Menendez Secures Provisions To Aid Women, Minority Students To Compete In Global Economy

Menendez Secures Provisions To Aid Women, Minority Students To Compete In Global Economy

Washington - Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) today announced that provisions he fought to include in the America COMPETES Act (H.R.2272/S.761) passed the Senate as part of the House and Senate conference report late last night. An original co-sponsor of the competitiveness legislation, Menendez successfully fought to include provisions from his Partnership for Access to Laboratory Science (PALS) Act to ensure the bill will increase the number of women and minorities in the science and technology fields and aid in revitalizing high school science labs in rural communities. Senator Menendez introduced the bipartisan PALS Act (S.810) in March, and offered it as an amendment to S.761 in April.

"Globalization and technology are tearing down the walls of geography, language, and income. That is why it is crucial that we ensure our students are prepared to be great leaders and innovators in this competitive environment, especially those students who have the least resources available to them," said Sen. Menendez. "I am proud that this legislation will provide young people from all backgrounds the tools they need to compete and to ultimately succeed."

Sen. Menendez provisions in the America COMPETES Act:

· Increasing the number of women and minorities pursuing science and technology education, from kindergarten through the graduate level, and establishing a new outreach program for underrepresented minorities in grades K-12 to encourage student to enter careers in science and technology.

· Improving high school science laboratories by creating partnerships between high-need school districts, higher education institutions, and the private sector that will help schools purchase scientific equipment, renovate laboratory space, and provide professional development for high school lab teachers.

In the United States, high school seniors consistently perform below the international average for more than 20 countries on general knowledge in math and science. Fewer U.S. college students are pursuing degrees in math, science and engineering, and if those trends continue, by 2010 more than 90 percent of all our world's scientists and engineers will be living outside the United States. On international assessments, U.S. students score below the average compared to other developed nations on math tests.

The America COMPETES Act is based upon the recommendations of the 2005 National Academies' report, "Rising Above the Gathering Storm," which highlighted deficiencies in the nation's preparation of young people for entering math and science fields. The bill will strengthen educational opportunities in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics from elementary through graduate school. It will create grants for master's degrees in math, science, and foreign language and establish programs to improve math instruction for elementary and secondary students. This legislation also calls for substantially increasing funding for the National Science Foundation, doubling basic research funding over the next decade, and the creation of a national science and technology summit.

Release from introduction of PALS Act in March

Release from Senate passage of amendment to S.761 in April