Senate Approves Menendez Amendment to Improve Science Education For Low-Income & Rural Schools

Senate Approves Menendez Amendment to Improve Science Education For Low-Income & Rural Schools

Will make partnership grants available for equipment, training

Washington - The United States Senate today approved an amendment introduced by Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) that authorizes grants for a pilot program to allow the neediest school districts across America to enter partnerships to upgrade their science laboratory equipment, develop new methods of teaching science laboratories, and train high school laboratory teachers. The amendment, added to the America COMPETES Act, is an effort to improve the science laboratory experience for students in rural and low-income schools and to increase the number of women and minorities interested in studying math, science and engineering in college.

"I am pleased that the Senate today voted to give our children the tools and opportunities that they need to succeed in the science arena," said Menendez. "Not only will this program help students on an individual level, but it is an important first step in ensuring that America remains a leader in the global economy. This measure will see to it that the typically underserved, such as women and disadvantaged students, are afforded the same opportunities as their counterparts in the study of math, science, and engineering. By diversifying those career fields we will not only promote greater equality, but we will guarantee a more competitive America."

The Partnership for Access to Laboratory Science, or PALS program, will authorize matching grants to be administered by the National Science Foundation. Eligible grantees are those partnerships between the private sector and high-need or rural school districts, a college or a university. The legislation has broad support and has to date been endorsed by the American Chemical Society, American Council on Education, ASHRAE, Business Higher Education Forum, Campaign for Environmental Literacy, Hands on Science Partnership, Institute of Food Technologists and the National Science Teachers Association.

The measure will allow school districts to use the grants in a variety of ways including: developing a plan for improving laboratory instrumentation and laboratory space; acquiring laboratory equipment and other scientific educational materials; and professional development and training for high school science lab teachers.

Grants may also be used for developing instructional materials that integrate lab and classroom learning; safety training; and developing hands-on laboratory experiments designed to encourage women, minorities, and the disabled to enter math, science, engineering, and technology fields.

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