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Senator Schumer Issues ‘Call To Action’ On Teacher Shortage & Student Debt Crisis

Published Tuesday, September 10, 2019
by Sylvia Saunders/NYSUT Communications
Senator Schumer Issues ‘Call To Action’ On Teacher Shortage & Student Debt Crisis

(ROCHESTER, NEW YORK) - With the State’s Teacher shortage approaching crisis level, U.S. Senator Charles Schumer joined with Educators and Union Leaders in Rochester to urge expansion of student loan debt relief and more funding for recruitment and retention programs.

“We ‘have to do this,’” Schumer said. “We’re ‘short’ of Teachers as the school year begins and ‘the shortage is getting worse.’”

The New York Democrat said Congress must force U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos to spend all of the money allocated to the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program (PSLF) the way the law was intended.

“Secretary DeVos – ‘who everyone knows is anti-public education’ – ‘has spent only one percent’ of the PSLF funding,” Schumer said. “One percent – ‘that’s incredible.’”

The Senator said DeVos and her department have unfairly denied public service loan forgiveness to thousands of eligible public servants, citing a variety of shameful technical excuses.

Schumer introduced Brighton High School Physics Teacher Adam Eck, who along with his wife Courtney, who is also a Teacher, were denied PSLF because they had consolidated their loans.

“We just kept getting reasons – ‘one after another’ - saying ‘why we didn’t qualify,’” Eck said. “After twenty-three years of teaching, ‘we still owe’ ($140,000) in student loans ‘and probably won’t be able to retire when we are eligible.’”

Eck said the couple’s son, now a junior in high school, has said he wouldn’t consider going into teaching: “He says, ‘I don’t want to live in the financial world you live in.’”

While it’s been a difficult financial road, Eck doesn’t regret the path he chose: “I ‘love what I do.’  I ‘love’ the kids - those ‘aha’ moments.  ‘I can’t quit what I’m so passionate about.’”

To help people like the Ecks, Schumer is calling for Congress to pass the What You Can Do For Your Country Act, which would expand and speed up the PSLF program for public servants.

Under the bipartisan Law enacted in 2007, borrowers are eligible for Federal loan forgiveness after making 10 years of on-time payments.

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