President’s Budget Threatens Support for Education and Public Engagement in Science

The President’s recently released preliminary budget proposal for Fiscal Year 2018 includes elements that are deeply troubling to the Association of Science-Technology Centers (ASTC) and its member institutions—science centers and science museums. The budget blueprint proposes complete elimination of some agencies, including the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). In addition, the plan would significantly reduce support or reorganize priorities for key science and education agencies, including the Department of Education, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

In the months ahead, the Administration will submit, and Congress will review, a full budget proposal for Fiscal Year 2018. This initial plan, however, signals a direction that science centers and science museums cannot leave unchallenged. ASTC will be working with its members and supporters on a detailed plan of action to engage actively on this issue.

“Budget reductions for federally funded research will jeopardize future scientific progress in areas that are critical to all Americans. Budget reductions for education and outreach place at serious risk the long-standing and productive collaboration between federal agencies and ASTC institutions to engage Americans on science-based topics relevant to their lives,” said Bud Rock, ASTC President and CEO. “On behalf of the communities that we serve throughout the United States, we will urge Congress to continue its bipartisan support for those agencies that assist our science centers and science museums in their valuable work.”

Science centers and science museums are committed to advancing public engagement in science and contributing to the development of a scientifically literate society. In the face of these proposed reductions, ASTC will redouble its efforts in the months ahead to reverse this negative direction. With continued federal support, ASTC institutions will help a young generation explore science, technology, engineering, and mathematics; help teachers develop creative minds; and help inspire people of all ages about the wonders and the meaning of science in their lives.