Reflection by Kenny Fairneny

(Kenneth, Noah, anonymous, Olivia)

Attending the May 20th Rally For Public Education allowed me to hear voices from a number of underrepresented perspectives within the educational system. Many of the speakers at the rally represented underfunded Boston area schools, including several teachers working with students with disabilities. With the 9.2 billion dollar (13.5%) educational cuts from Trump’s Budget Proposal in mind, speakers touched on the ways in which even the current educational budget is insufficient. (Kamentez 2017). The urban school systems they represented tend to be composed of disproportionate numbers of people of color, while also tending to hold less wealth. Further cuts in funding would be especially impactful for racial and ethnic minorities. Cuts to educational funding would also limit the expansion of programs designed to benefit differently abled students. The Rally for Public Education spoke to the need for dissension by US citizens who care about creating a more equitable educational system for all, regardless of race, class, gender, or ability.  

Trump’s proposed cuts to educational funding would impact both K-12 schooling, as well as aid to higher education. As someone who is going to be completing an undergraduate degree next year with over $50,000 in student loans, this loan debt feels like a large and immediate hurdle for my financial life. After Trumps proposed educational budget cuts, college students and their families would need to contend with the defunding of subsidized and Perkins loans (Mulhere 2017). Additionally, Trump plans to reduce funding for work study from $1.1 billion to only $600 million. For non-profit and government workers, Trump’s budget gets rid of Public Service Loan Forgiveness, which forgives debt after 10 years in a government or non-profit profession (Mulhere 2017). Regardless of financial ability, these proposed educational cuts limit the power of family and students, while allowing for colleges to increase their income from unsubsidized, high interest loans.

In hearing from diverse points of view at Rally for Public Education allowed me to think about how Trump’s proposed cuts to education, and the current state of predatory student loan companies, could be affecting those with less financially stable families than my own. Based on the cumulative disadvantages of multiple generations, black individuals in the US tend to face disproportionate financial and social limitations as opposed to whites (Jackson 2013: 335). In combination with these inherent disadvantages, black students “acquire larger amounts of student loan debt and face a higher risk of default than white students” (Jackson 2013: 335). Only 10% of black college students are able to afford college without taking on loans for a bachelor’s degree, in comparison to 31% of white college students. This speaks to the relative importance of loans for black college students who are otherwise disproportionately unlikely to be able to afford the incrementally rising cost of higher education. Further, roughly one third of black college students who take out loans do not end up finishing their degree, in comparison to 9% of white college students. What this signifies is that not only are student loans more financially pertinent for black students, but they also tend cause excessive debt burdens and increased risk of defaulting as well (Jackson 2013: 345). The pre-Trump educational budget already disproportionately favors white students and families in terms of affordability. After these cuts, black students and families, as well as other racial and ethnic minority groups, could be even less financially able to complete a college education. Individuals like Donald Trump and Betsy Devos, who have never participated in the public education process, should be stood against firmly in their attempt to defend the interests of for profit higher education.

 

Jackson, Brandon A. Reynolds. John R. 2013. “The Price of Opportunity: Race, Student Loan Debt, and College Achievement.” Sociological Inquiry. Volume 83, No. 3. August 2013. Pg. 335-368. Available at http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com.silk.library.umass.edu/doi/10.1111/soin.12012/epdf. Accessed on May 28, 2017.

Kamentz, Anya. 2017. “President Trump’s Budget Proposal Calls For Deep Cuts To Education.” NPR Ed. May 22, 2017. Available at http://www.npr.org/sections/ed/2017/05/22/529534031/president-trumps-budget-proposal-calls-for-deep-cuts-to-education. Accessed on May 29, 2017.

Mulhere, Kaitlin. 2017. “Taking Out Student Loans? Here Are 4 Ways Trump’s Budget Could Affect You.” time.com. May 18, 2017. Available at http://time.com/money/4784214/trump-2018-budget-education-cuts-student-loans/. Accessed on May 29, 2017.