Adam Knight gets political again:

So I’ve discovered a new TV show, West Wing, and I’ve been watching it on DVD.  I never caught it when it was on the air, and I’m glad I didn’t, because I would’ve been waiting impatiently each week for the next episode.  After watching a few episodes last night, and recalling an article I’d read in the Wall Street Journal about student loans, I had an idea.  So I did a little research, and put together the following proposal.

Student Loan Relief for Teachers

With new regulations on credit cards and credit card debt, Americans can now contribute the largest portion of their debt to…(drum roll please) STUDENT LOANS.  In fact, according to an article in the Wall Street journal from August 2010:

source: Wall Street Journal online WSG.com

“Americans owe some $826.5 billion in revolving credit, according to June 2010 figures from the Federal Reserve. (Most of revolving credit is credit-card
debt.) Student loans outstanding today — both federal and private — total some $829.785 billion, according to Mark Kantrowitz, publisher of FinAid.org and
FastWeb.com.”

But unlike revolving debt tied up in credit cards, student loans can’t be wiped away with bankruptcy.  Now look at who’s holding the debt, mostly students from middle class households that aren’t eligible for grants, but can’t afford to pay 100% of their tuition, books and living expenses without loans. Check out these stats from accepted.com :

Recent Student Loan/Student Debt Statistics-
Few students make it out of college debt-free. The following numbers show who is more likely to end up with more debt, and who is more likely to slide by with no student loan debts at all.

  • 17% of college graduates from the class of 2008 borrowed at least $30,500 to pay for their degrees.
  • 25% of ’08 graduates graduated with a debt of at least $24,600.
  • 10% graduated with a minimum of $39,300 in debt.
  • According to the “National Postsecondary Student Aid Study,” 2/3 of college graduates in 2008 graduated with some loan debt.
  • Students from middle-class families are more likely to accumulate debt than lower-income students.
  • Independent students are more likely to accumulate debt than dependent students. 24% of independent students graduate with a loan debt of at least  $30,500.
  • 38% of public four-year college students graduated without loan debt, while only 28% of students from private nonprofit colleges graduated student loan debt-free. Only 4% of students from commercial (for-profit) institutions graduated without student loan debts.

chronicle of higher education.com

Those stats are from 2008 graduates, I couldn’t find the 2010 stats online, but I doubt those rates or totals have dropped significantly with our economy as stagnant as it has been.  But the Data shows that the middle class is baring the brunt of the student loan debt.  Now, quoting stats points out a problem.  I propose a solution.  I see a need for teachers in school districts around the country. Now these school districts have trouble paying teachers cause there isn’t enough money in the budget or the schools are in “high risk areas” and it is difficult to recruit teachers to work there.  What if there was a bill enacted, that allowed these school districts to hire recent college graduates, pay them a lower salary than regular first year teachers, and in exchange erased up to $10,000 of student loan debt for each year spent teaching?

Say for instance a recently graduated mechanical engineer, cannot find a job in his field.  So he works at coffee shop making just a dollar or two more than minimum wage, while living with his parents in Dallas to save money, until he finds a real job.  It’s hard to save money or get ahead when he’s paying off $30,000 in student loans.  Instead if he enrolled in this program, he would take a job teaching math or physics for Dallas ISD.  His salary is $5,000 per year less than other 1st year educators, but he doesn’t have to make any student loan payments once hired by the ISD and enrolled in the program, and has $5,000-$10,000 of his student loan debt erased after his year of teaching.  On top of that he’s such a good math teacher, the students at his school show an increase in TAKS scores in math, he receives an additional $2500 loan deletion bonus or other similar performance based incentives to get rid of his debt.  After three to 6 years of teaching, his student loan debt is paid off, and he can make a debt free start in a career in engineering, or continue teaching.

That’s the bare bones simplified version.  There of course would have to be provisions put in place, obviously there would have to be regulations barring the firing or laying off of tenured teachers to hire those paying off loans and earning lower salaries.  Districts would only be allowed a certain percentage of enrollees teaching, unless demand for teachers was dire.  Enrollees would be assigned schools based on geographic factors and teacher demand.  Developing performance incentives for the teachers in the program would have to be addressed.  Richer school districts, where there was no demand for teachers would not be permitted to hire enrollees to cut budgetary spending, and so on and so forth.

ALSO, an attachment to this proposal would include tax breaks for private corporations that adopted similar student loan repayment policies for their employees.  There are currently tax breaks given to companies that provide tuition reimbursement programs to their employees, however many of these companies lose money, and productivity on these programs, as many employees don’t continue working for them after graduation.  However, if these companies take on the student loan debt of a recent graduate they’ve hired, pay off that loan year by year based on service to their business, then the company would receive a tax credit equivalent to a 75-90% of the student loan debt paid off, as well as an incentive for employees to choose to work for and stay loyal to that company.

All in all; with a demand for qualified teachers, a staggering amount of student loan debt making it harder for recent grads to make ends meet, I think this rough idea could be expanded and implemented. I see this type of program benefiting recent college graduates, school districts in need as well as provide children with educators who are qualified, and motivated to teach them.

 

This is a rough idea of what I had in mind.  What do you think about it? Is this a good idea? Would this be a program that would help improve education in this country?  Click the Feed back button and let me know.

 

Sources:

WSG.com

Accepted.com

Chronicle.com (Chronicle of Higher Learning)