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barack obama reading letter

There is one thing you could do that would be a tremendous encouragement to current educators and encourage others to become teachers: expand the student loan forgiveness program to all K-12 and public college instructors, and increase the incentives to those who currently get student loan forgiveness.

I read that Obama reads ten letters from the public a day, so I've sent a couple, like this:

President Obama,

   Thank you for your emphasis on education in your recent state of the union and Saturday radio address.

   There is one thing you could do that would be a tremendous encouragement to current educators and encourage others to become teachers: expand the student loan forgiveness program to all K-12 and public college instructors.

   Those who currently get student loan forgiveness could get it at an increased pace or some additional incentive like a tax credit.

   I teach community college, and because most schools hire mostly part time instructors at as little as a quarter the pay of full time faculty and don't us health benefits (I didn't get any from from any of my schools for the first eight years I taught), I was not able to make consistent payments on my student loans until just the last two or three years.

   Consequently, my debt doubled from $50,000 to over $100,000, and my payments are greater than my rent.

   The overuse and abuse of part time faculty at community colleges needs to be ended as well, but expanding the forgiveness of student loans would tell society that our work deserves at least one-tenth of one percent as much of the financial recognition that Wall Street gave themselves in bonuses with the bailout money.

Sincerely,

professor second class citizen


PS:  You can write Obama yourself too.

Originally posted to Professor Smartass on Sat Feb 28, 2009 at 03:05 PM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  You need a student-loan tip jar? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Amber6541, Poycer
  •  It would be nice to see free college and (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    burrow owl, akeitz, TNThorpe, Poycer

    university for everybody and anybody some time in the future.  Right now would be problematic because of the state of the federal budget.  Also, I think that is another area that we need to gradually work toward acceptance of the idea within the public arena.

    A man can fail many times, but he isn't a failure until he begins to blame somebody else. John Burroughs

    by Amber6541 on Sat Feb 28, 2009 at 03:13:54 PM PST

  •  Total loan forgiveness? (8+ / 0-)

    I don't agree with this.

    I do believe that access to higher education is important and costs should be reasonable but I can't go there regarding totally forgiving the debt of a specific occupation.

    Wonders are many, but none so wonderful as man.

    by Morgan Sandlin on Sat Feb 28, 2009 at 03:16:28 PM PST

  •  This would be nice (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    dennisl, drmah, AmbroseBurnside

    in areas of the US where it is hard to recruit teachers.  The teacher makes a committment and their loans are forgiven.  

  •  Take $700 billion from annual "defense" budget. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    TNThorpe, TheCid

    Spend $600b on early childhood, elementary, and high school improvement. Spend the remaining $100b on no-strings scholarships available to college-bound high school graduates contingent on high school performance.

    That's what I'd do.

    "All wars end with talking." - CKendall.

    by haruki on Sat Feb 28, 2009 at 03:18:41 PM PST

  •  College tuition... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    akeitz, seefleur

    ...keeps going up.  Faster than inflation, even.

    Before we put more money into the higher education system, I'd like an accounting of exactly where that money is going.

    •  I agree--force schools to cut admin costs (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      akeitz, ladybug53

      the other area that is problematic, at least at higher ed level is building and other contracting.  There is room for graft in how that stuff is given out, and there should be some kind of reward for whistleblowers who bird-dog suspected corrupt dealings.

      •  The idea of heavy administrative expenses... (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        burrow owl, ManhattanMan, drmah

        ...doesn't withstand much scrutiny, for most public colleges and universities.  The sole important reason why some public colleges and universities are cheaper and some are more expensive is that some institutions don't feel they are functioning in a competitive environment--they will take the students who come regardless of credentials above a basic baseline, and they'll take the faculty they can get regardless of credentials above a basic baseline--while other institutions are frankly in competition against each other and against private institutions.  That means more creature comforts, material and non-material (but still costly) for students, and a bidding-up of salaries and research resources for faculty.  Short of telling institutions in the second category that they have to become like institutions in the first category, I'm not sure what the solution is.

        Al que no le guste el caldo, le dan dos tazas.

        by Rich in PA on Sat Feb 28, 2009 at 03:29:50 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Well, at "the" Ohio State University, (0+ / 0-)

      it's going to outrageous salaries for the pfesident, the athletic director and some other top officials. And adding a "the" to its name doesn't make it any better.

      Rob Portman: He sent your job to China.

      by anastasia p on Sat Feb 28, 2009 at 03:31:34 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Well, given that... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      drmah, Poycer

      ...most public universities have to make their budgets public, you're more than welcome to look at where they're getting their money from and where they're spending it.

    •  Rising cost of education (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Poycer

      One of the primary reasons tuition is going up is that the states keep lowering the amount of money going to colleges.

      One of my favorite education blogs regarding higher education is Dean Dad. Here's a nice breakdown of what happens every year between colleges and state governments.

  •  Grandaughter: Senior at IU Kelly Sch of Business (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Karma for All, ladybug53, TheCid

    Sarah and many of her friends graduating from business school this spring are being interviewed by "Teach America," the initiative which Obama referred to in his speech.  Young college grads would agree to teach a couple of years in schools with a large number of at-risk students in exchange for loan reducation.  "Teach America" is really interested in math and science majors, but this is a good direction for Business School grads who may not find jobs in their field for a couple of years, anyway.  Sarah is a triple major in Business, Psychology, and Spanish so is being interviewed to teach English as a second language.

    Grandaughter's boyfriend is a Banking/Finance Major who did his internship with CitiCorp.  Grads with this major were told there probably would not be interviews scheduled on campus as recruiters have done other years.  Daniel is in deep troublr in seeking a job.  

  •  Well, good luck with that. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    burrow owl, Morgan Sandlin

    If you could specify loan forgiveness for good teachers, I might be able to get behind it, but even then, it's certainly not the only occupation our society undervalues. Loan forgiveness for artists! And hospice workers.

    •  Re: "good teachers" (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Heiuan, Poycer

      There was a time when I believed I was signing on for a "noble profession" when I began teaching.  This meant to me that I would be working toward the betterment of society and would be compensated partially with the respect of colleagues and the public at large for the sacrifice of using my education to help future generations.

      This all went out the window when I realized that most of America has little to no respect for the classroom teacher anymore.  We are continually criticized, second guessed, heaped upon, all the while taking on more and more parental responsibilities for the next generations than any of us will admit for fear of pissing off the same people screeching for "merit-based" pay.

      So, I guess my 21st century in-the-know response to you now is, "You get what you pay for." The "noble" aspect of the profession is archaic now.  Too bad for the world.

      •  I speak only and directly... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        burrow owl

        of my own personal experience. Which ever-so-slightly predates the 21st century. I had some great teachers and I had some really crappy teachers.

        It's the same in every other group of anybodys anywhere. And (as always) more painful in the heavily mythologized fields. If recognizing that there are bad teachers besmirches you somehow, well, that's you. I certainly don't include all teachers in my assessment of bad teachers. Not by a long shot. In my experience, you get what you pay for with about as much consistency as you get what you deserve.

        •  Yes. But for some reason we pay much more to (0+ / 0-)

          not get what we pay for to every other just about every other professional but teachers, regardless of whether there are "good" or "bad" amongst them.  

          My response has nothing to do with recognizing that there are "bad teachers."  It does have some things to do with the continued pointing out of this (as you admit) obvious fact for all professions whenever there is attention drawn to the fact that teachers are underpaid.

          I would have been OK with the "mythology" as part of the reward but that isn't there for teachers anymore.  Not only is the profession disrespected materially by our society, it is also stripped of the prestige necessary to maintain a respectful atmosphere of learning.  For this, we'll have to compensate.  What exactly is the incentive for anyone to want to take on a thankless job that is the proverbial punching bag for all manner of people ranging from guilt-ridden parents to politicians without a clue?  Teacher's are continually burning out and taking on jobs with less stress, more status, and better pay.

          So, as I pointed out, the 21st century has no choice but to compensate with cash or continue to lose good teachers.  You want good teachers, you will have to pay them well.  

  •  I've paid $25,000 to the Dept. of Ed (8+ / 0-)

    in repayment of a loan of $22,000 originally. I've been paying for twelve years, never failed to make a payment, though I did have to ask for two three-month forbearances during that time.  I currently owe a little over $19,000.

    I'm 58 years old and I guess I'm going to be dragging this ball and chain with me all the way to the grave.

    I didn't realize the US government student loan program was in the usury business or I would have found some other way.

    I've been teaching science in an urban district that is 87% free and reduced lunch eligible for all that time, making below the US median income and even below the median income for teachers in the US.  I think I deserve a break.

    Light is seen through a small hole.

    by houyhnhnm on Sat Feb 28, 2009 at 03:31:10 PM PST

    •  Good arguement.My reservation w.Teach for America (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Karma for All, Heiuan

      is no teaching methods are included.  I remember how difficult it was to teach that first year using every techinique I had been given.  I think some planning for guiding graduates in ways to be successful in the classroom will be needed. Understaning the good classrooom management is a art gained with experience isn't generally seen by politicians.  

  •  What about people who didn't take loans or (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    burrow owl, drmah

    already paid them back? Isn't this unfair to them? Since forgiving loans is the same as just giving you the money to pay them back, why not forget all this loan stuff and just ask for a government-paid bonus for all new teachers?

  •  But what about the teachers already working? (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    burrow owl, Karma for All, drmah

    So what about the teachers who haven't left the field and have stayed? They should also get a bonus

  •  How about doctors? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    burrow owl

    Doctors are very useful.

  •  THE POLL STINKS (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    burrow owl

    Money for college can be earned at school or in the private work place, school and govt grants, scholarships and finally debt forgiveness if the individual is willing to work in certain professions, certain neighborhoods, certain schools for a period of years giving back and serving their community.  Doctors in the Natl Health Service Corp get debt forgiveness after 5 years, teachers and other professions should be allowed similar opportunities. We need more doctors, teachers, etc.. and new slots need to be opened up at colleges and universities to accommodate the growing needs, For far too long, the physician, accounting and science slots have been arbitrarily limited to protect "income" potential instead to meeting the needs of community and country.We also more technical schools.  Our public education system needs to be able to assist children in selecting occupations. The parents cannot be the only career guides for future generations.

  •  I don't get this part: (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    drmah

    expand the student loan forgiveness program to all K-12 and public college instructors.

    Do you mean community colleges?  Or do you mean all public universities?

    If the latter, then that seems like an arbitrary cutoff.  Flagship state universities pay MUCH better than all but the most prestigious private colleges.

    The moral arc of the universe just had one hell of a bend.

    by cardinal on Sat Feb 28, 2009 at 04:00:42 PM PST

    •  most CCs hire mostly part timers & pay (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Karma for All, jessical

      as little as a quarter as much per class.

      State universities also depend heavily on non-tenure track professors who have no job security from term to term, so they don't have a consistent source of income to pay back those loans.

    •  Here's a possible fix: (3+ / 0-)

      Cover all teachers at public schools (including public universities) making less than some number that's roughly equivalent to good pay for a K-12 public school teacher.  But you'd HAVE to limit it to full-time faculty.  As the diarist points out, many community college faculty are part-time.  Some are part-time at a couple of different community colleges, and between them STILL make less than most K-12 teachers, but some are part-time because they enjoy teaching and have a full-time job that provides most of their income.  I don't think we want to forgive student loans for successful lawyers or CPA's who are teaching one course per semester in accounting or business law, for example.

      •  about 60% patch together several PT jobs (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Karma for All

        those who have better paying second (or first) jobs are the distinct minority and usually teach vocational classes.

        •  I don't know (0+ / 0-)

          I understand the problem, but I don't know how to cover the part-timers who SHOULD be covered without covering those who clearly SHOULDN'T be covered.  I'd be open to suggestons if I were making the decisions, but offhand, I don't know how to craft one.

          •  Very simple. Write it into tax law as a credit (0+ / 0-)

            or deduction taken only by people working an appropriate percentage of time as educators.  

            •  Unfortunately, I don't think it's that simple (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              jessical

              Colleges don't have time clocks for faculty members (and even if they did, they'd be meaningless).

              No educator works 40 hour per week (in terms of standing in front of the class time), and nobody could possibly do so, the sneering comments of right-wing demagogues about the light work schedules of faculty members to the contrary notwithstanding.  

          •  How's about by earned income? (0+ / 0-)

            Make more than $55K a year, no forgiveness for you!!  j/k :D  Though, I really don't know a lot of teachers who make better than this.  At least not in GA.

            The apocalypse will require substantial revision of all zoning ordinances. - Zashvill Political compass -7.88 -7.03.

            by Heiuan on Sat Feb 28, 2009 at 06:13:03 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

  •  Why just teachers? (0+ / 0-)

    I'm for Universal Education, I see it as a national survival issue and not a privilege.I'd like to see zero to very little debt incurred as a result of getting and continuing and education. If you go to college and don't f-around and you stick to it, you shouldn't graduate as a wage slave. This applies whether you graduate at 22, or 62.

    I come from a family full of educators, and I have spent time in the classroom. But singling out teachers only is a mistake.I can tell you from another student loan discussion that there are some real resentful people out there who had their debt and want to make sure others keep theirs.

    There are other high need professions as well do we not address them?

    Why not everyone who serves the public good in more than just an administrative capacity? Or even include administrators if you'd like. But shouldn't the goal be much wider than just teachers?

    There are lots of us in the same boat who would like to serve, shouldn't we receive the same considerations?

    "Most people would sooner die than think; in fact, they do so."

    by sebastianguy99 on Sat Feb 28, 2009 at 05:57:39 PM PST

    •  Because if the point is to make education (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Professor Smartass, Poycer

      more affordable, it kind of makes sense to help out teachers.

      Teachers make so little for what they do--and believe me, community college teachers make less.  

      •  I agree, I just want to broaden the idea (0+ / 0-)

        I don't disagree with your description of the problem or how you would approach a solution. I just want to extend that solution to the public in general.

        I know how little teachers make. I know the low pay, no benefit community college teachers make. The same applies for many above the community college level as well.

        "Most people would sooner die than think; in fact, they do so."

        by sebastianguy99 on Sat Feb 28, 2009 at 11:03:06 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Agree we should be doing more to make (0+ / 0-)

    college affordable for students and families, and at the very least, public education costs should be kept low--that will give incentive to the private schools to keep their costs more in line.  That being said, I think Harvard should cover the cost of all qualified students in this country to attend whatever college or university is appropriate for them.  Harvard has soooooooooo much money it is ridiculous, and they should help out.  It is good that they help their own students now, and I think their new policy regarding families making under $180,000 is good, but it is rather defensive.   They should do more for education in this country.  Not every one can attend Harvard--that's fine.  But they have the resources and they should lend them to "partner" with the other educational institutions.  How about a series of Harvard Scholarships--to students who attend schools other than Harvard.

    I'm serious.

  •  This is a gimmick and gimmicks don't work. (0+ / 0-)

    Forgiving the student loans of teachers helps teachers and no one else. If this is your goal, push for higher wages for teachers, the results are the same and it is a lot more transparent. If you want to help everyone who is going to college, push for lower costs for colleges directly - this cause is a winner if we all get behind it.

    I voted with my feet. Good Bye and Good Luck America!!

    by shann on Sat Feb 28, 2009 at 06:36:23 PM PST

    •  wages are set by individual districts and states (0+ / 0-)

      not the federal government.

      And particularly out in the sticks, the elected trustees tend to be business people looking for building and other contracts to throw to their friends rather than for the welfare of faculty.

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