The end of the year always brings best and worst lists and Top 10 lists.
Here is one from the U.S. House Commitee on Education and Labor. I recognize the clear propaganda role of this list, but I thought you might like to look at the education items on it.
REBUILDING AMERICA’S ECONOMY AND MIDDLE CLASS
A Top 10 List for Children, Students, Workers and Families
The House Education and Labor Committee has been at the center of this effort by working to address the direct concerns of the working Americans feeling the deep pain of this crisis and help rebuild our nation’s middle class. While much more needs to be done, below is an overview of the top ten areas the Committee made progress on in 2009 to improve the lives of children, students, workers and families.
1. CREATING JOBS. The Committee helped craft key provisions in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (enacted in February) and the Jobs for Main Street Act (passed House in December) that will help save and create education jobs.
By the numbers: The Congressional Budget Office estimates that ARRA has already helped save or create as many as 1.6 million jobs. Sources estimate 325,000 of the jobs saved were in public education.
2. PROVIDING ACCESS TO QUALITY, AFFORDABLE HEALTH INSURANCE. As one of the three House Committees with jurisdiction over health policy, the Committee helped craft and pass the House health insurance reform legislation: the Affordable Health Care for America Act (passed House in October).
By the numbers: the House health reform bill would expand access to quality, affordable health insurance for 96 percent of Americans – or 36 million people.
3. MAKING COLLEGE AFFORDABLE. The Committee led efforts to provide immediate relief to families squeezed by rising tuition costs in a difficult economy (as part of ARRA), and to make historic investments in college aid at no cost to taxpayers by eliminating student loan middlemen.
By the numbers: The Recovery Act provided an additional $500 boost in the Pell Grant scholarship for the 2010 school year, benefitting up to 7 million students. The Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act (passed House in September) would invest more than $50 billion in student aid over the next 10 years.
4. EXTENDING ACCESS TO AFFORDABLE HEALTH CARE FOR THE UNEMPLOYED. The Recovery Act provided workers who have lost their job a 65 percent subsidy toward their COBRA premium for up to 9 months. The House voted to extend this premium assistance for another two months as part of the Department of Defense Appropriation bill passed in December.
By the numbers: The ARRA COBRA subsidy helped about seven million people hold on to health care coverage for themselves or their families while they looked for work.
5. LAUNCHING A NEW ERA OF PUBLIC SERVICE. The Committee passed and Congress enacted the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act (signed in April), a law that triples the current number of volunteers serving in America who can help in our country’s recovery by meeting critical local and national needs in education, health care, energy and care for our veterans.
By the numbers: The Serve America Act also increases the full-time education award service members receive in exchange for their contributions to $5,350 for 2010.
6. PREPARING WORKERS FOR THE JOBS OF THE FUTURE. The House-passed Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act would invest an unprecedented $10 billion in our nation’s community colleges to prepare students and workers for jobs in high-growth industries.
By the numbers: The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that 71 percent of the jobs expected to grow in the next seven years will require a postsecondary credential. Community colleges enroll more than 46 percent of U.S. students. Preliminary data shows community college enrollment increased 10 percent in 2009.
7. PROTECTING WORKERS FROM WAGE DISCRIMINATION. The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, developed by the Committee, was the first major piece of legislation President Obama signed in January. The law overturned a Supreme Court ruling that made it harder for Americans to pursue employer discrimination claims. In January, the House also passed the Paycheck Fairness Act, to end the discriminatory practice of paying men and women unequally for the same job.
By the numbers: According to the U.S. Census Bureau, women still only make 78 cents for every dollar earned by a man. The Institute of Women’s Policy Research concluded that this wage disparity will cost a woman anywhere from $400,000 to $2 million over her lifetime in lost wages.
8. STRENGTHENING WORKERS’ RETIREMENT SAVINGS. In June, the Committee passed the 401(k) Fair Disclosure and Retirement Security Act, which would ensure that Americans have clear and complete information about hidden fees that could be eating deeply into their retirement savings.
By the numbers: Roughly 50 million American workers now have 401(k) style retirement plans, but studies show the majority of these workers don’t know how much they are paying in fees. Even just a 1-percentage-point in excessive fees can reduce a worker’s 401(k) account balance by as much as 20 percent or more over a career.
9. IMPROVING EARLY EDUCATION. The Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act would also invest an unprecedented $8 billion to help more children reach kindergarten ready to succeed by improving the quality of early education for children from birth through age five, a strategy economists believe is critical to building a skilled workforce and strengthening our global competitiveness.
By the numbers: Today, almost 12 million children under 5 regularly spend time in child care. By age 4, children from low-income families are already 18 months behind their more advantaged peers. Studies show that every $1 dollar invested in early education can yield anywhere from $1.25 to $17 in returns.
10. RESTORING OUR NATION’S FISCAL HEALTH. The Committee is committed to securing a strong fiscal future for our children by meeting pay-as-you-go budgeting principles. For example, the Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act is entirely paid for by savings generated through eliminating taxpayer subsidies to lenders and banks in the student loan programs. The Affordable Health Care for America Act is paid for through a combination of savings generated by making Medicare and Medicaid more efficient and revenue generated by placing a surcharge on the wealthiest 0.3 percent of Americans.
By the numbers: The Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act would direct $10 billion to the U.S. Treasury to help pay down the deficit. According to the Congressional Budget Office, the Affordable Health Care for America Act would reduce the deficit by over $100 billion in the first 10 years and by as much as $650 billion in the second 10 years.