Senate Lab Science Measure Introduced

On June 14, 2006, Senators George Allen (R-VA) and Robert Menendez (D-NJ) introduced the Partnerships for Access to Laboratory Science (PALS) Act. The new Senate measure is identical to the bill introduced in the House of Representatives in April by Representative RubÉn Hinojosa (D-TX).

The PALS legislation would create a grant program at NSF that would allow high-need school districts, especially those serving populations that are underrepresented in the sciences like women and minorities, to partner with colleges, universities and private sector companies to develop comprehensive plans on how best to improve the teaching of laboratory science.

“America can truly be competitive in this global economy, but only by challenging all of our students and inspiring them to pursue a variety of subjects—including hard sciences,” said Menendez in a press release issued jointly with Allen. “But we cannot challenge students academically or stimulate their interest if they are using out-of-date or inoperable science equipment in school.”

In the same press release ACS President Dr. E. Ann Nalley said, "Taught well and with the right facilities and equipment, science can capture imaginations. The PALS program will encourage more students, especially those from minority or disadvantaged backgrounds, to stay in school and pursue careers in the science and technology—the fields that will help keep America competitive in the 21st Century."

One goal of the PALS legislation is to increase the number of women and minorities entering into the sciences. “If you look at the number of engineering, science and technology graduates our country, only about 15 percent are women, about 6 percent are African-American, and about 6 percent are Latino,” said Allen. “That’s simply not enough!”

The ACS Office of Legislative and Government Affairs worked closely with Menendez, Allen, and Hinojosa to advance the PALS Act in both chambers of Congress. In addition, members of ACS Legislative Action Network wrote to their Senators in support of this bill through the Legislative Action Center.