4:25 PM EDT

Eddie Bernice Johnson, D-TX 30th

Ms. EDDIE BERNICE JOHNSON of Texas. Mr. Chairman, the amendment is to the section of the bill pertaining to the National Science Foundation. Education activities at the National Science Foundation are appropriated at more than $862 million. My amendment simply states that of the amounts appropriated for National Science Foundation education activities, $32 million shall be used for the Historically Black Colleges and Universities undergraduate program. The Congressional Budget Office has advised

that the amendment will not affect the overall spending in this bill. The funding amount is equal to a modest 1.6 percent increase from last year's funding. It has been recommended by the administration and by the National Science Foundation.

I, along with my colleagues on the Congressional Black Caucus Education Task Force, believe that educational opportunities are a key for our national prosperity. ``Give a man a fish, you feed him for today. Teach a man to fish, and you have fed him for a lifetime.''

Support for the Historically Black Colleges and Universities undergraduate program is an investment in our human capital. This competitive grant program awards funds for curriculum enhancement, faculty development, undergraduate research, and institutional collaborations. Funds are used to encourage undergraduate students to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and math--also called STEM fields.

Grants may also be used for initiatives to provide educational opportunities to develop well-educated math and science teachers. The funding level specified in my amendment will provide for an estimated two to four new teacher development projects. Highly qualified teachers have a firm grasp on the subject matter. They are able to capture their students' imaginations and get them excited about science. They demonstrate to the student that creative inquiry and rigorous investigation are the true

heart of science. They stimulate, invigorate and inform their students of the value and accessibility of a career in STEM.

There is a shortage of math and science teacher-experts, especially in high-need school districts. Data by Dr. Michael Marder at the University of Texas has shown that African American students fall behind in math test performance, beginning in the fifth grade. Experts have testified before the Commerce-Science-Justice Subcommittee on this issue, and I am pleased to see report language in support of the greater outreach to students at the primary and middle school levels. I'm also pleased to

see experienced-based science funding get more attention and support. Young, smart minority students represent a huge untapped resource for our domestic STEM workforce. In the United States, 39 percent of the people under age 18 are persons of color, and this percentage will continue to increase. There are great disparities that exist. Our top-tier scientific workforce suffers from a great lack of diversity.

For example, of all the employed Ph.D. engineers in this country, nearly 63 percent of them are Anglo, almost 3 percent are Hispanic, a pitiful 2 percent are African American, and less than 1 percent are Native American. These alarming statistics indicate that the current efforts are not enough. African American students drop off at every juncture in the STEM career pipeline, and we must do more to mitigate this loss.

The National Academy of Sciences is working to produce a report this fall which will provide policy recommendations on how to promote greater diversity in the STEM workforce. This report will discuss the barriers that minorities face in the STEM career pipeline, and it will provide suggestions on how to repair the leaks in that pipeline. The report is of great interest to me and to my 65 colleagues on the bipartisan House Diversity and Innovative Caucus.

We have sent letters to the Budget Committee, the Appropriations Committee and to the Office of Science and Technology Policy this year to try to get more attention on the issue on diversity. We are gaining momentum. We cannot ignore the fact that great disparities in STEM education and career achievement still persist.

The good news is that Historically Black Colleges and Universities are powerhouses when it comes to producing talented, well-educated science and math Ph.D. graduates. In 2006, 866 doctoral degrees in science and engineering were awarded to black students. One-third of those Ph.D.s were awarded at a Historically Black College or University.

[Time: 16:30]

As you can see, these institutions provide a relatively large portion of our terminal-degreed, minority STEM workforce. This educational model shall be rewarded with strong and sustained support.

About a year ago, I started the House Historically Black Colleges and Universities Caucus because I believe that these institutions deserve more attention for the good work that they do, and I'm not a graduate of any of them. That is why I am proud to offer this amendment.

I offer my voice on behalf of the 12.6 million black children in the United States. May each and every one of them experience educational excellence and the real promise of a bright future. An investment in STEM education is an investment in our future competitors. I thank the gentleman.