Mr. FLAKE. Mr. Chairman, this amendment would strike a $4 million earmark for the JASON Project and lower the overall cost of the bill by a commensurate amount.
The JASON Project was founded in 1989. It's been around for 18 years. According to their Web site, the purpose of the organization is to design science curriculum for fifth- to eighth-grade classrooms.
We all know that science is important for any child's education, and if local schools wish to supplement their science curriculum with the services provided by the JASON Project, I believe they certainly should have that choice.
However, this earmark is going to the JASON Project organization, not to the schools who wish to purchase its products. This $4 million earmark is one of the largest in this year's CJS bill, and I remain unconvinced that JASON is so desperately in need of Federal funding.
In 1995 JASON became a subsidiary of National Geographic, one of the world's largest nonprofit science and educational organizations. In addition to the funding it receives from National Geographic, JASON is also partners with NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The Motorola Foundation, Shell Oil Company, and Microsoft also provide funding for JASON.
Why, with so many resources, does the JASON Project still receive earmarks year after year after year? This [Page: H6967]
is just the latest year that we have challenged this earmark on the floor, and we're always told it's vital, we've got to have it. Next year, it's vital, we've got to have it. When does the $4 million a year stop?
According to the JASON Project, support from all of these groups enables the organization to offer its educational resources online for free. However, all of JASON's curriculum materials must be purchased, costing schools $788 for a classroom pack and about $2,500 for a school pack. In 2007 the JASON Project was the recipient of a $2.2 million earmark. Last year JASON received $5.6 million from the Federal Government.
The JASON Project has been so effective in securing money that its Web site offers tips for teachers in securing funds from local entities in order to buy JASON products. So here's what they offer: They offer tips to teachers to go out and secure funds from local entities in order to buy JASON products.
If the JASON Project can't continue its operations without Federal funds after 18 years, I think you have to question its effectiveness. We have to stop funding projects like this year after year after year.
With that, Mr. Chairman, I reserve the balance of my time.
Mr. MOLLOHAN. Mr. Chairman, I yield 3 minutes to the gentleman from Rhode Island (Mr. Langevin).
Mr. LANGEVIN. I thank the gentleman for yielding, and I want to thank Chairman MOLLOHAN for his outstanding leadership as chairman of the Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science.
Mr. Chairman, I rise in opposition to the Flake amendment to strike funding from the Commerce, Justice, Science Appropriations bill for the JASON Project. And I, again, do want to thank Chairman MOLLOHAN in particular for his unwavering support of this important program, which ultimately results in its being a public-private partnership, which, I think, is a great example of how to invest in education.
The JASON Project was first created by Dr. Bob Ballard. Many of you may remember Dr. Ballard was the famed underwater explorer who found the Titanic. And Dr. Ballard has a real passion for children in educating the next generation.
I've had the opportunity to work with Dr. Ballard at the University of Rhode Island on science education initiatives, and I am grateful for his work to establish the JASON Project and for his dedication to training and inspiring future scientists.
As Congress addresses today's economic challenges, we must be vigilant in giving our future generation the tools that they need to succeed. The gentleman from Arizona noted the deficit that our country faces. Well, how are we going to get out of our deficit and ensure that we are creating wealth for the future, that we are creating prosperity for our country if we don't invest in our young people, if we don't invest in our future? That's what the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics
programs in particular do. They make sure that we are educating our young people who are going to be the job creators, the problem solvers, the innovators of tomorrow. We're investing in our young people.
STEM education has become a common theme during this debate tonight, and the JASON Project focuses on just that. Since 1989 the JASON curriculum, which is a free curriculum, has been distributed to over 7 million students and teachers. JASON fosters critical thinking and problem-solving while engaging students in real hands-on science, helping them understand complex scientific concepts.
I urge Members to vote ``no'' on this amendment and support funding to encourage and inspire our next generation of critical thinkers by supporting the JASON Project.
Again I want to thank Chairman MOLLOHAN for his unwavering support of this vitally important program.
Mr. MOLLOHAN. I thank the gentleman from Rhode Island.
Mr. Chairman, I thank the gentleman from Arizona for the opportunity to stand up and speak about and in favor of the JASON Project.
For those who might not know, the JASON Project is a powerful education program, as Mr. Langevin just described, promoting hands-on learning, science learning, that connects primarily fifth-grade and eighth-grade students and their teachers with great explorers, scientists, role models, cutting-edge research.
This subcommittee, Mr. Chairman, held a number of hearings on science education. It's a topic of great concern for the subcommittee as we fund the National Science Foundation and NASA and NOAA, all agencies that have wonderful science programs, and they also have an education mission.
So we sponsored these hearings to try to determine what is the best educational experience, how do we effectively promote science education among our youth, a challenge that is difficult to me.
The subcommittee heard from Dr. Harold Pratt, former president of the National Science Teachers Association, and Bill Nye the Science Guy--if Members on the floor don't know who he is, their children certainly do--underscores the critical need for science education programs, such as the JASON Project, to attract America's youth to science disciplines and to better equip our teachers through professional development.
Both of our witnesses agree that the struggle to attract and to retain students to science begins early, begins in elementary school, and that the preparation and education of science teachers is one of the most important elements in that recruitment. The JASON Program, which was founded in 1989 by Dr. Robert Ballard, who discovered the Titanic, has helped inspire and motivate more than 7 million students and teachers to become more proficient in science. And I can't think of a program that has
a better return on investment than one that has reached so many and that has such a profound impact on America's innovation and competitiveness in the long run.
It does one other thing, Mr. Chairman: It promotes the private-public partnerships that the gentleman, who is the author of the amendment, frequently alludes to. It's a wonderful program. It serves the Nation. And I urge a ``no'' vote on the amendment.
I yield back the balance of my time.