There has been a lot of talk about whether or not there is a crisis on the border. I will leave that debate to the politicians. However, there is no debate about whether or not America has a crisis hitting all 50 states and over 40 million people. This crisis is impacting millions of students pursuing their dreams of earning a college degree. The crisis is impacting millions of young people coming out of college, wanting to be fiscally responsible and save, and buy their first home. What is the crisis? It is America’s $1.56 trillion student loan debt.
Today, student loan debt is the second greatest source of individual debt, only behind mortgages, according to the Federal Reserve. Something must be done about the ever-rising student debt, and the Thurgood Marshall College Fund (TMCF) is taking the issue of financial literacy with HBCU students head-on. Exposing the nearly 300,000 students we represent to the host of scholarship offerings is one of our main strategies for decreasing student loan dependence. TMCF understands that student loans disproportionately impact minority students – with the greatest negative impact on African-American students. We have to put just as much early attention on student loan debt by providing student scholarships, grants and wraparound services, so HBCU students can persist in their studies without dropping out because of finances. The more scholarships we can award, the fewer loans students are forced to take, so they graduate without the strain of insurmountable student loan debt.
As the wealth gap continues to grow we know that by 2053, the Net Worth of African-American families is projected to hit $0, so there is a clear urgency to educate and support organizations that have direct connections to young African American students that will be entering the workforce. TMCF is committed to empowering students attending HBCUs on how to secure and keep a good paying job and build a career into the C-Suite, or become entrepreneurs, save money and build wealth for the future in the hopes of being great global leaders that give back to future generations.
Additionally, we are teaching HBCU students to be better college consumers, moving career-focused programming to Freshmen and Sophomores, so they can choose college course strategically, in order to graduate in four years, while entering the talent pipeline earlier.
More than 80% of all HBCU students attend TMCF member-schools and 97% of those students rely on financial aid in their pursuit of a degree. Through our partnerships with many companies such as Wells Fargo, Boeing, Ally, and Apple we are providing scholarships, internships, corporate immersions, and innovation programs as well as good paying jobs.
For example, over the course of our partnership with Wells Fargo, they have provided more than $7.2 million in support of TMCF student scholarships and financial literacy curriculum development and announced a $1.1 million for the 2019-2020 academic year. In 2018, TMCF provided close to $10 million in direct aid for student scholarships, stipends, awards, wrap-around services, and institutional grants. Those are real dollars and for the majority of the students we serve, the dollars are transformational. This is important because according to aLendEDU study nearly three in 10 college students in America are solely responsible for paying for all of their higher education costs.
Finances should never be a barrier to graduation, nor should the financial impact of earning a college degree be a barrier for buying a home, saving money, starting a family, and having a good credit score. TMCF prides itself on building pipelines into good paying jobs but we also have to work to ensure that those students are able to truly reap the financial benefits of their achievements without having to pay off years of student loan debt.
Yes, the student loan situation is a crisis that must be addressed early and often with students, parents, family members, and guidance counselors. We need to make this an issue on the campaign trail on both sides of the aisle in every election, not just the 2020 presidential one. Roll Call recently reported that there are 66 members of Congress who are currently paying off their own personal student loans or debts for dependents. “Collectively, the 44 Democrats and 24 Republicans have higher education liabilities of $2.5 million, according to recent financial disclosures. The median student loan debt is $15,000, while average debt is $37,000.”
This is not a partisan issue and we will continue advocating for bipartisan solutions and effective student financial aid literacy opportunities especially for the Black College Community because we know they work. The student loan debt crisis can be corrected if we all work together to make sure our future innovators, government and corporate leaders can lead without the crippling burden of student loans. The time is now.
It is no secret that the Black man in American society must work harder than his counter-parts. And at the height of all the racial discrimination, Black males have lived with fear affecting their academic performance directly. However, during all these, there are those who are rising above the current and are proving to society that “yes we can.” One good example is the story of two Black boys- twins who have been named Valedictorians at their high school graduation.
The two brothers who were born 11 minutes apart, Malik and Miles George, went to Woodbridge High. They both scored excellently on their SATs and were both named valedictorians of their graduating class. Because of their good work, they will both be attending the Massachusetts Institute of Technology on scholarship. They had a choice between scholarships from five prestigious schools, and they chose MIT as their preferred school.
And Thursday at their graduation, they shared the stage, crediting their success to their parents. They also shared their love for science and the fact that they dedicated their time and effort to school work. Speaking to ABC7, Malik said of their parents, “Seeing them always doing their best to care for us has definitely made a good imprint on us,” Malik told the news station. “Whether it’s academics, athletics, some form of art, whatever passion someone has, my best advice would be just to explore it and do your best, and the success will come.”
Miles also talked of their efforts and one of the reasons they excelled so well. He said, “We worked hard, every course, studying, paying attention in class, asking questions is one of the most important things, being an active student in our own education, because that’s what the teachers are there for.”
The two boys have excelled not only in class but also beyond academics. The two have for a long time been science research fans and were also named first doubles tennis partners. This just goes to show that if you really give it your all, then you can achieve your goals.
The Woodbridge High School principal, Glenn Lottmann, spoke to ABC7, bragging of how wonderful the two boys were. She said, “I don’t know how long this segment is before I talk about what they’ve done right. I don’t think I have enough time… But I could tell you what they’ve done wrong, nothing!”
It is very encouraging to see young boys overcome the adversities that face the African American communities, and aim for their goals without fear. Malik also encouraged others not to fear ideas, he said, “Whether its academics, athletics, some form of art, whatever passion someone has, my best advice would be just to explore it and do your best and the success will come.”
Recently, in an article captioned, Turnaround office to begin work with failing Richmond County schools, the Augusta Chronicle reported, “Georgia Department of Education Chief Turn-around Officer Eric Thomas confirmed that his office has been invited by Richmond County School Superintendent Angela Pringle to begin work with some of the district’s 13 chronic-ally failing schools when the school year begins in August.”
Obviously, this was Pringle’s attempt to appear proactive. She was quoted as saying, “When you are working on behalf of children and you want all children to succeed, you put your ego aside and listen to others.” You also put your ego aside when your high paying job is on the line. The truth is, House Bill 338, directs the superintendent to listen and accept the advice of others or else.
Nevertheless, House Bill 338 was never meant to improve the overall academic success of the predominantly Black children which have been allowed to languish in failing schools. Apparently, the objective was not to turnaround schools to be successful, but to raise the schools a little higher from the bottom. The article quoted Thomas as saying, “Our objective is to have these schools no longer in the lowest 5 percent in the state, and once they are no longer in the lowest 5 percent in the state then we are not necessarily going to stay attached to them.”
In other words, show a slight improvement, give control back to the same incompetent leaders, and keep the school to prison pipeline intact.
Beginning with a controversial nomination that ended in a tie-breaking Senate confirmation vote and continuing throughout her tenure as Education Secretary, Betsy DeVos has faced unceasing criticism. While Administration officials would be inclined to give her the benefit of the doubt, many across the country would argue that she is not serving the public’s interests.
A recent interview on CBS’ 60 Minutes provided an opportunity to address the nonstop criticism before a national audience. Instead, it prompted a new wave of critiques from viewers and news outlets alike.
More important than these recent headlines, however, is the Department’s attempt to stop states from holding student loan servicers and collectors accountable. Claiming that state consumer protection laws “undermine” federal regulator requirements, a non-binding memo is yet another assault on the 44 million Americans who together struggle with a still-growing $1.5 trillion in student debt.
It was about this time last year that Secretary DeVos withdrew three memos that would have required loan servicers, in their renegotiated contracts, to provide more intensive “high touch” servicing for borrowers threatened with default. Then late in the summer of 2017, she withdrew inter-agency working agreements between the Department and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) commonly known as Memorandums of Understanding (MOUs). Prior to her joining the Education Department, these same MOUs led to a series of major enforcement actions against for-profit colleges like Corinthian and ITT Tech, as well as the nation’s largest student loan servicer, Navient.
With rollbacks in oversight and enforcement, the Education Secretary must think the department is doing a great job serving student loan borrowers that states should just butt out. A new departmental memo claims as much.
In response, Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Healey, who filed a lawsuit earlier this month that alleged overcharges to students by the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency was just as direct as she was quick to speak up.
“Secretary DeVos can write as many love letters to the loan servicing industry as she wants, I won’t be shutting down my investigations or stand by while these companies rip off students and families,” Healey said in a statement to The Intercept. “The last thing we need is to give this industry a free pass while a million students a year are defaulting on federal loans.”
Thank goodness for state AGs like Healey. Federal enforcement of consumer protection is currently at a real low.
When Mick Mulvaney was named Acting CFPB Director, a change of direction from consumer enforcement to education and information was promptly announced with a series of more changes. In Mulvaney’s view, CFPB would no longer use aggressive enforcement to hold financial service providers accountable. On his watch, consumers have basically been told not to expect much from CFPB, while businesses have been catered to and even asked to advise Mulvaney and company of what appropriate regulation looks like.
So, if the Department of Education is not going to work with CFPB to resolve complaints and CFPB is not interested in consumer enforcement, why try to tie the hands of states who only seek to protect their own residents?
Whitney Barkley-Denney, a policy counsel with the Center for Responsible Lending, addressed the impacts to consumers of color. “Due to racial disparities in income and wealth, the consumers hardest hit by these debts are consumers of color. While the federal government continues to find ways to placate these companies, states are ready and willing to serve the best interests of borrowers and taxpayers.”
The National Governors Association (NGA) agrees with Barkley-Denney.
In a related statement, the NGA said, “Last week’s declaration on student loan servicing from the U.S. Department of Education seeks to preempt bipartisan state laws, regulations and ‘borrower bills of rights’ currently in place and under consideration in more than 15 states…. States have stepped up to fill the void left, we believe, by the absence of federal protections for student loan borrowers, from potential abusive practices by companies servicing student loans.”
Randi Weingarten, President of the American Federation of Teachers was even more candid.
“With this move, she [Secretary DeVos] has castrated any state legislators and attorneys general from providing meaningful oversight of student loan services, yet she continues to fail to do so herself,” said Weingarten.
In 2017, a CFPB report showed that during the past five years, more than 50,000 student loan complaints were filed. Additionally, more than 10,000 other related debt collection complaints were filed on both private and federal student loans.
Where these complaints originate is equally eye-opening. In just one year, from 2016 to 2017, the growth in the number of student loan complaints exceeded 100 percent in 11 states: Georgia, Indiana, Louisiana, Mississippi, Montana, North Carolina, South Carolina, Pennsylvania, Texas, Washington State and West Virginia.
It’s enough to make one wonder, ‘Who is our federal government actually serving?’
WESTSIDE GAZETTE — Broward County Public Schools (BCPS) announced its top teacher, principal, assistant principal and school-related/District employee during the 2018 Caliber Awards Ceremony at the Fort Lauderdale/Broward County Convention Center in Fort Lauderdale on Thursday, February 1, 2018. The annual ceremony recognizes and honors the dedication and hard work of the District’s outstanding educators, leaders and staff.
The event was attended by more than 1,300 guests to honor the nearly 550 talented nominees and 16 extraordinary finalists vying for their respective coveted titles.
Congratulations to all of the 2018 Caliber Awards winners!
Teacher of the Year Tammy Freeman, Monarch High School
In her more than 10 years as an educator, Tammy Free-man’s passion for her work has earned the respect and admiration of both her students and colleagues. An English teacher who also serves as chair of the Language Arts Department, Freeman has shown outstanding ability as both collaborator and leader. She was named Monarch High School Teacher of the Year, in recognition of her efforts in challenging and encouraging young learners to grow as critical thinkers. “I empower my students by not only instilling skills that will help them become successful in life, but by helping them see how important their voice truly is,” Freeman says. This accomplished educator encourages her students to challenge themselves as independent learners and critical thinkers. Her commitment to personalized instruction builds students’ confidence in their abilities and a strong foundation for lifelonglearning.
Principal of the Year Michelle Kefford, Charles W. Flanagan High School
Michelle Kefford is in her seventh year as principal of Charles W. Flanagan High School. “When educating the next generation, it is critical that we provide exciting and relevant learning experiences for all students,” says Kefford. “My journey as a principal began by stressing to all staff it was imperative that we subscribe to a personalized approach to learning.” She also emphasizes the importance of students taking ownership of their learning. Quality education is a family tradition for Kefford, who says its value was instilled from a very young age. She recalls her mother urging her to teach and says, “I am grateful every day that I took her advice.” Kefford is described by her colleagues as dedicated and relentless in her commitment to ensure that the students she serves receive a first-class, high-quality education.
Assistant Principal of the Year Winfred Porter, Jr., Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School
For the last five years, Winfred Porter, Jr. has served as assistant principal at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High and for more than a decade, he has leveraged student ingenuity and curiosity by placing them in real-world situations. “It’s up to educators to find unique ways to prompt students to soak up information and apply it in unique and creative ways that impact the world,” he says. One of Porter’s strengths is the ability to build positive relationships with his students. “Building relationships with students is like opening a checking account. When it comes time to make a withdrawal, you must have something in the bank,” he says. “As an administrator, there are many opportunities to make withdrawals through discipline and corrective inter-actions, but I have made it a priority to make as many depo-sits of encouraging words and positive interactions, to ensure a productive understanding is developed. At the end of the day, students respect me for being consistent with them.”
School-Related/District Employee of the Year Frinette Volquez, Office Manager/Confidential Secretary, Hallandale High School
Frinette Volquez is the confidential secretary at Hallandale High School. A 13-year veteran of BCPS, she began her career as a cafeteria aide. She believes that every student has the potential to become something special. Volquez says that “by providing students with a safe and stimulating environment, where they are free to express their feelings, ideas, and opinions without judgement. We empower them to unlock their full potential to do great things.” Volquez’ colleagues say she is a true team player who always goes above and beyond, and fosters positive attitudes to bring out the best in others.
For the first time in Caliber Awards history, and thanks to the sponsorship of the Broward Education Foundation in partnership with Toyota of North Miami, the Teacher of the Year was awarded keys to a 2018 Toyota Camry SE.