(Washington, DC) – The U.S. House of Representatives today cleared two bills that comprise key components of the Democrats’ Innovation Agenda aimed at strengthening U.S. basic research, and improving and supporting the national corps of math and science teachers.

H.R. 362, the “10,000 Teachers, 10 Million Minds” Science and Math Scholarship Act and H.R. 363, Sowing the Seeds through Science and Engineering Research Act, cleared the House by wide bipartisan margins. 

The bills were both authored by Rep. Bart Gordon (D-TN), Chairman of the House Science & Technology Committee.  They are based upon the recommendations of the National Academies’ widely-acknowledged “Rising Above the Gathering Storm” report, which found that the U.S. stands to lose its competitive edge in the international economy unless immediate action is taken.

“That report told us that now is the time to take bold steps to ensure that our children are prepared for the jobs of the future and that our nation can continue to compete in the global economy,” said Chairman Gordon.

H.R. 362 – the “10,000 Teachers” bill would:

  • Establish programs at universities to recruit strong students majoring in science, mathematics, and engineering into careers in teaching; to provide these students with specialized education courses incorporating best practices for teaching science and math; and to provide scholarships for program participants of $10,000 per year.
  • Provide in-service training to math and science teachers to improve content knowledge and teaching skills via specially tailored master’s degree programs and summer institutes.
  • Expand existing programs at universities designed to expand the pool of undergraduate students who will become the next generation of scientists, technologists, engineers, and mathematicians.

Chairman Gordon offered an amendment to the bill that would establish public-private partnerships to entice professionals in science or engineering to enter teaching as a second career through stipends to obtain teaching certification and salary supplements provided by the private sector partners for their first four years in teaching.  The amendment was accepted.

H.R. 363 – the “Sowing the Seeds” bill would:

  • Provide grant awards through the National Science Foundation and Department of Energy to support outstanding early-career researchers in academia and in nonprofit research organizations;
  • Provide graduate research assistantships in multidisciplinary fields of national need;
  • Establish a presidential innovation award to stimulate scientific and engineering advances in the national interest;
  • And establish a national coordination office to prioritize university and national research infrastructure needs.

“Ultimately, these bills and ones like it that are part of the Democrats’ Innovation Agenda, are designed to provide high quality jobs for hard working Americans and ensure that our children are ready for those jobs – that’s what economic competitiveness and stability for generations to come is all about,” said Gordon.

Chairman Gordon’s own innovation package through the Science and Technology Committee includes the two bills which passed the House today as well as a third bill: H.R. 364, the Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy (ARPA-E) Act.  Charged with the mission of decreasing U.S. dependence on oil through clean energy technologies, ARPA-E will provide aggressive funding for innovative, out-of-the-box research projects carried out by industry, universities and consortia of groups, including federal laboratories. 

This program will give the best and brightest science and technology experts unprecedented flexibility and resources to develop new technologies through high-risk, high-return research addressing the nation’s most pressing energy problems.  The Committee will hold a hearing on the ARPA-E legislation later this week.

“Innovation is not just a goal, it is a necessity, and one of the first steps we need to take is to invest in scientific education and research along these lines,” Gordon said. “That investment is necessary if America is to maintain its position as a global leader in technology and innovation.  These bills are part of a framework that will get us there.”

The Science and Technology Committee has jurisdiction over all civilian, non-military research and development programs.