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Vol. LXIII, No. 29
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
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Wilson and Marsee Attend Rush Holt’s D.C. Day Meetings on Science and Math Education

Ellen Gilbert

Princeton Regional School District Superintendent Judith Wilson and former Charter School head Charles Marsee were among the 50 New Jersey educators and leaders in math and science hosted by Representative Rush Holt (NJ-12) in another of his series of “D.C. Days.”  Participants travelled to Washington, D.C. where they met with policy makers and leaders, discussing ways to strengthen science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education policy.

“I am excited to welcome to Washington the men and women who recognize how important math and science education is to our students and our society,” Mr. Holt said in a press release issued by his Washington office. “Scientists and educators should not be the only ones who care about science and math education. Those concerned about our long-term economic health should care. Those concerned about the ability of future generations to compete in a new global economy should care. Those concerned about future innovation and progress should care.”

D.C. Days are day-long meetings where residents from New Jersey can discuss the latest in federal policies with Mr. Holt and other leaders in Washington, and where those in Washington can learn about the concerns and initiatives of those in attendance. Mr. Holt most recently hosted D.C. Days with primary care providers and first responders.

“I was fortunate to attend the Math and Science Stakeholders’ Day hosted by Representative Holt,” commented Ms. Wilson. “Knowing his strong leadership for the sciences and education in general, I took advantage of the opportunity to focus on current issues and initiatives from Congress and the US Department of Education.”

Since 2002, Mr. Holt has helped increase funding for the Department of Education’s Math and Science Partnerships by more than $150 million. These partnerships aim to improve student achievement in mathematics and science by combining colleges with K-12 school districts in order to support math and science teachers with continued training. Participants in last week’s program included faculty and administrators from Princeton, Rutgers, and Rider Universities, and Mercer County Community College, among others.

Mr. Holt was also responsible for a number of initiatives in the Higher Education Opportunity Act (H.R. 4137), which was signed into law on August 14, 2008. These provisions included the establishment of loan forgiveness for employees working in STEM fields, and the creation of Science and Technology Advanced Foreign Language Grants, which award funding to college and university programs that encourage students to develop science and technological knowledge. He also helped establish the Mathematics and Science Scholars Program, which provides grants and loan forgiveness to students who commit to five consecutive years of service in a math or science field after graduation. The Higher Education Opportunity Act also authorized the creation of a National STEM Database to provide students with information on financial assistance for post-secondary and graduate programs in STEM. This database will help capable students who are interested in STEM careers find scholarships to further their studies.

“For the future of our country and economy, education is extremely important,” observed Mr. Marsee. “Science education is particularly important, and Congressman Holt understands just how important it is.  A number of citizens of central New Jersey who share the concern about the future of science and mathematic  education had the opportunity to hear from a number of individuals in government about what is now being proposed and had the opportunity to ask questions, provide suggestions, and voice concerns.”

The seminar also featured a recently released report from the Institute for Advanced Study and the Carnegie Corporation about the future of math and science in the global economy, and the specific issues that local, state and national leaders should address as they prepare students for the future. Opportunities for innovation will arise, the report noted, as the No Child Left Behind legislation comes up for reauthorization, and with the “Race to the Top” funding program initiated by the Obama administration.

“As a public school leader, I was greatly appreciative of the design and content of the day as it allowed us to tap into a wide set of current issues related to math, science, technology and engineering education,” concluded Ms. Wilson. “Representative Holt’s knowledge, energy and passion create a dynamic that continues to keep central New Jersey on the cutting edge of this critical work.”

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