Category Archives: Schools/Education

Student loan debt cancellation: good or bad?

[Note: Here’s my two cents on the student loan cancellation plan: I’m all for it. Shoulda been more. But will it survive the imminent rightwing legal assaults? Some further thoughts below.]

From Religion Dispatches:

What with Ukraine, Mar-a-Lago, Jerome Powell, and what-not, I suppose we can be forgiven (ha!) if we didn’t pay a lot of attention to the gnashing of teeth over President Biden’s long-delayed decision to forgive a significant amount of student debt.

As with everything else, the fallout is sharply polarized, with people like Ted Cruz predicting the end of civilization as we know it, and with folks in the Larry Summers wing of the Democratic Party fussing over the possible inflationary impact. (Do these inflation hawks ever fuss over the debate-free passage of ginormous unpaid-for military appropriations? Just wondering.)

And then there’s the “Christian” (i.e., evangelical Protestant) reaction to Biden’s action, as reported in Christianity Today and elsewhere, where scholars and cranks play whack-a-mole with Bible verses having to do with debt.

What I like best is the Can we proof-text this? We probably shouldn’t. But let’s try anyway! aspect of it. Not to mention the dominant focus on rival passages in the Hebrew Bible without much, if any, attention paid to how Jesus responded to debt peonage in his time and place.

Stefani McDade begins her Christianity Today roundup of evangelical responses by reporting on the top four Bible verses being cited by online Christian commentators in response to Biden’s move. The top four verses popping up on her screen were all from the Hebrew Bible—or the Old Testament as CT prefers to call it.

Then McDade cites the reactions of three guys. The first, an Anglican priest from Indiana, is all in on debt forgiveness. This guy actually does quote Jesus a lot. The second guy, from the Cato Institute (that well-known Christian organization), says that you can’t apply biblical texts related to an ancient agrarian society to our situation. The third guy, who works for a Washington PR firm, says let’s not debate this at all:

Instead, we should humbly engage others with our biblical convictions and research about alternatives, cost-benefit analysis, and weighing of unintended consequences as we pursue human flourishing and the common good.

Continue reading Student loan debt cancellation: good or bad?

To Depolarize the USA, We Gotta Bust the Cultural/Educational Binaries

 

We need to move beyond the binary thinking of ‘us and them’ politics

Author Headshot By Jay Caspian Kang

Opinion Writer

New York Times — September 1, 2022

I am sad to announce that this will be the last edition of this newsletter. This decision was mine, and it was a difficult one to make because I’ve enjoyed the interactions I’ve had with you, my readers. Your emails and messages have made this, without question, the most enjoyable and satisfying writing gig of my career.
This project was always supposed to be free-flowing and open to my own interpretation. Such freedoms are rare in journalism, and while I was both excited and flattered by the opportunity to spill the contents of my brain on Mondays and Thursdays, I will admit that it took me a while to figure out what I wanted to actually say in this space. I am, by nature, a deeply ambivalent person about most things, and did not carry an agenda with me into the job.
But over the past year, as I’ve written about homelessness, education policy, nursing homes, and even dabbled a bit in the culture wars, a central argument began to emerge.
It goes something like this:

Continue reading To Depolarize the USA, We Gotta Bust the Cultural/Educational Binaries

Cancel [At Least Some] Student Loan Debt: YES!

[NOTE: In a better USA (a prospect rapidly receding on many fronts), canceling student loan debt would be part of a much larger, far-reaching higher ed reform program: tackling rampant tuition (& grade) inflation, restoring decent job security to the huddled masses of adjunct faculty yearning to breathe free, and make the rent (preferably led by tough-minded UNIONS), pushback on neo-fascist intellectual repression from one side and ultrawoke inquisitional orthodoxy on another; and lots more. (For details, cf., Sanders, Bernie, op. cit,)

But it ain’t happening. U. S. higher ed remains a multi-trillion steaming hot mess, especially for non-wealthy new students and young families.

So in the meantime, the Biden limited loan debt cancellation will be a boon to many. Let’s make it work til the stars align to make something more drastic possible. This piece presents a good case.)

New York Times — August 30, 2022

Why I Changed My Mind on Student Debt Forgiveness

Professor Dynarski is an economist at Harvard University.

Sign Up for the Education Briefing  From preschool to grad school, get the latest U.S. education news. Get it sent to your inbox.

As an economist who studies education, I long thought that forgiving student loans was a crude and inequitable tool for fixing student aid. College graduates, after all, are the winners in our society. College certainly changed my life: My father was a high school dropout, but his daughter is a Harvard professor. My student loans (which I paid off just a few years ago) were absolutely worth it. A bachelor’s degree, on average, puts graduates on a path to economic security.

Continue reading Cancel [At Least Some] Student Loan Debt: YES!

A Salute to New Teachers, and Other Front-Line Troops

Conservatives think education is a threat.
They’re right.

Washington Post — Opinion by Paul Waldman
— August 25, 2022

The conservative campaign against education is many things. As a political matter, it’s about intensifying the culture war so moral panic drives Republican votes. As a policy matter, its long-term goals include dismantling public education. As a personal matter, it’s often motivated by fear that the American system of education is a threat to people’s children — that the wrong ideas, even ideas themselves, are impossibly dangerous.

A free-range bouquet for new teachers

On that last point, conservatives are absolutely right: Education is indeed a threat to many things they believe.
Consider some recent news from the front. In a Texas school district, police officers showed up to a high school library to “investigate” a graphic novel about a bullied gay teen. In Oklahoma, a teacher was investigated for responding to a draconian school censorship law by covering up her classroom library with a sign saying, “Books the state doesn’t want you to read”; she then resigned.

In another Texas district, a middle school deemed portions of a book by the man for whom the school was named — a grandson of former slaves who learned to read at age 98 — to be “inappropriate.” The reasons are unclear; perhaps his tribute to the importance of reading was too inflammatory. Continue reading A Salute to New Teachers, and Other Front-Line Troops

Here’s to new teachers, and other front-line troops

Conservatives think education is a threat.
They’re right.

Washington Post — Opinion by Paul Waldman
— August 25, 2022

The conservative campaign against education is many things. As a political matter, it’s about intensifying the culture war so moral panic drives Republican votes. As a policy matter, its long-term goals include dismantling public education. As a personal matter, it’s often motivated by fear that the American system of education is a threat to people’s children — that the wrong ideas, even ideas themselves, are impossibly dangerous.

On that last point, conservatives are absolutely right: Education is indeed a threat to many things they believe.
Consider some recent news from the front. In a Texas school district, police officers showed up to a high school library to “investigate” a graphic novel about a bullied gay teen. In Oklahoma, a teacher was investigated for responding to a draconian school censorship law by covering up her classroom library with a sign saying, “Books the state doesn’t want you to read”; she then resigned.

In another Texas district, a middle school deemed portions of a book by the man for whom the school was named — a grandson of former slaves who learned to read at age 98 — to be “inappropriate.” The reasons are unclear; perhaps his tribute to the importance of reading was too inflammatory. Continue reading Here’s to new teachers, and other front-line troops