Thursday, August 20, 2009

Quod Est Veritas? Why isn't the Department of Education Putting Out Any Reports on Student Loan Debt?

So, I've been thinking about that data that was presented by the College Board in that frustrating article by Kim Clark. They manipulated the data coming from the NPSAS . We all know that. But I've been pondering things that are connected to journalism and integrity. I guess I'm old-fashioned, but I believe in transparency and honesty. The more I dig into this whole student lending disaster and dissect those who have the money, power, and the most awesome-est lobbyists around (not to mention the problematic and sloppy role that the DOE plays in this whole game as well as the senators whose pockets get lined by these nasty lenders, the universities and the benefits they reap from these folks, etc.) the more I realize I am old-school - I believe in ethics and admire a G-man like Jon Oberg. It also seems that journalists have forgotten things like integrity and transparency. However, sleepless nights lead you to gold mines on the internet - rest assured, dear readers, I have MUCH more to share. I am committing myself to the role of a watchdog, because those students and families who are really struggling (the sick, the destitute, and so forth) deserve to have a voice. As long as I can holler and put forth truths, I'll be here for those people.

There are two things that are important to know about why my thinking is troubled. (That doesn't mean it's fuzzy. Quite the contrary - it's crystal clear).

1) Why didn't Kim Clark tell her readers about the history of the College Board, i.e., that it had been a LENDER until 2007? I think that's important information to mention as a reporter, don't you think so too? Instead, Ms. Clark described them as "an organization for colleges." Hmmmm. What does that mean? For those of you already following me, you've heard my critiques and agreed. In short, I ask: where is Ms. Clark's journalistic integrity? Why wouldn't U.S. News and World Report state the objective facts?

2) Also, why hasn't the Department of Education put out a REPORT about student lending debt? Why won't the DOE do their OWN analysis of this data? Instead it is farmed out to the College Board who manipulate that data, as I mentioned above, and convince us that the student lending crisis isn't a big deal. Oh, wait, I'm sorry, it's all been SENSATIONALIZED, as Patricia Steele, claimed. (News Alert to those folks: IT FAILED to convince most of the readers, and don't even TRY and make that argument that we're all a bunch of ill-informed individuals who didn't bother reading the actual report. Ganz falsch. Entirely false).

I also don't understand why the NYT hasn't done fuller pieces about Applebaum and Collinge. This movement CLEARLY has traction. In fact, Applebaum's movement has surpassed 225,000 supporters on Facebook! That's fantastic, so why aren't these reporters doing more stories about Applebaum, Collinge, and blogs like this one? Does it not matter to them?


Conquest said...

I think your suspicions are on the right track. I assume the DOE doesn't produce a report because strong lobbies discourage this. They know the longer they can pretend that student loans are not in crisis, the longer banks can get away with excessive interest and restrictive terms.

C. Cryn Johannsen said...

Conquest -

Many thanks for your remarks. I think you are correct, and I will continue to dig and find the truth for those who are being taken advantage of.