Dear Joe Biden,
We write to you as the primary era made worse-off due to greater schooling. Student debt is a nationwide disaster that destroys lives, drags down the economic system and fuels the racial wealth hole.
No one must be pressured to mortgage their future for an schooling, but 45 million of us have been pressured to just do that. Today the entire quantity of student debt stands at $1.7tn, and it retains rising. This is a direct results of a long time of divestment in public funding and the privatization of upper schooling right into a for-profit trade. This damaged system has shifted the burden of financing greater schooling on to particular person students and households, disproportionately harming Black, Brown, immigrant and low-income communities. Bold options are required to handle the harms this coverage failure has induced. These options can begin with the personnel staffing the US Department of Education.
As dangerous as Betsy DeVos is, many of the issues with our greater schooling system predate her. When President Obama was in workplace, debtors and advocates sounded the alarm about hovering tuition, mounting student debt, predatory loan servicers, legal for-profit schools and extra, however their warnings went unheeded.
Under the management of Arne Duncan, John King and Ted Mitchell, the Department of Education basically didn’t take heed to and shield their constituents. Under their watch, the entire quantity of student debt doubled, surpassing the entire quantity of credit card debt for the primary time in historical past. They sat by and allowed impoverished and aged debtors’ social safety to be garnished. Several Obama administration officers grew to become traders within the predatory for-profit Apollo Education, together with Tony Miller, Obama’s former deputy secretary of the schooling division. And regardless of public outcry over abuses, Ted Mitchell fought to maintain predatory for-profit faculties alive, authorized the sale of those faculties to ECMC (an abusive debt assortment firm), and now serves as president of the American Council on Education lobbying towards mass student debt cancellation.
Meanwhile, the students who had been defrauded by predatory for-profit faculties proceed to attend for justice. The schooling secretary, Arne Duncan, promised them: “If you’ve been defrauded by a school, we’ll make sure that you get every penny of the debt relief you are entitled to through … as streamlined a process as possible.” He broke that promise. And there are tons of of different Obama Department of Education officers with a historical past of failing students who’re simply ready to waltz again in by means of the revolving door.
Student debtors can’t afford one other Democratic administration that sells them out and sells them quick. A Biden administration should make a clear break from this historical past. It is time for a brand new Department of Education staffed with champions who will combat for students. You ought to appoint robust advocates to combat for students and actual options to the student debt disaster.
Additionally the Department of Education Organization Act permits the president to nominate as much as 4 assistant secretaries of schooling. As president, you must fill all 4 of those positions.
You ought to decide to appointing:
A secretary of schooling who will use the authority Congress has already granted the secretary to cancel student debt on their first day in workplace. During the first, Elizabeth Warren promised to make use of the division’s full “compromise and settlement” authority to offer student loan aid, and in March the Trump administration really did, although the aid they offered was woefully insufficient. Nevertheless, the transfer was vital as a result of it’s a additional recognition of the federal government’s broad energy to cancel student debt. A Biden administration shall be inheriting an financial despair and a world well being disaster, alongside Mitch McConnell promising to be the “grim reaper” killing any insurance policies designed to assist individuals. Canceling student debt through the Department of Education bypasses McConnell, and is a direct solution to stimulate the economic system (estimated at a $1tn stimulus over 10 years) and create tens of millions of recent jobs. With individuals’s lives – and livelihoods – at stake, it could be merciless and pointless for the Department of Education to proceed cashing in on student debt. We can’t afford the financial injury this debt causes to American households.
An assistant secretary of schooling devoted to enforcement. As president, you must appoint an assistant secretary devoted strictly to implementing the rules already on the books. By merely implementing its personal rules, the Department of Education may basically reshape how greater schooling features and is financed. For a long time now, it has tolerated a wild west method, permitting rip-off accreditation businesses, predatory for-profit faculties (which amass big earnings by exploiting low-income communities), and law-breaking debt collectors and loan servicers to flourish. We want somebody on the Department of Education who can shut down these corrupt businesses, for-profit faculties and abusive servicers and debt collectors as soon as and for all.
An assistant secretary devoted to racial justice and racial fairness. This goes past merely defending civil rights; our schooling system is basically racist, from the disparities in Ok-12 funding, to persistent “legalized” segregation, to discriminatory enrollment practices and the deeply racialized nature of student debt. (Study after research after research after research after research after research have proven that student debt is a driver of the racial wealth hole, and that the extra student debt we cancel, the higher it’s for Black and Brown debtors.) This place must be given full rein to look at how white supremacy features at each stage of our instructional system and the way our system should change on deep structural ranges to restore and redress these inequities.
By making these commitments you may present the 45 million voters battling student debt and the tens of millions of would-be faculty students that you simply take their ache significantly. During the Obama administration we organized protests to mark what we known as “1T Day,” the day student debt surpassed $1tn. Unless actual options like College for All are enacted, we shall be marking 2T Day throughout a Biden administration.
A era in the past, faculty was mainly free. As a outcome, many elected officers had been in a position to graduate with out taking out student loans. Over the previous couple of a long time, tens of millions of students have suffered from a coverage failure that developed on their watch – a coverage failure that we all know repair. You can present that you’re dedicated to staffing a Department of Education that may combat for students, stand for racial justice, and assist construct a good, equitable and debt-free greater schooling system.
The Debt Collective
Action Center on Race & the Economy (ACRE)
The Project on Predatory Student Lending at Harvard Law School
Progressive Democrats of America (DPA)
Council of UC Faculty Associations
NYC DSA Debt & Finance Working Group
Social Security Works
Student Loan Justice
The Progressive Change Campaign Committee
Scholars for Social Justice