Entries Filed in 'Education'
On March 3rd, Portland’s celebration of Read Across America Day will become the first community in Northern New England to join the nationwide Campaign for Grade-Level Reading.
The Campaign is a nationwide network of more than 140 communities working to improve reading proficiency for all children by the end of third grade, a crucial benchmark for future academic success. As a network member,Portland will receive access to experts and policymakers, strategic and technical assistance, and opportunities to share and learn from similar communities.
“Portland is now at the vanguard in working to ensure that all of our children reach this critical threshold,” said Portland Mayor Michael F. Brennan.
Portland’s public elementary schools are celebrating Read Across America Day, which coincides with Dr. Seuss’ birthday, by inviting guest readers to visit classes and planning other special activities. Portland’s police chief, fire chief, several television reporters and anchors and other local celebrities will read at Hall Elementary School.
“We know how important it is for all of our children to read at grade level by third grade,” said Portland Superintendent Emmanuel Caulk. “That is why our district made it a priority goal to increase by 20 percent the number of students reaching that goal by 2017.”
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Congresswoman Chellie Pingree recently introduced legislation to assist families who are dealing with the loss or sudden disability of a loved one. The Student Loan Forgiveness Tax Repayment Act would make it less burdensome for these families to pay income taxes incurred when federal student loans are forgiven after death or disability.
Under the Higher Education Act, individuals and families can apply to have federal students loans forgiven if the recipient dies or becomes disabled to a high degree. However, the forgiven debt is taxed as income—for many families, this can add tens of thousands of dollars in taxes. Not only are the taxes due the year the debt is forgiven, but the additional income can often bump families into a higher tax bracket, meaning that it’s taxed at a higher rate.
“I’ve heard from several families who have found themselves in this situation, and it’s absolutely tragic. You’re dealing with the loss of a child or your spouse becomes disabled, then all of a sudden a tax bill for $30,000 pours salt on the wound. And if you can’t come up with that sum almost immediately, you incur interest and penalties,” said Pingree. “It’s just not right. Having these student loans forgiven should offer some relief to these families, not put them in a financial hole for years to come. This bill would help them spread out that tax bill over several years to make it easier for them to pay and allow them to cope with what’s already a challenging situation.”
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Tags: Chellie Pingree·Student loan tax forgiveness
The Maine House if Representatives voted 92-45 to override Governor LePage’s veto of a measure sponsored by Senate President Justin Alfond to help feed hungry students by increasing participation in the federal Summer Food Services Program.
“This is a victory for Maine students. The Legislature stood together in helping potentially thousands of hungry students all across Maine during the summer time,” said President Alfond. “Our students are Maine’s future and it’s critical we give every student the opportunity to thrive all year around.”
The House vote comes two days after the Senate vote of 25 to 10 to override LePage’s veto.
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Tags: LePage's veto overridden
The Maine State Capitol. Photo by Ramona du Houx
A measure to provide students and their families with information that will help them make higher education decisions won broad support from education and business leaders during a public hearing Monday. At a time when higher education costs are up while the job market remains down, it’s more important than ever that students and families are able to make informed decisions about college.
“Maine students are asking important questions,” said House Majority Leader Seth Berry, the bill’s sponsor. “‘If I graduate on time, what are the chances I will find a job in my chosen field in Maine? If I do, will I earn enough per month to live on and pay off my student debt?’ With this bill, we will for the first time provide the answers they need and deserve.”
The “Know Before You Go” bill would provide consumer-friendly information on the Internet about the actual employment rates of each program’s graduates, their average incomes, monthly debt payments and other outcomes data by major and institution.
“It will allow Maine students and their families to make informed decisions about their educational investment,” said Megan Phelps, a student at Bowdoin College, in her testimony. “It is information that I wish I’d had access to and will be invaluable to future Maine leaders.”
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Tags: Protecting students from extreme college costs
The USDA Rural Development announcement that grants has been awarded to Maine for distance learning and telemedicine initiatives. The projects funded are designed to expand educational opportunities for Maine students and provide necessary equipment to monitor patients in rural areas.
“USDA has a strong track record of helping rural communities build the infrastructure it needs to get ahead, and I’m pleased this funding has been improved. The opportunities provided through these investments will greatly benefit Maine’s students as well as provide necessary medical services to some of our most rural populations,” said Congressman Mike Michaud.
DThe projects provided by USDA Rural Development:
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Tags: Obama's education inititive helps Maine
The Legislature’s Health and Human Services Committee supported two bills Thursday that would help young Mainers have opportunities for success. A majority of the committee voted in favor of legislation to restore Head Start funding and another bill to increase access to quality child care.
“Head Start serves Maine’s most at-risk children,” said Rep. Aaron Frey. “We know it improves school readiness, educational achievement and health. We need to continue these investments in our future.”
Frey sponsored a bill to restore funding for Head Start and child care vouchers for low-income families if finally passed by the full Legislature. Frey’s bill would build on the funding that was restored by the Legislature for fiscal year 2014. It would provide $2 million for Head Start, set up a formula for distribution of the funds and draw down $3 million in federal CCDF funds.
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Tags: Early childhood education in Maine
The House of Representatives passed the “GI Bill Tuition Fairness Act” (H.R. 357), a bipartisan bill that would require schools eligible for GI Bill education benefits to give all veterans in-state tuition rates even if they are not residents of the states where the schools are located. H.R. 357 was introduced last year by House Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Rep. Jeff Miller (R-FL) and Ranking Member Rep. Mike Michaud (D-ME).
“Given the nature of military service, veterans often have a difficult time establishing residency for purposes of obtaining in-state tuition rates,” said Michaud. “This bipartisan bill finally helps ensure that the benefits of the GI Bill go further for our veterans attending public colleges and universities.”
The bill’s requirements go into effect on August 1, 2015.
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Tags: Veterans issues
Senate President Justin Alfond’s measure to make college more affordable and increase degree attainment for Maine students, received strong support during a public hearing in front of the Legislature’s Education Committee.
“Every year the cost of college goes up and its putting a financial burden on students and their families,” said Sen. Alfond. “This trend of rising college costs is preventing many Maine students from completing their college degree. When students who are starting out are saddled with more debt than they can expect to make in a year, the pathway for affording college is less clear.”
The measure directs the Education and Cultural Affairs Committee to explore several options and determine the best option for Maine students that will both decrease the cost of higher education and the way college is paid for, including options that guarantee tuition, increases funding for the State of Maine Grant Program, and Oregon’s “Pay It Forward” model.
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Tags: College in Maine
The U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Maritime Administration announcement today that Maine Maritime Academy will receive $1 million from a government program that recycles obsolete vessels.
“I’m pleased this funding is being made available to the Maine Maritime Academy. The Academy produces some of the best mariners in the world, and it is conducting cutting-edge research that will benefit Maine’s economy as a whole. The funding announced today will help Maine Maritime Academy further its critical mission,” said Congressman Mike Michaud.
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The John T. Gorman Foundation and Harold Alfond Foundation have joined together with the Finance Authority of Maine to help CA$H Maine.
“Thanks to the generous support of these visionary foundations, we will increase the number of families that benefit from CA$H Maine’s free tax preparation services, claim the Earned Income Tax Credit, and get connected to resources that help them save toward higher education,” said Suzanne McCormick, President and CEO of the United Way of Greater Portland.
CA$H Maine, a collaboration of statewide coalitions made up of 50 non- and for-profit partners, will once again offer free tax preparation by IRS-certified volunteer tax preparers at sites across Maine and connect people to financial education resources, including information about funding higher education for children and their families.
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Tags: Tax help for low income people in Maine