As Education and Workforce Committee Chairman Howard "Buck" McKeon (R-CA) passes the torch to incoming Chairman George Miller, a new agenda is being laid out for the upcoming year. Miller's itinerary focuses on strengthening the middle class by improving public education, making college more affordable, and keeping America's workforce competitive.
In a recent article by Grace Rauh entitled "Miller Outlines Education, Labor Plans," Miller explained his motivation: "The middle class has lost ground in the past five years as incomes have fallen in the face of rising healthcare, college tuition, and gas costs."
The fact is nearly 50 million Americans are without healthcare--a startling and record-high number. In keeping with his focus on America's children, families, and workers, Miller wants to increase the national minimum wage when Congress reconvenes in January. The new chairman intends to take an in-depth look at reauthorizing the No Child Left Behind Act. The act calls for all students to read and do math at their appropriate grade levels by 2014. According to his early predictions, funds will be allocated to support the legislation. Two key issues concerning the law include determining whether schools will be rewarded for their efforts even if their results fall short of federal goals and determining how to accommodate students with learning disabilities.
Also, Miller will work to raise awareness of higher education's skyrocketing costs and attempt to form a call to action in order to solve the escalating problem. As it stands, college tuition is steadily rising, household incomes are falling or remaining stagnant, and federal student loans aren't filling in the gaps.
"Middle-class Americans are increasingly squeezed between declining paychecks and rising bills for basic items like housing, healthcare, college tuition,
and energy," said Miller during a Washington, DC, news conference. "Starting in January, the mission of our committee will be simple: strengthening America's middle class," he continued.
Referring to "college tuition" as an item in a series of basic needs and likening it to necessities such as housing and healthcare reveal Miller's serious stance regarding education reform. Miller has voiced his concerns about potential students forfeiting their plans to go to college because of tuition hikes. He has also noted the concern that having fewer college graduates will mean having fewer new businesses and jobs.
Early speculation suggests Miller will make an aggressive attempt to reduce borrower interest rates. The estimate is that he'll try to cut them in half. His focus on interest rates stems from the epidemic of student debt. Miller's platform is likely to propose an expansion of the economic hardship deferment program, according to the Project on Student Debt. These huge actions toward reform beg the question of how Miller intends to finance the changes they will demand. One possible answer is that he'll reintroduce the Student Aid Reward Act, a bill that would provide incentives to schools to leave the FFEL program in favor of the Direct Loan program.
According to Rauh, McKeon commended Miller for certain objectives of his plans and said there will definitely be opportunities for bipartisan cooperation. However, the abdicating chairman anticipates debates regarding some of Miller's ambitions.
Article Title : Miller to Assist Middle-Class
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