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President's Initiative on Race


The President issued a report on One America In The 21st Century: The President's Initiative on Race in which he:

  • presented his vision of One America, including an assessment of the growing diversity of our nation;
  • reflected the work that has occurred during the initiative; and
  • provided recommendations and solutions that enable the individuals, communities, businesses, public and private organizations and government at all levels to address difficult issues and build on our best possibilities.

A series of discussions were held around the country called One America: Conversations That Bring Us Together. They were hosted by members of the President's Cabinet and the President's Advisory Board to the Race Initiative, senior members of the White House staff and other Administration officials.

Status of OSTP Activities:

In its efforts to support the President's Initiative on Race, OSTP was involved in the following activities:

  • Conversation on Race and S&T Manpower at the 150th AAAS Annual Meeting
  • Contribution to the President's Report on Race Relations in America
  • NSTC Science Committee Examines Affirmative Action Issues
  • Encouraging S&T Agency Partnerships with Historically Black Colleges and Universities
  • Initiated work with the American Sociological Association to examine research literature on race

150th AAAS Meeting.  Together with the AAAS Directorate for Education and Human Resources Programs, then-Assistant to the President for Science and Technology, Dr. John H. Gibbons hosted a roundtable dialogue on race and the scientific and technological challenges of the 21st century as part of the 150th Annual AAAS Meeting in Philadelphia.The panel, co-chaired by Dr. Gibbons and Dr. David Hamburg, President Emeritus of the Carnegie Corporation of New York and Member of the President's Committee of Advisors for Science and Technology, consisted of twenty prominent scientists and technological leaders of academia, industry, and government. The conversation focused on the need for greater racial diversity in the science and technology community, ways to improve minority recruitment programs in science and engineering, and how to deal with the challenges to recruitment programs in science and engineering that target minorities.  The following points emerged from the panel discussion:

  • First, we still have serious barriers confronting minority participation in science and technology which must be addressed.According to National Science Board member, Dr. Richard Tapia, "under-representation in science and technology is not just a health of science issue, it's ahealth of the nation issue."
  • Second, the rapidly changing demographics of America in the 21st century requires increased public-private partnerships in science and technology that foster full participation by underrepresented groups.
  • Third, the challenge is for public policy to highlight the public-private best practices out there and implement them on the national scale.
  • Fourth, we must live up to the promise of life-long development of all Americans from childhood to adulthood by encouraging higher-order learning through science, engineering, and mathematics.

Regarding targeted minority recruitment in science and engineering, the following two pressing issues emerged during the conversations that require research:

  • Race and the Role of Standardized Tests -we must determine the effectiveness of standardized tests as predictors of academic success for people of color;
  • Bi-lingual Education - we must determine the effectiveness of  bi-lingual education in preparing underrepresented minority students for participation in science and technology.

A final report entitled, Meeting America's Needs for the Scientific and Technological Challenges of the Twenty-First Century, summarizing the roundtable dialogue has entered the clearance process for publication.

NSTC Committee on Science IWG. On September10, 1998, the President directed the NSTC to develop recommendations within 180 days on how to achieve greater diversity throughout our scientific and technical work force.  The NSTC recommendations will detail ways for the Federal Government to bolster mentoring in science and technology fields and to work with the private sector and academia to strengthen mentoring in higher education.  Therefore, OSTP, along with the NSTC Committee on Science, established a new IWG that will provide recommendations on how to increase the participation of minorities, women, and persons with disabilities in the S&T workforce. Specifically, this IWG is concerned with defining and recommending the Federal role in developing the U.S. S&T workforce of the future. The S&T workforce is assumed to extend from the technician (typically less than 4-year college preparation) to the Ph.D. level.  While the IWG is focusing on programs and policies affecting persons above high school to keep the scope of the study within bounds, it is recognized that relevant educational pipeline issues are also critical to developing the S&T workforce of the future.

The U.S. S, E &T Workforce of the Future: National Strategy, National Portfolio, National Resource Base.  On July29-30, 1998, under the auspices of the NSTC Committee on Science, numerous Federal agencies sponsored a workshop to explore the status of and options for diversifying our future S, E & T workforce.  Over one hundred participants and speakers attended the workshop. The workshop was designed to provide input into the work of the IWG on the Future of the S&T workforce.

HBCUs.  Federal investments in minority institutions are not easy to extract from agency budgets because most are not line items. Few programs are aimed at building institutional capability in research. Instead, most provide support of minority students or faculty.OSTP has assembled a broad-brush inventory of agency dollars awarded to institutions of higher education and to HBCUs as a catagory. We have also tried to identify programs within agencies that seek to build institutional capability.

Race Research.  OSTP initiated contact with ASA to develop an assessment of research associated with race. The Race Initiative Office followed up on this and has provided financial support for this activity directly to ASA.

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