Washington, D.C. - Hundreds of people converged in Washington, D.C. on Monday for a national day of action to demand that the Biden administration cancel all outstanding federal student loan debt via executive order. "All it takes is a signature," said the Debt Collective, a debtors' union that organized the "Pick Up the Pen, Joe" demonstration, which was supported by a coalition that includes dozens of progressive advocacy groups and labor unions. Following speeches and performances in front of the Eisenhower Memorial, the crowd marched outside the U.S. Department of Education (DOE). Monday's rally and march in the nation's capital had a simple message for President Joe Biden: Use your executive authority to wipe out the roughly $1.6 trillion in federal student debt that is holding back more than 45 million federal borrowers in the United States.
Department of Education
The Debt Collective is upping the ante in their fight for full federal student debt cancellation with their Pick Up the Pen, Joe! rally and day of action today in front of the U.S. Department of Education in Washington, DC. The event comes roughly a month before the pause on loan repayments is set to expire on May 1. Some White House sources have indicated the Biden administration may move that deadline again or forgive some amount of debt, but regardless, the Debt Collective’s focus remains squarely on eliminating federal student debt in full. A broad coalition of more than 50 community organizations and labor unions from across the country are joining the Debt Collective in the nation’s capital to call on Biden to cancel all federal student debt through executive order.
There’s hope in the air, a scent of spring, anticipation of change, democracy may pull through. Why, then, with K-12 public schools, the broken promise, the dismay? Biden raised hopes when he promised, Dec 16, 2019, that he’d “commit to ending the use of standardized testing in public schools,” saying (rightly) that “teaching to a test underestimates and discounts the things that are most important for students to know.” Yet on Feb 22, his Department of Education did an about-face, announcing, “we need to understand the impact COVID-19 has had on learning …parents need information on how their children are doing.” How the children are doing? They’re struggling, that’s how, doing their best, and so are teachers and parents.
Washington, DC - President Joe Biden has asked Education Secretary Miguel Cardona to prepare a memo about his legal authority to cancel student debt, chief of staff Ron Klain said Thursday, as pressure grows for the administration to address the student loan crisis crippling millions of Americans. Klain said in an interview with Politico that Biden will decide how to proceed once he reviews the memo, which could be sent to his desk in the next few weeks. "He'll look at that legal authority, he'll look at the policy issues around that, and then he'll make a decision," Klain said. "He hasn't made a decision on that either way. In fact, he hasn't yet gotten the memos that he needs to start to focus on that decision."
Betsy DeVos and the Department of Education are facing allegations of possible union busting. The American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) recently filed a complaint against the education secretary’s department accusing the department of unfair labor practices and failing to negotiate “in good faith” with the union. “Secretary Betsy DeVos and her management team are attempting to strip employees of their collective bargaining rights and kill the union,” Claudette Young, AFGE Council 252 president, said.