establishing national commissions in highpriority areas to address national problems. If we could, without creating some bureaucratic mechanism, use the institutions and personalities that we have, we could perhaps deal with this problem more effectively.
Would you care to comment?
Your question is extremely perceptive. No. 1, I have had conversations with Dr. Keyworth since the time when he was being considered for the science adviser and find that he also believes that this is one of the, if not the premiere problem that faces the long-term health of science, technology, our economy, and our military security.
So, I think there is very receptive ground in his office. I also believe that the President himself, is receptive. The President's history as Governor of California was one of great interest and awareness and understanding of what was happening in the major scientific laboratories of that State. I had that report from many different sources, and they are all very good sources.
I talked to him personally about this in December, and off and on since. I feel very strongly that he recognizes that the strength of this country is in the innovative capabilities of our individual people and our society as a whole.
Now, there are others in the administration who, in taking more of a bean-counting approach to budget cutting may not be quite as receptive.
I must emphasize particularly what it takes, in my opinion, to excite generations of young men and women in this country. In spite of the quality of the NSF-NASA education programs in the 1950's and 1960's, we must remember that Sputnik and the events around Sputnik excited a generation of young persons. No question about it.
The reason we got to the Moon, the reason that all of us returned safely, was due as much to the motivation of the young men and women who created and used the technology as to the technology itself. That's the essential ingredient and that's the reason why you have relatively less trouble going to the Moon than you do in building a Metro-one excites that energy of motivation and the other doesn't.
Whenever somebody asks you if you can go to the Moon, why can't you do something else, the reason is the key ingredient has not been generated by a John Kennedy, as somebody articulating something that the Nation is willing to do.
As I travel around this country and New Mexico talking to young people about science and space—which I still do more than I do about politics—that motivation is there and at the elementary and high school levels. There is a tremendous interest and awareness of science and technology, particularly in the last 5 to 10 years.
It seems to be another cycle where science, technology, and space are very, very exciting to young people. The reaction of young people to the Shuttle is extraordinary. I think probably it is as strong or stronger than anything that I saw in Apollo, although I was not as active out in the hustings with young people then.
So, I think we have very fertile ground. I think if we can find ways to provide the resources and the capability at the local level for science and mathematics training, there will be a very receptive audience. The question is how to provide the resources. I am less enthusiastic about a commission than I am about motivating students and teachers.
The most stimulating emotional influence that we have going for this country is the space program. It is not only stimulating and motivating for young people, it is absolutely essential to our future survival as a nation. I hope that in our conversations with the administration we can get a greater realization of the absolutely essential nature of our commercial and our defense involvement in space.
The President seemed to make it clear in his statement on strategic defense policy that he believes that that is important. I am not yet fully convinced that all the administration policymakers realize the absolutely essential nature of our involvement in space. This is one thing that could act right now as a catalyst to reversing at least temporarily the adverse trend in science and engineering education in the country as a whole.
Mr. BROWN. I won't belabor this further. I see nothing incompatible with the commission focusing on the overall problems and reaching the conclusion that some spectacular and dynamic and