Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Got this in my inbox... any thoughts?


*Paid for by Obama for America

Background: America's Young Workers Need Opportunity to be Restored

For too many young workers today, the American Dream seems further and further out of reach.

Despite the need for education to be successful in a "knowledge economy," our high school and college graduation rates are not growing enough. About one-fourth of our high school students don't obtain a real diploma, while less than a third eventually get a bachelor's degree. Those who grow up in affluent families are likely to attend college, while those in middle and lower-income families are much less likely to attend. In fact, the gaps in college attendance between families with more and less resources are growing larger with time. And those who do attend college, especially from less-affluent families, are taking longer to complete their degrees than ever before.[1]

These trends are driven at least partly by the dramatic growth in the costs of college tuition both at public and private universities. More and more students must juggle taking classes with working part-time or even fulltime. Financial aid is now driven less by need than in the past and the financing of Pell grants for low-income students has failed to keep up with inflation in tuition costs.

For those who never attend college, economic opportunities are diminishing. Employment rates for men with less than a college education have fallen over time. When they work, their jobs are less secure. And their earnings have fallen behind those of young workers with college degrees. At the same time, federal support for job training of these workers has fallen dramatically over time.[2] And with today's economic instability, young workers are likely to be the first to become unemployed and the last to be rehired.

These issues are as important in Indiana as anywhere in the country. Each year about 59,000 students here graduate from high school, and 45,000 try to obtain postsecondary education. They struggle each day with rising tuition costs and the challenges of getting more schooling. In the Indiana job market, over 400,000 workers aged 16 - 24 and 1.1 million aged 16 - 34 face a shrinking number of jobs, especially at good wages.

Barack Obama wants to restore meaningful opportunities to young workers and to make the American Dream achievable once again.


Address the Dropout Crisis: Obama will address the dropout crisis by signing into law his legislation to provide funding to school districts to invest in intervention strategies in middle school - strategies such as personal academic plans, teaching teams, parent involvement, mentoring, intensive reading and math instruction, and extended learning time.

Create the American Opportunity Tax Credit: Obama will make college affordable for all Americans by creating a new American Opportunity Tax Credit. This fully refundable credit will ensure that the first $4,000 of college education is completely free for most Americans, and will cover two-thirds the cost of tuition at the average public college or university and make community college tuition completely free for most students. Recipients of this credit will be required to conduct 100 hours of public service a year, either during the school year or over the summer months. Obama will also ensure that the tax credit is available to families at the time of enrollment by using prior year's tax data to deliver the credit when tuition is due.

Simplify the Application Process for Financial Aid: Obama will streamline the financial aid process by eliminating the current federal financial aid application and enabling families to apply simply by checking a box on their tax form, authorizing their tax information to be used, and eliminating the need for a separate application.

Support College Outreach Programs: Obama supports outreach programs like GEAR UP, TRIO and Upward Bound to encourage more young people from low-income families to consider and prepare for college.

Increase Investments in Job Training: Obama will increase funding for federal workforce training programs. He will expand and fully fund apprenticeship programs to help worker get credentials and skills in crafts with middle-class incomes and benefits.

Raise the Minimum Wage: Barack Obama will raise the minimum wage to $9.50 an hour by 2011, index it to inflation and increase the Earned Income Tax Credit to make sure that full-time workers earn a living wage that allows them to raise their families and pay for basic needs. This will help raise the earnings of young workers.

Expand the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and Encourage Paid Leave: For young people who must balance work, schooling and parenting, Barack Obama will seek to expand the availability of parental leave. The FMLA now covers only certain employees of employers with 50 or more employees; he will expand the FMLA to cover businesses with 25 or more employees. Obama will also expand the FMLA to cover more purposes as well, including allowing workers to take leave for elder care needs; allowing parents up to 24 hours of leave each year to participate in their children's academic activities at school; allowing leave to be taken for purposes of caring for individuals who reside in their home for 6 months or more; and expanding FMLA to cover leave for employees to address domestic violence and sexual assault. And, as president, Barack Obama will initiate a 50 state strategy to encourage all of the states to ado pt paid-leave systems. Obama will provide a $1.5 billion fund to assist states with start-up costs and to help states offset the costs for employees and employers.

[1] James Heckman and Paul LaFontaine, "The American High School Graduate Rate; Trends and Levels," University of Chicago, 2007; and Maria Fitzpatrick and Sarah Turner, "Blurring the Boundary: Changes in College Participation and the Transition to Adulthood," in S. Danziger and C. Rouse eds. The Price of Independence: The Economics of Early Adulthood. New York: Russell Sage Foundation.

[2] Harry Holzer and Paul Offner, "Trends in the Employment Outcomes of Young Men," Institute for Research on Poverty Discussion Paper, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2003.

1 comment:

Dana Hunter said...

Why isn't he the nominee yet?

Years ago, a friend from New Zealand treated me to two hours of diatribe against the American educational system. He was outraged that our college educations aren't paid for. I tend to concur: it's time we were able to afford college.