Category Archives: college

Recovery for America Pt. 2 – Education Reform

The Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) was last reauthorized in 2002 as No Child Left Behind (NCLB). Although the NCLB has sparked many controversies due to its tests and the time spent on test preparation vs. time spent on education in other necessary areas of learning, it did shed light on the achievement and opportunity gap in our nation’s schools.

Students should be able to face the future when leaving school and they should have the best opportunity during their early education through their High School years. It should not depend on where they live, their family income or their circumstances.

In America, education is an equal opportunity. It should be.

The question for a High School student should not be, “Can you read?” That should be an expectation in elementary school and middle school. To be competitive in the world, the U.S. needs to ask more of its students which means the educational system needs to be more innovative, diverse and competitive itself, always moving forward.

Can U.S. students form an opinion about something they just read and justify their opinion? Can they create solutions when faced with problems? Are they prepared for college? Do they know what is going on in the world around them? Students of today are leaders of tomorrow, business owners, doctors, scientist, inventors, parents, and teachers. It is up to today’s leaders, teachers and society to help prepare them for their future.

On February 17, 2009 President Obama signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

The ARRA provides $4.35 billion for the Race to the Top Fund, a competitive grant program designed to encourage and reward states that are creating the conditions for education, innovation and reform. Click the above link to read more about how this Race to the Top fund is expected to change education.

Although some programs come in and seem to work while others don’t and some bills can easily get passed through Washington while others get held up or turned down, the fact is not everything goes as planned or as promised.

During the 2008 campaign, Obama reached many college students. One of the goals he proposed was to raise the $1800.00 tax credit for college students to $4000.00. However, through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, the existing law currently has the tax credit set at $2500.00 for college students.

As of July 1, 2010 all new federal student loans will be originated through the Direct Loan program, instead of through the federally-guaranteed student loan program. The Direct Loan program is a more reliable lender for students and more cost-effective for taxpayers. This bill will increase the maximum annual Pell Grant, expand the Perkins Loan Program, simplify the application process for federal student aid and boost support for community colleges.

The United States has continued to lose ground in education worldwide over the last 20 years. For the U.S. to gain this ground back, students must be able to do more than just basic studies. They need to be able to use those skills and apply them to real life situations, show the ability to think, reason and problem solve. The educational system needs to provide them the atmosphere to grow and learn.

Students need the ability for further education and the desire to pursue higher goals. Family and community involvement, with the help of schools, will better promote an environment in which a student is able to seek support and focus on their studies.

By being involved in local schools, school districts and knowing what is going on with upcoming pieces of legislation, a person can vote on important matters that will be in effect for many years to come. Education is the key to the future.

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” Nelson Mandela

Help for America Pt. 3 – The "Working Poor"

Having a job in today’s economy and current job crisis is an enormous step toward solving a person’s financial hardships, right?

For many Americans, going to work every day, bringing home a paycheck and doing everything they can to support their family is far from enough. They find themselves in the category, the “working poor”.

Many working families live below the poverty level. As inflation has gone up, the cost of gas, heating, mortgage or rent, electric and overall the cost of living, their rate of pay has not increased near the rate of inflation.

To leave one job to find another is just not possible and even finding a second job is not always an option or a possibility.

Many families are struggling to pay only the basic utilities, as well as rent or mortgage and taking away from items like clothing, medicine and even groceries. This is living in America as the working poor. More often, this is becoming a reality for more people in the richest country in the world.

In 2008 there were 39.8 million Americans who lived below the poverty level according to the U.S. Census Bureau. New data will come in from the new Census Data collected this year.

The 2010 Poverty Guidelines from the CMS.gov state that in order to fall below the poverty level a family of four would need to make below $1,837.50 per month or less to be considered fully at poverty level. For more or less family members, the income is adjusted and there are different levels of poverty. 39,800,000 Americans fell into this category in 2008 and since then the economy fell more into a slump. Did these numbers rise?

To look around a community, workplace, school, church or anyplace people are gathered a person may not be able to pick out the “working poor” families. They are everyday Americans working hard to support their families, keep their utilities from getting turned off, their children happy and safe and they have goals and dreams like anyone else. They watch the news and hear how the economy is changing both in good ways or bad ways and like everybody else, they want so badly for things to turn around and improve.

Many of these families were middle class families not too long ago. Due to the financial crisis, they have now found themselves living in a situation they had never planned on living. What they were planning for is now a distant memory.

America is a country that was established on opportunity and freedom. Working Americans want the opportunity to move ahead and live, providing for themselves and their children and plan for their future.
It is always said to “set aside for a rainy day”. The opportunity needs to be there to not only live each day and take care of a person’s family and responsibilities that day but also to be able to plan ahead for what may come up or just to be able to have a “nest egg” set aside, plan for a child’s college fund or take care of things to insure prevention of larger bills due to neglect (i.e. insurance on vehicles, rentals, dental, appliances, etc.)

For 39.8 million Americans, it has been a “rainy day” for a long time and although many are extremely grateful to have a job to work each day, they want to be able to take care of their families and responsibilities as well. In a great country like America, with so many resources, it doesn’t make sense to have so many families that are working to still be struggling and living below the poverty level.

America has always been a Nation to be able to come back stronger and show its resilience through tough times. But, for this to work, things have to work as a whole and not as a part. Just like a chain is only as strong as its weakest link, America has to stand strong together and for each other through each community, state and Nationwide.

Part Four of this series will be pretty shocking to read. Stay tuned.