Tuesday, April 21, 2009
As I write, there are 25 different gut-wrenching comments from teachers cheated by the Best in Class debacle, here. By the time you read, there may be more. Two big points come through.
First, these people showed up to teach. They showed up to serve our children in the fields that are usually hardest to fill. They're doing important work every day. They're heroes.
Second, Student Loan employees did tell many people the program would last. They did present it as an incentive program. They did encourage people to go into debt, and they did encourage them to defer repayment. They did it by phone, and I think it's very likely they did by e-mail, letter, and brochure.
That means there's no fine print excuse. Yesterday, I thought there was, and I was wrong. I was also wrong to think the borrowers had misunderstood. They were diligent, checked the offer in multiple ways, and understood it correctly.
The borrowers are owed the loan repayment, just as they say they are.
In 2007-08, the repayment cost a bit more than $4 million. Add in nurses and public defenders, and the total was just over $7 million. The price tag will be higher with an added year of hard-working people factored in--but not vastly higher. The money must be found, either in the reserves held by the Student Loan People or in the state's general fund.
If we can't afford honor and roads, I choose honor. If we can't afford state parks and honor, honor wins. If we can't afford economic incentives, honor again. We owe, and we have to pay.
Once we admit that, this problem is completely within our power to solve, even in a terribly difficult budget situation. Let's get it done.