Monday, December 24, 2012

Prayer for the Indentured Educated Class

I don't normally write about my religious beliefs, but since this is Christmas Eve, I will share my thoughts about this special season. As a Christian, I am excited about tomorrow. It is on this day, each year, that we come together and remember that hope is alive and well. It is in our churches, around our dinner tables, and with our loved ones, that we are reminded that there is so much possibility for good in this world. We are reminded to treat one another - whether it is a friend or a stranger - with kindness and good will. I realize it is a cliche to say, but we should all be mindful of being kind towards one another every day. It should not be for just a day or for this season. While human beings have a tendency to act selfishly, neglect those they love, and hurt others, we all have the capacity to avoid these types of behavior. In the very least, we can try to do good works each day. Good works can be the simplest of things, like complimenting a stranger or simply opening a door for someone in need. It can also be part of a much bigger, challenging objective, one that you can choose to pursue as a career.

This season, which is imbued with so much joy, opens my heart and allows me to fight harder for the indentured educated class. I have been waging this battle for well over 3 years. There are times when I am extremely frustrated and feel helpless to change a crisis that could so easily be fixed - the desperate notes continue to land in my inbox, and, sadly, they are from new people. This work has also exposed me to a lot of negative things in this world. But that is not my focus. Instead, I pay very close attention to the kind words of support that I receive on a daily basis from readers. These words of support and love inspire me to continue fighting. I have come to the realization that this fight, on behalf of the indentured educated class, is my calling in life. Of course, I wish it weren't such a serious problem. Unfortunately, millions of us know that that is not the reality. The problem has been magnified. And for many of you, your situations are worsening. I want you to know that I am sorry for that. Rest assured, you are not alone. Moreover, there is someone who is fighting for you. It is a gift to be able to fight such a battle. I wouldn't trade it for anything in the world.

So, for those of you who will be celebrating the birth of Christ tomorrow, I want to wish you a very Merry Christmas.

-Cryn

Founder & Exec Director
All Education Matters


17 comments:

Anonymous said...

Beautiful Painting of Madonna and Child.

But chin up. The debtor's are not all that powerless and without leverage.

Last I heard, bloodless stones have survived for millions of years :)

Maybe Sl Debt will eventually go down in American History as something as odd as the Prohibition era?

But that will be for the historians to write about, blue eyes, for we will all be long gone after the natural expiration of our human lives and our debts are legally and "fairly" discharged.

Which is probably the most frustrating reality to the Usurers: the fact that Human Beings generally don't last longer than less than 100 years of coumpounded interest drawing life.



Strelnikov said...

This situation is too skewed to last; the debt is too high, the defaults are too large - this is a TRILLION PLUS DOLLARS we are talking about here, a Death Star of a debt. It's unsustainable and destined for failure, and if it carries on the SL market will collapse. I don't know if you remember 2007, but that was the year MyRichUncle.com went under. Without warning. It can happen again, in fact it will probably happen again but to Sallie Mae or one of the other hyper-over-leveraged firms. Like the German Ostfront in 1944, there is no stopping the collapse....all we have to do is continue to make a case that the SL companies are usurious and once the bomb goes off - bankruptcy's back, Albert Lord is killed, the SL fiasco is dismantled (at great public cost.)

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Anonymous said...

Cryn, I applaud your efforts because the federal government driven student lending regime is like so many other government programs. Such programs actually end up harming the very people they purport to help.

One need only look at the latest FHA default figures. FHA -- the new subprime. And of course minority neighborhoods are vastly more negatively impacted by a program which guarantees mortgages to borrowers who in many cases have no earthly idea of the risks they are taking on or any real ability to service the loan. Who would ever adopt such a policy?

The academic industrial complex has used the student loan program - which involves no underwriting - to raise prices on education dramatically and build protected empires and bureaucracies - all at the expense of hapless student intermediaries. And as is predictable, the people trying to crawl into the middle class are hurt the most.

Which brings me to your conundrum. While conservatives are not likely to be sensitive to the plight of so many (they will with good reason point to the number of people who have honorably serviced their loans), you will have a bigger problem with progressives and liberals. Why? Because they believe in the mantra that all education is good, and all educational debt is therefore good. The value of the education rarely gets factored into the equation. And the beneficiaries of the loan programs, those in the academic industrial complex, identify 95% or more as liberals or progressives. They are loathe to understand the incredible negative externalities which obtain with these programs. By way of example, progressives think they are doing students a favor when arguing for lower interest rates. OK, lower interest rates are nice, but what is needed is a vast restructuring of the loan programs, including capping the amount of loans which can be taken out each year severely (no more than 5k a year), and permitting discharge in bankruptcy (which in turn will cap the size of the loans and introduce some underwriting into the system). Yes, in the short run this will impact students. But right now there are very few incentives for entities to deliver a low cost education. With technology and the like, it can easily happen. Cut off the student loan spigot, and the marketplace can change, and cease protecting an elitist, progressive class of faculty and staff who seem to have no trouble soaking young people with loans, the terms of which would make a loan shark blush. Again, I think this is a difficult challenge for you - this problem is one owned by the liberal progressive power structure - indeed - academia is where it decided to nest after the 60's - and it will take considerable chutzpah to take them on. They and lousy government policies are the source of the problem.

Cryn Johannsen said...

@anonymous dec 26, thank you for your note. May I publish your comment as a follow-up to this post? Please let me know.

-Cryn Johannsen
Founder and Executive Dir.
All Education Matters

Anonymous said...

"No underwriting"

That hits the nail on the head!

How long would the Insurance Industry last if they tossed out the concept of adverse selection?

Thank you 11:39AM, and also for your outside of the box perspective on the whole Liberal v Conservative stuff that gets hammered into our heads by Universities and the media everyday.

I mean the whole wavelength of media, from NPR to FOX, and it is all a shell game.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for all you do, Cryn. I pray for the indentured educated class daily and I will also begin to pray for you specifically. It takes guts to do what you do. I hope you know that you're appreciated.

Cryn Johannsen said...

@Anonymous 1258 am, thank you for the kind words. I am humbled and appreciate your remarks.

-Cryn
Founder & Executive Dir.
AEM

A Hopeful Law Student said...

I think the whole scamblog movement is a lie now. These entitled kids need to grow up.

Anonymous said...

Dear Hopeful Law Student,

With all due respect, I'd say that the "entitled" group is not "these kids," rather, it is the group that feels it is owed the futures of 36 million people (number of student loan debtors).

The owners of for-profit "universities" who are buying sports teams and golf courses on the backs of the American taxpayers under the auspices of "financial aid," the presidents of public universities who earn in the upper six-figures, the CEOs, loan officers and collection agencies who make bonuses when student default, pushing them to do so, the political figures who accept money from the lobbyists of student loan companies in order to legalize usury, remove rights and enact other policies that turn students into indentured slaves. THOSE are the entitled people. They want something (practically blood money) for doing nothing.

The term "entitled" refers to someone who believes he or she is owed something for nothing. I cannot see how the word applies in the student debtor context? This is not consistent with the activities and behaviors of student loan debt/debtors. These students worked their tail ends off in school and they are working hard now trying to not just exist, but make good on their debt obligations. Expecting a normal life as a result of very hard work is not the definition of an entitled attitude. Every law has been made against student debtors' best interests so that in many cases, minimum payments are higher than household incomes. And there is no way out.

Asking for a reasonable way to repay this debt and a way to do so before one dies is not entitled behavior. It is called being responsible. American citizens are pleading for what are supposed to be Constitutional rights. Students were not given the full story when taking these debts upon themselves (thanks to Congress removing truth-in-lending laws) and they're doing the best they can just to survive.

The term "entitlement" is over-used and does not apply here. What used to be called the "entitled generation" is now becoming the persecuted generation. And this is coming from someone who conducted her research on self-entitlement in higher education.

Anonymous said...

I am anonymous at 11:39

You may use the post as you desire.

Anonymous said...

@anonymous dec 26, I don’t quite agree with you as someone who works in government, so therefore I really do see the benefit of government help. There are things that only government can do and there is a lot that government does well that we take for granted. Government programs are tools. Government policies really are very reactive. If the right people of influence really understood what was going on, government policy and programs would be changed in an instance. .So I see the problem as that influential citizens in general push polices that are well-intentioned like college degrees for all, and the government program/polices that we have in place are a result of those attitudes, a by product.

However, I do ironically have an example that I think fits your point. There is a likely well-intentioned bill about to be introduced in the Indiana Legislature that would incentivize college students that receive the Frank O’Bannon scholarship (about 71,934 students last year) to graduate in four years or less. I apologize that I all the news articles I have read on this upcoming bill are subscription so I have nothing to link yet.

If I understand what I have read so far, I am waiting on the actual bill language to post, then college students in Indiana will be “rewarded” for earning 39 credit hours per year or more so they can graduate in four or less years. The underlying belief is supposedly along the lines that a graduation rate of four years or less is a measure of success of accountable public spending, and that taking more than four years is equivalent to being a free ride.

I think what is potentially the most devastating is a complete misunderstanding of why students don’t graduate in four years or less. The barriers that students are facing that keep them from graduating in four or less years won’t be magically fixed by punitive “incentives” that take away aid if the student is not taking “enough” hours or graduates on a tight time frame. There is almost an underlying assumption that these poor students are simply goofing off and/or just not trying hard enough to finish on the traditional four year schedule. That there could be legitimate reasons for extending beyond four years such as internships, short term job opportunities, work studies, change in majors, family/personal issues, military service, missions, or that a four year traditional education is not the best fit for every student is not being considered accurately.

Poor people especially without the right connections may be the least helped by the credentials, but impacted the most by the enormous college debt of today, poor college students today could really benefit from combined work experience and education to give them connections, but that adds time.

Sadly this has the support of the higher education officials in Indiana, as well as the outgoing Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels and the new Indiana Governor Mike Pence.

Anonymous said...

January 7th:

I, too, am baffled by the idea that taking longer than 4 years to graduate is equivalent to getting a free ride. Seriously? I took longer to graduate because I was working full-time and was doing everything in my power to incur as little debt as possible. Of course, this did not eliminate my need for loans entirely.

It seems like young people can do no right. If we don't go to school, we're labeled as being lazy, stupid or directionless. If we DO go to school but must use loans to pay our way, we're labeled as being free-loading partiers (I'm fairly sure they're receiving this image of college students from Hollywood, not the real world, because I was studying/working so hard that there was no time to even think about partying). NOW... if we DO go to school and DO try to pay our own way, we're somehow not successful because we can't finish in less than 4 years.

You know, I'm not sure why the world keeps calling us the trophy generation. I'm not saying that I need a trophy for my life's decisions but I AM saying that all I'm seeing is criticism. The former generations dove into the system, pulled out what they wanted and are sitting on the side of the pool enjoying their existences while pointing fingers at us and blaming us for not swimming because the water was gone before we arrived.

Anonymous said...

Thank you anonymous January 7 11:23 p.m.

My summary that you mentioned was a paraphrase of a quote from Indiana State Representative Tom Dermody from a The Statehouse File.com article (Franklin College Journalism Students) that seems to be available electronically by subscription only. The main website of the article is http://thestatehousefile.com/

Tom Dermody is who will soon introduce the bill in the Indiana State House of Representatives and is also the chair of the Higher Education Committee, so that makes the bill really likely to pass, and on the surface it sounds so innocent, who would be against students graduating in four years. I think in his own way this well-intentioned. The problem is that way I believe it is being proposed, in punitive “incentives” on the students.

From the article: Dermody says the changes are good for taxpayers, students, and the state. When you’re spending public money,“there has to be accountability. Dermody said. “There’s not a free ride and we need to make sure when we’re spending these dollars to get the best return and that’s having kids graduate college in four years.” The website for Indiana Rep.Dermody is www.in.gov/h20 if anyone is interested.

Also in the Statehouse file.com article, Mary Jane Michalak, associate commissioner for student financial aid at the higher education commission stated “We’re paying for what we value, which is completing in four years, getting good grades and working on an accelerated track.”

Even though this is a bill that is about to be introduced in the Indiana State House of Representatives, they have also stated that this is aligned with what other states are doing, and so that is especially why I want to share this.

I will keep you all posted if you don't mind.

Cryn Johannsen said...

@Jan. 9th - yes, please do keep me posted on this information.

You can feel free to email me (ccrynjohannsen@gmail.com) or continue to post here.

Thanks so very much.

-Cryn Johannsen
Founder & Executive Dir.
All Education Matters

Anonymous said...

Here is an article that I can link to from Time magazine from today, it quotes Purdue University which is in Indiana, but which means my fight even bigger than I realized. I am not understanding the push for 4 year graduation by penalizing students who can have valid reasons for taking longer. The Time article is titled The Myth of 4-Year Degree http://business.time.com/2013/01/10/the-myth-of-the-4-year-college-degree/?xid=gonewsedit&google_editors_picks=true

Anonymous said...

This also may help with some of the background in Indiana for the push for the traditional four year degree completion. Last year in the Indiana Legislature, it was passed that there was a cap of 120 hours required to graduate with a four degree.

I have no issues with lessening the requirements on students, less credits can mean less student debt, and even having colleges helping students in a positive way to graduate in four years.

The problem with the bill coming up in this year’s Indiana Legislature is that it will be punitive “incentives” on students to graduate in four or less years. There is all this emphasis on the dangers if students don’t graduate in four years. Higher education so-called experts have politicians really fearing that they are not spending public money on education wisely if the four year graduation rate doesn’t improve.

I didn’t catch the emphasis on the four year graduation push last year because the legislation was actually helpful to students, but I wish I had realized earlier where this was headed. There are so many so-called higher education experts on board with this and instead of the focus being on graduates can’t get jobs to pay off their student debt and are becoming an indentured educated class, this emphasis sidetracks from the bigger issues, so that the problem is showcased instead as students are not graduating on time of four years or less.

Indiana Daily Student article as reference of last year's bill http://www.idsnews.com/news/story.aspx?id=86312