I will protect your pensions. Nothing about your pension is going to change when I am governor. - Chris Christie, "An Open Letter to the Teachers of NJ" October, 2009

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Our Student Debt Crisis

Congratulations to a great New Jersey teacher. Nice to see Milken money going to help teachers instead of screwing up their profession (those Milkens have made quite a mess of the education system down in Tennessee).

The source of the prize aside, I couldn't help but notice this:
Iannucci said he’s considering putting the money toward his $78,000 in student loan debt. He attended Seton Hall University, then graduated from Montclair State University with a degree in computer science. He later earned a master’s in educational leadership from Montclair State. [emphasis mine]
If the Milkens really want to help teachers, they'd put their money into lobbying for revisions to the tax code that stop giving Wall Street-types enormous tax breaks. We could then put that money into helping young people who are committed to public service pay off their outrageous student loan debts.

No society that really cared about elevating the profession of teaching would allow educators to go into this kind of hock. In fact no one, teacher or otherwise, should incur this kind of debt merely from earning a college degree.

A society that cares more about keeping taxes on the super-rich low while forcing middle-class people who go to college to carry this kind of burden clearly places very little value on education at all. I'm happy for this teacher, and he deserves this prize, but he and every other young person who works hard and plays by the rules deserves more support than this.


KatieO said...

Duke, thank you for this post.

I kick myself everyday for going back to school. Part of me feels I should have done an alternative teaching program, but even now I feel those programs are harmful to kids. I didn't want to "learn on other people's children". I wanted to know how to teach before entering the classroom.

But I paid a huge price (both literally and figuratively)for the choice to do a full Master's of Ed program before teaching. (And yes, I did in fact work full time while I was in school. Just wasn't close to enough.)

Now Arne Duncan and Co. are telling us that an advanced degree is worthless. I strongly beg to differ, but as teacher pay and benefits are under attack, the powers that be are making that statement true.

I will never own a house, cannot afford a car, took on three jobs just to afford a short trip overseas, all so I can work a job which I believe to be vitally important. And in today's anti-teacher climate, I do not even get respect for working with children with significant emotional and behavioral disabilities.

I may have to leave teaching to pay off these ridiculous loans. And that kills me.

Anonymous said...

I don't see anything nice about this nebulous "award."
Just a few things . . .

1. The article mentions no criteria for this award (gift, bribe?). Hey, why don't I send a police officer or other public worker a check for doing a great job? Was there an application process? Or is Christmas early? Regular folks aren’t even supposed to tip their letter carrier!

2. Is the honoree a career teacher, or is this guy on the fast track to administration? (See why his loan debt is so high. It's a sound investment.) Many teachers reading this will have seen this type before. What about the folks in for the long haul? (By the way, check out the career paths of Hollywood hero teachers featured in such fantasies as Dangerous Minds and Freedom Writers. Short-timers! )

3. The SL points out that just about everyone passes his classes and 96% go to college. Which classes does he teach? What data backs this college figure? How do these "stats" compare with those of his fellow teachers?

4. Can we imagine such an “award” going to teachers in subject areas other than math?

There’s more to say, but I have to cut down a few trees. NowlanAnon

Anonymous said...

In many of the western European countries (Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland, etc.), university education is free or very cheap. These are countries with universal health care and many other benefits that we can only dream about in our wildest fancies. These countries are free democratic capitalistic societies but they are much more egalitarian than the US. They don't have a top 1% hogging all the wealth as we do in the US. They do not have 21% of their kids living in poverty, they do not have the same rate of overall poverty as the US, not even close. They are not engaged in endless AVOIDABLE wars either.

jcg said...

Be very cynical about Wall Street felons bearing gifts. We had one of our UTK graduates in Knoxville,TN receive a $10,000 Milken Award the year before the state awarded them millions to impose their TEAM/TAP program on the public schools.

I don't assume to understand anyone's motives, but I can tell you facts about effects of the Milkens on schools. My guess is that the Milkens are softening up teachers and voters for their evaluation/merit pay program "see, we give bonuses to teachers for those who "earn" it, just like we and our job creating cronies 'earned' our fortune on Wall Street.(BTW, The Milkens market a package of "reforms". TEAM is the evaluation system for all teachers. TAP is the merit pay/mentoring program imposed on failing schools.) Two years ago,the Knox County Broad Academy Superintendent allowed "failing"schools vote on becoming a TAP school. Those that voted no, went through a year of firings and restructuring. After that, TAP was imposed with no faculty input. See the authoritarian trend? TEAM/TAP begins like a slow growing parasite, and then sucks the life out of it's host.

Now I'm not saying teachers shouldn't win cash awards. It's just that the Milken Foundation fortune is a) tax deductible and thus deprives communities of tax money and b) is generated from monstrous state contracts for an evaluation system that will result in 85% of the teachers in TN unable to achieve or loose tenure.

I'm just saying. NJ teachers MUST get out in front of the PR blitz of the magnanimous Milkens.

Anonymous said...

It sounds like the winner is part-time teacher with cushy classes. Nothing wrong with that, but it's nice to know who gets these checks.
Thinking about applying for 25 grand? Good luck! This is from the Miliken site:
"Based on guidelines established by the Foundation, participating states’ departments of education appoint blue-ribbon committees that recommend candidates for selection. Identification and selection procedures are confidential, and the program does not include a formal nomination or application procedure.
The criteria for the selection of outstanding elementary and secondary school teachers, principals and other education professionals as Milken Educators include all of the following:
• Exceptional educational talent as evidenced by effective instructional practices and student learning results in the classroom and school;
• Exemplary educational accomplishments beyond the classroom that provide models of excellence for the profession;
• Individuals whose contributions to education are largely unheralded yet worthy of the spotlight;
• Early- to mid-career educators who offer strong long-range potential for professional and policy leadership; and
• Engaging and inspiring presence that motivates and impacts students, colleagues and the community."

Anonymous said...

"No formal application process or application procedure" --that's the operative phrase!

"Why should we care?" the Gov. would ask.