Entries Filed in 'Education'

Maine’s first-in-nation bill to help foster children finish college, heads to governor’s desk

April 18th, 2014 · No Comments · Capitol news, Community Maine, Education

 Maine is on its way to becoming the first state in the nation to support foster children with higher education through the age of 26.

The Legislature on Thursday passed LD 1683, Resolve, To Improve Degree and Career Attainment for Former Foster Children, as the Senate gave the measure its final approval. It now goes to Gov. Paul LePage for his signature.

Sponsored by House Majority Leader Seth Berry , the bill would allow former foster children to receive guidance and financial help with higher education expenses averaging $5,000 a year until their 27th birthdays. At present, Maine provides no support or guidance beyond age 20. The bill leverages one private foundation dollar for every two public dollars and would support up to 40 young Mainers at a given time.

“Morally and economically, it makes sense to help these young Mainers complete their education,” Berry said. “Even with the best of childhoods, how many of us were fully independent at age 20? How many of us would cut off our own kids once they turn 20?”

Youth in care often have multiple foster care placements that contribute to gaps in their educations. It is not unusual for youth in care to start college after age 18, and only 2 percent to on to receive a four-year degree.

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Pre-kindergarten bill to expand early childhood education makes it through Maine House

April 15th, 2014 · No Comments · Capitol news, Creative Economy, Education

LD 1530, An Act To Establish a Process for the Implementation of Universal Voluntary Prekindergarten Education, was enacted unanimously “under the hammer” in the Maine House of Representatives’ Tuesday. Last week, it won initial approval with a veto-proof vote of 102-45.

“Smart investment in the earliest years of childhood is one of the best things we can do for young Mainers to boost their chances of success,” said House Majority Leader Seth Berry, a bill co-sponsor who was an award-winning public school teacher. “Educators and leaders in business and law enforcement recognize these efforts as important to children and the state as a whole.”

The measure makes casino revenues available as start-up funding to school districts that choose to offer voluntary pre-K programs. The bill also establishes a stakeholder group to develop quality standards, best practices and common assessments.

There are 172 school districts in Maine with elementary schools, but only 60 percent of them offer some kind of pre-K. Under the measure, the implementation of pre-K programs would be voluntary for school districts and participation would be voluntary for families.

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Maine Arts Education Day at the Capitol a success

April 7th, 2014 · No Comments · Arts & Entertainment, Capitol news, Community Maine, Education, Issue 40, Uncategorized

Student representatives of the National Art Honor Society at Mount Desert Island High School

Student representatives of the National Art Honor Society at Mount Desert Island High School

Arts Education Day, held at the state capital on April 2, 2014 by the Maine Alliance for Arts and Education (MAAE), was well attended success for arts education.

The event was organized by MAAE’s Executive Director, Peter Alexander, to show appreciation for art educators and to bring attention to the importance of supporting the arts in Maine school systems.

Representative Mary Nelson announced the Joint Resolution commemorating Arts Education Day and honored awardees.

“This morning we declared that Wednesday, April 2nd is Arts Education Day for the state of Maine and we are here to honor several arts educators,” said Nelson. “Arts educators work everyday to deal with our students to help them use all sides of their brain.”

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First Lady to host 3rd recipe challenge for kids with White House dinner

March 27th, 2014 · No Comments · Education, Healthy Lifestyles, News from Washington

 

First Lady Michelle Obama, for the third time, is teaming up with Epicurious, the U.S. Department of Education, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture to host a nationwide recipe challenge to promote cooking and healthy eating among America’s youth.

 “The Kids’ ‘State Dinner’ is one of my favorite events to host at the White House, and I am thrilled to announce the third annual Healthy Lunchtime Challenge.  This event gives us the opportunity to showcase healthy creations from talented kids from across our country,” said the First Lady.  “I’m looking forward to seeing—and tasting—this year’s selections.  So young chefs, get creative and get cooking!”

Teaching kids to cook is a great way to ensure our children learn healthy habits early in life.  Research shows that children who help with cooking and meal preparation are more likely to consume fruits and vegetables, and they are more aware of the importance of making healthier food choices.  The third annual Healthy Lunchtime Challenge & Kids’ “State Dinner” encourages kids across the country to come up with healthy, original creations.

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Maine’s ocean acidification bill wins initial House support

March 24th, 2014 · No Comments · Capitol news, Economy, Education, Environment

A proposal to address how changing ocean chemistry can damage Maine’s coast, shellfish industry and jobs won initial support by unanimous consent in the House Monday.

L.D. 1602, a measure sponsored by Rep. Mick Devin, would establish a commission to study the effects of ocean acidification and its potential effects on commercial shellfish harvested along the Maine coast.

“Our entire state depends on the well-being of our coastal habitats,” said Devin, a marine biologist. “If we don’t address the effects of changing ocean chemistry, thousands of jobs and the entire coastal economy could be at risk.”

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Maine robotics announces summer opportunity for kids

March 13th, 2014 · No Comments · Business & Innovation, Education, Science

Maine Robotics is now offering a new summer week-long program called BUILD YOUR OWN COMPUTER CAMP and will be offered on the University of Southern Maine campus in Portland and also at the Maine Discovery Museum in Bangor.

This brand new program will work with students, ages 12 to 16, who want to learn about how a computer is put together, configured, and learning about basic troubleshooting tasks. Each student will be using surplus PC components but will be building a very capable Dell Optiplex desktop computer, including LCD screen, and will be taking the entire computer home at the end of the week. Each computer will end up with the Linux operating system or students can bring in their own copy of Windows to install on the computers.

“We live in a time when computers are everywhere, but we don’t always take the time to teach the next generation how to actually build the things” according to Tom Bickford, Maine Robotics Director. “We are happy to have the space this year on the Portland USM campus and at the Maine Discovery Museum, and we are expecting the program to be well received”.

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U.S. Department of Education awards Maine $1,703,898 to turn failing schools around

March 13th, 2014 · No Comments · Education, News from Washington

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan today announced that 10 states will receive more than $95 million to continue efforts to turn around their persistently lowest-achieving schools through awards from the Department’s School Improvement Grants (SIG) program. The following states are receiving awards: Hawaii, Louisiana, Maryland, Maine, Michigan, Montana, North Dakota, Nevada, Oregon and Texas.

“When schools fail, our children and neighborhoods suffer,” Duncan said. “Turning around our lowest-performing schools is hard work but it’s our responsibility, and represents a tremendous opportunity to improve the life chances of children. We owe it to our children, their families and the broader community. These School Improvement Grants are helping some of the lowest-achieving schools provide a better education for students who need it the most.”

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Harold Alfond College Challenge now automatically funded at birth for Maine babies

March 12th, 2014 · No Comments · Education

Gov. John Baldacci celebrates with Elena Sobran during the announcement that eery baby in Maine has the oppotunity to obtain a $500 for college through NextGen- photo by du houx

Gov. John Baldacci celebrates with Elena Sobran during the 2009 announcement that every baby in Maine has the opportunity to obtain a $500 – photo by Ramona du Houx

The Harold Alfond Foundation (HAF) announced that all babies born in Maine and remain residents will now automatically be awarded a $500 Alfond grant for college. Previously, a NextGen College Investing Plan® account needed to be opened prior to the child’s first birthday to receive the grant.

Since 2009, the Harold Alfond College Challenge has funded nearly 23,000 grants, investing almost $11.5 million on behalf of Maine’s children,” said Greg Powell, Chairman of the Harold Alfond Foundation. “But it is not enough. To meet the future workforce needs of Maine’s economy, we need every baby to have the $500 Alfond Grant —not just the opportunity to receive it.”

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Portland celebrities visit Hall Elementary School on March 3 to Celebrate Read Across America Day

March 2nd, 2014 · No Comments · Books, Community Maine, 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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Maine Congresswoman Pingree introduces Student Loan Forgiveness Tax Repayment Act

February 26th, 2014 · No Comments · Education, News from Washington

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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