[AAACE-NLA] Urgent: Your action needed now
jcarter at proliteracy.org
Mon Jan 23 13:46:07 EST 2012
David, thank you for forwarding this and kudos to NCL for issuing it.
For those interested, the CBPP summary of the House proposal quoted in the action alert below is based on a bill that the House passed in December (H.R. 3630).
In my opinion, the provision they are referring to (SEC. 2122) in that bill is even worse than described:
1. For example, to meet the education requirements in this bill, you have to be enrolled in a class that is "leading to satisfaction" towards a diploma or a GED. Obviously, some people who get laid off from their jobs not only lack a high school credential or GED, but also may lack the basic literacy skills required to succeed in a class specifically designed to prepare students for the GED or equivalent credential. In other words, I think you could be enrolled in adult education and fail to meet the requirement of this provision. Even for states that want to define this as broadly as possible, it seems to me it would be kind of a nightmare to sort out who qualifies and who doesn't. (Would one-on-one tutoring count? Self-studiers?)
2. You also have to demonstrate that you are making "satisfactory progress" in those classes, but the bill does not make it clear what the definition of "satisfactory progress" is or how an individual would prove that they are making it. For example, let’s say this proposal became law next week, and you get yourself into a GED program with an open seat right away. But after participating for just a few weeks, how would you demonstrate "satisfactory progress" toward that GED in order to collect UI?
3. Some supporters of the House proposal may respond to the arguments above by pointing to the language in SEC. 2122 that allow a state to waive the education requirement if it is "unduly burdensome," -- but there are no standards guiding this waiver, and it is only an option to waive the requirement -- nothing in the bill would require a state to make a determination of whether such a burden exists, or actually waive the requirement if one is found.
In addition to the above, there is another section in HR 3630 (SEC. 2123) that allows up to 10 states to apply for waivers that would exempt them from several key federal requirements, in order to conduct "demonstration projects" designed either to "expedite the reemployment of individuals" or "improve the effectiveness of a State in carrying out its State law with respect to reemployment." In a new paper issued by CBPP last week, they make a pretty good argument that these waivers would allow states to impose their own education eligibility requirements and restrictions on their own, if they wanted to, even if the HS/GED language in SEC. 2122 is stripped from whatever bill emerges.
Finally, the action alert from NCL suggests that a corresponding investment in additional funding/supports would make this proposal less unjust, and while true, an influx of new adult education money attached to this proposal would just make a fundamentally unjust proposal a little less terrible, IMO. One, because of the poorly thought-out construction of the proposal itself, but more importantly, because it would fundamentally alter the purpose of UI, which is an insurance program to provide income to individuals who have lost their jobs through no fault of their own. As CBPP notes in their report from last week, "[w]orkers eligible for unemployment benefits have effectively paid taxes into the UI system, often for many years or decades. Technically, employers pay the UI tax, but economists agree that employees largely bear the burden of the tax in the form of lower wages than they otherwise would receive." (my emphasis) Contributions are made by employers regardless of the education level of their workers, and IMO, to deny non-HS credentialed workers the benefits that they have been effectively paying for is cheating them, and thus completely unjustifiable.
That is my take. Curious about what others think. Thanks to those of you who have responded to the action alert.
On Jan 18, 2012, at 9:31 AM, David Rosen wrote:
> Please read this important Advocacy Blog Action Alert below from the National Coalition for Literacy. "Tell Congress: Do Not Include HS Diploma GED Requirement in Unemployment Insurance Extension". The deadline for acting is January 24th. Please contact your Members of Congress now.
> David J. Rosen
> Adult Literacy Advocate
> djrosen123 at gmail.com
> Congress will soon continue its debate on the extension of Unemployment Insurance (UI) benefits—but it may include a provision that’s alarming Americans nationwide.
> House Republicans are expected to once again push for a condition that would “…deny UI benefits to any worker who lacks a high school diploma or GED and is not enrolled in classes to get one or the other—regardless of how long the person worked or whether he or she has access to adult education,” according to a recent report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP). House Republicans plan to push their UI extension agenda in time for the President’s State of the Union address, according to CQ’s Roll Call.
> Adult educators understand the necessity of an education—it helps adults get and keep jobs with family sustaining wages and lead richer, fuller lives. But what is not acceptable is to demand that those who have effectively contributed to the system for years through the payment of UI taxes —and who then were laid off due to no fault of their own—be denied UI on the basis of their education level. It is at best, mean-spirited and at worst, unjust.
> Unlike other policies that open doors to adult education in order to boost education levels and help individuals attain self-sufficiency, this provision also offers no funding to assist unemployed workers to obtain a GED credential. As such, this requirement is an unfunded mandate on an already overburdened system.
> If this proposed provision were in the best interests of adults and families, additional funding and much needed supports would be put into place simultaneously focused on opening the doors to more adult education programs. As it stands, this UI provision would be the wrong policy needed at a time when we really should be trying to do all that we can to help adults get back to work. Its intent is punitive and goes against meaningful adult education reform. We need your help to turn this around!
> Contact Your Members of Congress:
> Deadline: Tuesday, January 24, 2012
> By Phone or Email
> • Call or write your U.S. Representative and Senators today. (Take action through NCL's Facebook page for greater impact.)
> • Ask them to Say No to requiring a HS diploma or GED in any unemployment insurance extension for 2012.
> • Use 1-2 of the suggested talking points and speak from your experience. Share local waiting list data, if applicable.
> Post on Your U.S. Representative’s and Senators’ Facebook Walls
> Via Facebook:
> • Go to your House Member's Facebook page and click the ‘Like’ button at the top.
> • Then post this message to his or her wall: "Please say no to any UI extension plan that includes a HS diploma or GED requirement in order to maintain unemployment insurance benefits.”
> Tweet to Your Members of Congress
> Via Twitter:
> • Search to see if your U.S. Representative and Senators are on Twitter. Follow them.
> • Then send a tweet like this, using the #FairUI hashtag:
> (@insert your House Member's or Senator’s Twitter handle) Please say no to any UI extension plan that includes a HS diploma or #GED requirement in order to maintain benefits. #FairUI
> For example:
> @repsandylevin Please say no to any UI extension plan that includes a HS diploma or #GED requirement in order to maintain benefits. #FairUI
> Blog About It!
> Cross post this blog posting on your blog, with a cross link back to the National Coalition for Literacy as the source. Or adapt it to fit your circumstance. Add your program or community data about adult education and make it your own.
> Stay Involved
> Learn more about social media strategies and tips. Visit our Connect Page for more information.
> Sign up to receive future email alerts or text messages from the National Coalition for Literacy about actions needed for adult education and family literacy.
> Teach Congress about the needs of undereducated workers and of the adult education and literacy system. Call Congress today! And pass this email on to those who you think may be interested.
> AAACE-NLA mailing list: AAACE-NLA at lists.literacytent.org
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Washington D.C.'s Literacy Coalition
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