Despite massive losses by the candidates it supported, the National Education Association is proceeding headlong this week with its “Degrees Not Debt Week of Action.” The week of political theater seeks to rally support for new laws forcing taxpayers to foot all or part of the college tuition costs for anyone who becomes a teacher.
The NEA has scheduled a slew of events around the country to bring awareness to the quest for college loan forgiveness for teachers, according to a press release the union sent to The Daily Caller.
“NEA’s student members have sounded the alarm for us, as college is so much more expensive than when I attended,” NEA president Lily Eskelsen García declared. “We’re seeing new educators with over $50,000 in student loan debt — way more than their first year’s salary as a teacher and much higher of a payment than they can afford to pay.”
García suggested that “affordable solutions” could include more debt-refinancing options for student-loan borrowers.
The NEA also wants the now-completely Republican-controlled Congress to provide more free federal money and “expand loan forgiveness programs, especially for people working in public service careers like education.”
The federal government already offers the very generous Public Service Loan Forgiveness program, which completely forgives the student loans incurred by qualifying government and nonprofit workers if these special workers manage to stay employed for 10 straight years and make their loan payments each month.
Workers in private-sector, for-profit industries currently enjoy no such loan forgiveness program.
The average teacher working at a public elementary or secondary school in the United States makes about $56,400 per year, according to government statistics. This income would puts anyone who earns it in the top 42 percent of all Americans.
The NEA and other national and local teachers unions suffered massive rejection at the polls in last week’s midterm elections despite pouring over $100 million into congressional and down-ballot races.
One of only a few bright spots for unions was the California superintendent race, the highest-profile and most expensive down-ballot race in the country. Union-supported incumbent Tom Torlakson defeated another Democrat.
Nationwide, unions and their political affiliates got thumped from Colorado to Iowa to North Carolina. There is no way to sugarcoat it. Even in union-loving Illinois, the unions’ preferred candidate for governor took a drubbing.
North Carolina was especially hard.
“While NEA has a vested interest in several Senate races, North Carolina has been a primary focus,” an NEA spokesman wrote in a press release prior to the election. “We have invested resources in this race to make sure the voices of educators are heard as voters head to the polls on Election Day.”
Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, personally campaigned around Illinois on behalf of Democrat Pat Quinn, the sitting governor who lost last Tuesday. On a stop in Moline, she was joined by first lady Michelle Obama.
On Wednesday morning, a few hours before a scheduled “post-election telephone news conference,” Weingarten pulled the plug. The press conference supposed to “provide a brief postelection analysis.”
When she did speak, the union boss tried to shift blame for investing over $100 million in a batch of mostly-losing candidates on Barack Obama.
“The Republicans successfully made it a referendum on the president,” Weingarten said last week, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Revolt against Reid
By Steven Dennis and Humberto Sanchez
Posted at 9:27 a.m. today
Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri told reporters Thursday she would not vote for Sen. Harry Reid as the Democratic leader as the party heads into the minority.
“I will not,” she responded when asked whether she will vote for the Nevada Democrat.
Her comments came as she was entering the Old Senate Chamber, where Democrats are holding their leadership elections.
She did not respond to reporters when asked why, but she has criticized Reid over the years for not doing more to reach agreements with Republicans.
Several other Democrats ran from Reid on the campaign trail, but no Democrat has emerged to challenge his leadership.
On Wednesday night, sources said Reid might add Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts to his leadership team. Democratic Senate candidate Rick Weiland had urged senators to back Warren as a potential successor to Reid.