Adult education overlooked
I write to expand on John Rohman’s Nov. 12 letter about Early Childhood education funding and the education-economy connection, specifically on behalf of another often-overlooked part of that picture: adult education.
Adult education’s impact is clear when we read about adult diplomas and equivalencies. And thanks to the foresight of state government, we are seeing the positive impact of adult education’s state-funded Maine College Transitions Program, reducing the need for developmental-level college classes.
Perhaps less obvious is the impact of our adult literacy work and the benefits that improving adults’ basic skills has on those around them, particularly adults parenting young children. A bottom line is that well-prepared parents can actively support their children’s development, including school-readiness during the critical 0-5 years.
Literate parents are not only essential but may eventually reduce the need for ongoing increased funding addressing educational deficiencies. However, it is critical to note that funding for adult education begins at home. Statewide, 42 percent of funding for programs comes from locally raised taxes. State subsidy reimburses certain expenses, providing 22 percent of adult education funding.
Local support provides direct student services and indirect benefits to the community. A recent study by Franklin County Adult Education and University of Maine at Farmington calculated that $1 invested in GED programming returned $7 through increased earning ability and participation in the economy. So to use Rohman’s words in a different way: Even though our political and fiscal climate makes additional spending unattractive, investing in [adult education] will benefit our communities and our businesses both today and in the future.
The next elections that hit Maine in November 2014 will affect how the rest of the country views Vacationland. Both of Maine’s Congressional Districts, Maine’s governor, and a Senate seat will be on the ballot in 2014. Maine has a unique opportunity to show what type of state it really is.
Two of the four elections will not be a heated race, but the remaining two races — the race in the 2nd Congressional District and the race for governor — will be a real race on Maine’s character and future.
Maine was the most rural state in the nation in 2010, according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau. Geographically, Maine’s 2nd Congressional District is the largest congressional district east of the Mississippi River and is also the second most rural district in the country.
Most Americans outside of Maine would think the state and the state’s 2nd Congressional District would not have a liberal view on social issues. Little does the rest of America know, we are far from ignorant rural country folk; we are a progressive and accepting state. That is why the great state of Maine has an openly gay congressman representing us and running to be our governor. And nobody could care less.
This announcement speaks to what an amazing state the great state of Maine is and will continue to be.
Are the small numbers of health care enrollees surprising? With the virulent ads, negative media, congressional shut down and repeals, no wonder people are leery. Do people shop and compare before they choose? Or pay months before they get the service? I compare early and pay when deadline is close. The deadline is not until Dec. 15 to get coverage starting Jan. 1 and March 31 to avoid a penalty in 2014.
Here is some information I got from googling “fighting Obamacare”:
— Insurance companies and health insurance brokers have spent millions lobbying against the Affordable Care Act as well as getting anti-navigator laws passed in 16 states — to fight loss of profits.
— The 40 U.S. House votes to repeal Obamacare have cost more than $60 million. The shutdown cost $28 billion.
— Each vote against funding to implement Obamacare resulted in loss of time as well as money needed to implement.
— Twenty-seven states did not set up exchanges, which added costs and complexity.
— Right-wing groups — the tea party express, Senate Conservative Fund, FreedomWorks, Club for Growth, National Liberty Foundation, Americans for Prosperity — have raised and spent millions developing and spreading anti-Obamacare messages.
Democrats see Obamacare as a way to help improve people’s lives and add economic value. The website is just starting to work; it did not work well in October, and someone should be held accountable. Obamacare is already helping millions of people. Have patience.
The University of Maine has implemented a “wellness” program. It was an optional program. If you gave some corporation your health information, you would get a cash incentive. I didn’t participate. The second year, if you didn’t do this, your health insurance doubled in cost. They still offered cash for information, so they could say there’s an “incentive” and it isn’t “mandatory.” You self-reported.
Since I couldn’t afford to have my health insurance double, I participated. When you’re asked an inappropriate question, it’s OK to lie. So I submitted numbers that sounded good and didn’t give information about prescriptions.
We now have a new “wellness” vendor and, as of Jan. 1, can no longer self-report. Our doctors are supposed to supply this corporation with our very personal information — height, weight, waist measurement, prescriptions, blood pressure, pulse, blood glucose, alcohol consumption. This program is getting more intrusive every year. Whatever happened to doctor-patient confidentiality?
I won’t participate and will pay the penalty. Classified employees are so poorly paid that, for most, not participating isn’t an option. Things are going to get very tight in my budget.
The university says information (which is aggregated and not employee-specific) will help them offer health workshops. This will assist employees in staying healthy. That argument is proven untrue when employees have asked repeatedly that gym membership be free to employees. The university has steadfastly refused. Since membership in the campus gym costs hundreds of dollars, most classified employees can’t even dream of being members. Working out a few times a week beats workshops.