The Science Laureate would have traveled around the country to promote STEM education and career choices. House Science, Space, and Technology Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) released this statement regarding the bill:
“Scientific discovery fuels the innovation that keeps our economy strong. I am happy to be an original cosponsor of bipartisan legislation that for the first time creates a national spokesman for science. An effective Science Laureate will not only be an accomplished scientist, but a role model who inspires students to pursue advanced degrees in science, math and engineering. To remain the world leader in a high-tech global marketplace, we must continue to inspire the innovators of tomorrow.”
How can that be a bad thing? At a time when America is lagging behind in STEM education and women and minorities are significantly underrepresented, this should have been an easy decision. From Science Magazine:
The bill was never discussed in any committee, however, and Larry Hart of the American Conservative Union hit the roof when he saw it on the House calendar for the next day. (The Washington, D.C.-based group calls itself “the oldest and largest grassroots conservative organization in the nation.”) In a letter to other conservative organizations and every House member, Hart said the bill would give President Barack Obama the opportunity to appoint someone “who will share his view that science should serve political ends, on such issues as climate change and regulation of greenhouse gases.” He also called the bill ‘a needless addition to the long list of presidential appointments.
The record of the Science, Space, and Technology Committee is dismal though so it probably shouldn’t have come as a shock that even this bill couldn’t get passed and implemented or that STEM was devalued. Only 11 percent of the bills made it out of committee and only 3 percent were enacted.
It is long past time for the House of Representatives to start addressing the real needs of the nation instead of using obstructionist tactics to further partisan goals. We need to encourage American children to value STEM education and to consider careers in the sciences because science fuels innovation and economic security. Having a Science Laureate is a great first step in making that happen. According to Neil DeGrasse Tyson, we need to start dreaming again.
Christin Berger is the Recovered Conservative. She is passionate about the environment, equality, and education. She earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from the University of Nebraska at Omaha after serving 12 years as an Army Medic. She is the author of the Jacqueline the Great series of children’s books which is a series aimed at empowering young girls to believe that they can do anything they want to do. She has several works in progress including a book series aimed at celebrating our differences. She shares her home with five very creative children (read: messy) and one very active ferret. You can follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Google +.