National Academies Report Sounds Warning on Investments in Science and Education, Again

The National Academies released a report on September 23, 2010, warning that America’s competitive position in the world has deteriorated in the past five years and the storm that had been gathering in 2005 “increasingly appears to be a Category 5.”

nas_gathering_storm_revisited.gifThe report, Rising Above the Gathering Storm, Revisited: Rapidly Approaching Category 5, examined progress made since 2005 when the first Rising Above the Gathering Storm report was published. Created by members of the 2005 committee, the new report concludes that the U.S. is at a tipping point and that to address the “competitiveness challenge” will require (1) reauthorization of the America COMPETES Act, and (2) institutionalization of funding and oversight of the original report’s recommendations, which included strengthening K-12 education, particularly in science and math, and doubling the federal basic research budget.

The original report helped mobilize the passage of the America COMPETES Act in 2007 which authorizes National Science Foundation programs, among others. This legislation expires in 2010 and awaits passage by the Senate. The new report also notes that the bulk of funding to implement the original COMPETES’ recommendations was provided in the stimulus bill, a one-time, two-year initiative.

Both Gathering Storm reports set the context for the broader push to double NSF funding and improve K-12 STEM education. The principal research and education focus in both reports is in the physical sciences, mathematics, and engineering, although the committee recognized that funding in the biosciences has eroded since its doubling earlier in the decade.

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