3 Ways Activists Fought For P-20 Education in 2015
Activism and fighting for the common good are as old as the human race itself. In P-20 education, the last decade has seen progress for groups that have traditionally been left out of the decision and often made to fight for a seat at the table. To the surprise of some and elation of others, many of these education activists groups have be overwhelmingly successful, especially this past year. In honor of those of us that fight for what’s right, I decided to do a piece discussing the top ways that education activists pushed back against “the man” in 2015.
Oklahoma protestors rallied for public school funding. Thousands of protesters attended a rally at the Oklahoma State Capitol that called on the state’s legislators to
do a better job staffing and funding the public schools in the state, as reported by The Oklahoman. The Brighter Future rally was organized by the Oklahoma Parent Teacher Association, and more than 60 school districts cancelled classes so that teachers, students, and parents could attend the rally that has been taking place for over a decade. Whether the legislators listened remains to be seen, but it would be in their best interest to do so.
Oklahoma ranks below the national average when it comes to academic achievement and chances for success for its students, according to Education Week’s 2015 Quality Counts report. For K-12 achievement and education spending, Oklahoma received “F” rankings. It’s reasonable to surmise that there is a connection between both things; without properly funded schools with highly trained (and adequately paid) teachers, students will not be able to reach their full potential.
The protest’s organizers hoped to double last year’s numbers and have 50,000 people at the rally today as a gathering of that size would hopefully collect the attention needed for some real change to take place when it comes to the public schools in the state and the children who attend them. The connection between public school funding and staffing, and the success of its students, is very clear. To best guide this generation of K-12 students into an economically healthy future for the state, Oklahoma needs to put the right funding behind its public schools.
Corinthian students said USDOE used them as publicity stunt. In a story that continues to grow, students who formerly attended Corinthian colleges are accusing the United States Department of Education (USDOE) of using them as a publicity stunt.
Representatives from the “Corinthian 100” were set to meet with officials from the USDOE about their student loan debts but opted to cancel the meeting because they felt they were being used. According to the New Republic, a representative from the Debt Collective, the organization aiding the students in their quest against the USDOE, did not believe the government wanted to help.
“They’re using us so they can pretend to care about students.”
The Corinthian 100 continue to fight in an effort to get the government to forgive their student loan debt. Students that formerly attended schools under the now-defunct Corinthian colleges banner are attempting to exercise a clause listed in the contracts they signed for student loans.
That portion of the contract allows for students to make a “defense of repayment” if they feel that they’ve been deceived.
Because the federal government fined Corinthian $30 million, in part, for felonious ways of collecting debt, the for-profit institution was forced to shut down. That’s also why the 100 want their debt forgiven.
Caught in the middle are the students who are saddled with thousands of dollars’ worth of debt owed to the Department of Education. But the 100 are refusing to bend and are demanding that their debt be forgiven.
Because Corinthian received nearly 90 percent of its revenue from federal financial aid, the federal government should overreach to help students who have shown that they are unable to repay their loans. As a result of the carelessness of Corinthian and the government, these students may never return to college due to the debt held from a negative and painful experience with an organization masquerading as a college.
Corinthian students refuse to payback student loan debt. Corinthian Colleges, a for-profit education outfit, came under fire when, as reported by NPR, 107 of its former students refused to pay back their student loans as a form of protest.
In addition to the large amount of debt that the students carry, they also claimed that the degrees they received from Corinthian are not recognized by most employers.
The Associated Press reported that Corinthian shut its doors last July due to federal regulations. The college had more than 100 U.S. campuses with more than 70,000 students. But when enrollment started to slump and reports showed that nearly 100 percent of students at for-profit schools take out student loans to pay for their education, the United States Department of Education stepped in.
According to NPR, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau met with representatives from the “Corinthian 100” to discuss “ways to address the burden of their student loans.” This is likely a step in the right direction for those students, but it doesn’t fully address the student loan debt crisis that’s beginning to engulf higher education.
The Institute for College Access and Success, by way of Pew Trusts, a rising number of states’ graduating students have an average debt of more than $30,000. Coupled with the fact that student loan debt now outpaces debt tied to mortgages and credit cards and more than 7 million U.S. borrowers are in default on their loans, higher education just may be in crisis.
The “Corinthian 100” is currently in talks with the Department of Education regarding their student loans.
I think these students have every right to refuse this repayment and that they were victims of predatory practices by this non-defunct university. Colleges and universities need to be held accountable for the degrees they give students and for what those students do after college.
What would you add to my list of ways that education activists fought back 2015?