Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The Lumina Foundation Wrote SACRA

In a previous posts, we speculated that an organization called Demos with ties to ACORN wrote SAFRA (HR3221). After some further investigation, we uncovered that the connection to Obama, Demos and the Lumina Foundation.

On December 15, 2008, the Lumina Foundation sent a memorandum to the Presdential Transition Team in response to a request of ideas that might be useful 'during the transition'. The Lumina Foundation estimates the US will face a shortage of 16 million college educated workers by 2025. Those that do graduate will be saddled with student debt burdens that keep them in lower paying but in vital career fields, such as teaching or social work.

The Lumina Foundation's "Big Goal" is to increase the percentage of Americans with high-quality, two or four year college degrees and credentials from 39% to 60% by 2025, an increase of 23 million graduates above current rates.

The Lumina Foundation replied to the White House's request for ideas and comments with the following broad policy strands.

1. Make human capital development a cornerstone of US economic policy.
*Make postsecondary education the nation's workforce development system.
*Expand adult learning opportunites

2. Assure every child is prepared for sucess in postsecondary education.
*Align standards between k-12 and postseconday education
*By 8th grade, provide all children and families with information needed to plan for college
success.

3. Define student outcomes for postsecondary education, including expectations for both
completion and learning.
*Foster the development of the Collegiate Learning Assessment, Voluntary System of
Accountability, and other assessments of higher education learning.
*Explore the lessons of the Bologna Process and other international efforts to improve
higher education
*Include data on outcomes in national postsecondary data systems.

4. Approach affordability in new ways.
*Dramatically simplify financial aid
*Apply tax policy to benefit low-income students, such as progressive 529 plans
* Improve higher education productity, particularly by improving data on costs and results.

The rule of thumb is that educational debt shoul not exceed 8% of one's monthly income. But, according to the Lumina Foundation, poor and working class students with a degree have educational debt from student loans that tend to exceed 20-30% of their monthly income. The actual bill reveals that the loan rates will be capped at around 6%, but will not decrease the amount of loans students take out to fund their education. In other words, loans, not grants, will still be the primary source of funding for students, especially the poorer ones.

Note: Jamie Merisotis and CEO of Lumina Foundation for Education, was one of the several leaders honored on stage by President Bill Clinton during the Clinton Global Initiative's fifth annual meeting in New York City on September 23, 2009.

Laura and Michelle

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