Higher education must be affordable for the working class, Senator Elizabeth Warren (D, MA) said on Wednesday at a panel discussion hosted by the AFT. “Degrees push us forward, but debt holds us back,” she said, outlining her plans to reform loan financing, scholarship programs, and tame soaring tuition prices. Warren emphasized the need for bipartisanship on the issue, saying that both Democrats’ calls for additional resources and Republicans’ demands for incentives that ensure universities are accountable are crucial to a solution.
Other panelists included Sara Goldrick-Rab, a professor from Wisconsin, Beth Huang from the Student Labor Action Project, and Zakiya Smith from the Lumina Foundation, who provided varying perspectives on the issue of student debt. “Student debt isn’t just a student issue,” said Huang, noting that debt has turned many students into workers who must spend a considerable percentage of their wages paying off loans. Huang also said she believes that unionizing students, especially student workers, is necessary to ensure that their schools and jobs are meeting their needs. Goldrick-Rab built on that idea by pointing out that college degrees are becoming increasingly necessary to employment, “but at an incredible cost,” pointing out that “we are undoing the virtuous cycle through which education creates opportunity,” because of the overwhelming burden of student debt.
- report/photo by Sivan Rosenthal
DC LABORFEST 2022