Include community college instructors in the student loan forgiveness program.
I began my education at a community college and knew by the end of my first year that that's where I wanted to teach. The students I shared classrooms with were focused and hardworking, many with full time jobs and families to juggle with their schoolwork. My family could not help me with college, so I took out loans in addition to working. In order to teach college, I had to get graduate degrees as well, so I took out more loans to help support me through that. I also continued to work part time jobs and summers, but my main focus was my education. After ten years of only being able to get part-time positions after graduation, I moved across the country for a full-time teaching position at a fantastic community college. I teach five and six classes a semester as well as during the summer; I serve on committees for the college and the department. I advise over twenty students a semester. During my work week I may grade a hundred essays, answer dozens of emails from students and colleagues, advise students, discuss grades and progress on essays, evaluate texts for future use, meet about college budget requirements, and plan campus events. For this work I am paid a good salary, and I am lucky in my workplace. However, the salary I make is not enough, especially with the New York cost of living, to support my single mother status plus student loan payments, even with living on a strict budget. Saving for my son's education is not possible if I'm paying any potential savings amount into even a decreased payment for my student loans. I did take out the loans, so I was resigned to paying them for, well, ever, but then I heard about the loan forgiveness program for teachers. I'm a teacher! I serve low income students! Except when I looked into the program, I discovered the program is only for elementary, middle, and secondary school teachers. In New York, those teachers all make more than I do! Yet they can get their loans forgiven, and I cannot, despite working with the same students, the same number of students, and the same number of papers as any high school teacher in the same area. All I'm asking is that we amend the program to include community college professors. We serve the communities; we live in the communities; we have the same education requirements as a K-12 teacher. Why don't we get the same consideration as these other educators? Please help increase equitable compensation for ALL teachers who serve students in your communities-- ask the federal government to include community college instructors in the loan forgiveness program. I don't want to consider leaving this job; the 125 students I serve every semester are who I was twenty years ago-- students who need a cheaper, local alternative for getting a college education and who are willing to work hard despite the challenges to get one. Just treat me as any other teacher who does what I do, please-- that's all I'm asking.
- US Department of Education
Arne Duncan, US Secretary of Education
Please include community college instructors in the student loan forgiveness program for teachers. They are crucial to providing vital, valuable, affordable college educations to our communities. They deserve to be treated with the same respect and assistance given to the K-12 teachers who provide similar service to the communities and for whom forgiveness is available. The hard work that goes into a college education is not to be dismissed, and many of these community college instructors continue to pay for their own education for years while helping others achieve their goals. Please help them help our communities!
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