Giving Compass’ Take:
· Alia Wong explains that the financial problems plaguing the teaching profession in the United States go beyond the loan forgiveness program.
· How can funders work to increase the number of teachers entering and staying in the teaching profession?
· Learn about the pay gap for teachers.
America needs teachers: A majority of the country’s most experienced K–12 educators are expected to retire in the next few years, while research suggests that thousands of others will likely leave the profession prematurely, citing job dissatisfaction. How to get more people to join the profession? A little more than a decade ago, policy makers came up with one idea they thought would help: Give teachers some extra support in paying off their student loans. So, in 2007, Congress tasked the U.S. Department of Education, which administers federal financial aid, with offering student-debt relief to recent graduates in public-service careers: Essentially, make your minimum monthly payments for 10 years and your loans will be erased.
Thousands of public-service workers—including teachers, nurses, and firefighters—have applied for forgiveness since 2017, when the relief went into effect, to no avail. Just 1 percent of applicants who say they meet the program’s ostensibly basic criteria have actually been approved, according to federal data, with the rest blaming misleading bureaucratic requirements that enable the Education Department’s contracted loan servicers to deny them the benefits. Now, teachers across the United States are suing the Education Department, alleging that its failure to make good on the loan forgiveness violates both their constitutional right to due process and administrative-procedure laws. (Liz Hill, the Education Department’s press secretary, declined to comment on the suit because it’s pending litigation, but noted in an email that the agency “is faithfully administering the complex program Congress passed.”)
The complaint—which was filed in federal court in Washington, D.C., by the American Federation of Teachers and a handful of individual public-school educators—is a capstone to the financial exasperation that, some advocates argue, has plagued K–12 teachers for more than a decade. They had counted on that loan forgiveness, they say, and planned their lives around it; its failure to materialize, the complaint’s supports allege, falls on households whose finances are already strained. Teaching, the complaint implies, is a financially calamitous path, and without loan forgiveness, teachers’ families face a lifetime of hardship.
Read the full article about America’s teachers by Alia Wong at The Atlantic.
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