Student Loan Sharks–Finally Relief!

loan shark picI felt like the stereotypical problem gambler in the vise-like grip of creditors (predators,) owing way more interest than I’d originally signed on for. How so? Quite simply, I was at the mercy (there is none) of debt collectors, because I hadn’t paid my student loans.

But I wasn’t some casual drifter who ignored responsibilities. I was a mother who paid a caretaker to look after my young child while I worked. I was a single parent, before the era of deadbeat Dads (so I got no court-mandated child support from my former spouse.) I was raising my child, on an income that often didn’t stretch far enough. My older car broke down, often, and I had all the usual bills.

In my world of extreme priorities, I’d let the college loan debt lapse.

But, as I said: I was no ‘casual drifter.’ I was a teacher.

The harassment began in an unnerving way. The school secretary called me on the intra-building phone:   “Mrs. Allen (my name then), there’s someone on the phone who says it’s ‘critical’ to speak with you.” I nervously asked: “Is it the police or a hospital?” (I feared someone in my family being in a terrible accident.) The office person simply answered: “They didn’t say, but we’ll send someone up right away to relieve you.”

When I picked up the call, a collection agent informed me I was in arrears on my student loan. He asked me how I was going to ‘right the situation.’

With clerks bustling about and students arriving, getting late slips for class, I was pretty much silenced, in any form of protest. I mumbled I’d try to get ‘it’ (payment) to them. He insisted: “When?” I responded “This week.” He persisted: “OK, I’m noting that we’ve had this conversation and you’re stating you’ll have the payment in, by the end of the week” (it was Monday). I mumbled some kind of assent. I wanted this whole embarrassing conversation over.

I walked back to class, feeling bullied and bruised. It took a while for the anger to percolate, but it finally did, as I considered: The collector got me out of class, on the pretext there was some ‘emergency;’ they put me in the awkward situation of answering (or ‘non-answering’ to be more exact) in front of an office full of people; he got me to say I’d pay by the end of the week (when I hadn’t enough money for food.) I knew, even in my compromised state, that this was wrong.

Later that day I spoke with a lawyer friend who advised: “They can’t call and harass you at your workplace. That’s illegal.” He offered even more: “I’ll tell them to cease and desist.”

In the months ahead, I discovered I needn’t repay the loan at all, for a special proviso operated for teachers like me: I taught in a school with a high concentration of low, socio-economic families (on Welfare, reduced-lunches, etc.)

In effect, 15% of my loan was forgiven each year, ad infinitum. All I had to do was put in the paperwork, attesting to such. Had the collector even mentioned this to me? Absolutely not. They’re trained to get in…harass the borrower (even better, if in public forum)…and get out, with a promise to pay by certain date.

Today, I sympathize with students who have burgeoning school debt. Young debtors today never foresaw what they’d face in life. They thought their salaries would sustain them—not leave them without enough to meet their bills, and many still don’t have jobs. They never knew the predatory practices of bill collectors who’ve been amazingly brazen and free ‘til now. Worse yet, some have operated with approval and backing (contract-wise) of the Dept. of Education.

News media finally signal progress with the US Dept of Education’s latest move—to repudiate the predators. My question: “Why’d it take so very long?”

**If you know of someone whom this predatory behavior affects, pls. send this post along to him or her or share your perspective in the Comments section, below…..

The Plot Thickens: Teachers Act Out on Common Core and PAARC

PAARC
Today’s Sheila Resseger commentary in the Providence Journal
is a call to arms for parents, educators, and all who care where we’re going regarding Common Core and the PAARC.

It’s not the first time former teacher Resseger’s weighed in, but her war cry’s gaining traction: Teachers’ union NEARI has determined to inform parents that they may, in fact, opt their kids out of these questionable tests, with no adverse consequences.
Yep…They’re all tired. And sick of what they see as flagrant violation of what we should all be about in the education of our youth.
“The problem,” the way they see it? Business and industry running the show, folks who know little about how students learn but who know a whole lot about how to make a profit. And profit they’re making, as stock watchers readily admit: Pearson (the group who determined Common Core standards and now who design the PAARC test) is zinging off the charts, as a company, as seen in the stock’s growth per this graph representation.

Here’s more, too, on how Pearson got their influential command of US education.

In a Nero-fiddling-while-Rome-burns scenario (OK, metaphor could be better,) schools and teachers quake as they see little ones hunched over tests, trying desperately to answer questions that are muddied and incomprehensible.

Parents and all those in the educational need to end this madness and return our schools to what they should be about–educating our youth.

Not providing the next best return on a Stock Market investment.

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A tangential problem however:  What to do with the kids who’ve opted out of the significant amount of time ear-marked for the test situation? Do they stare blindly into space or should they be allowed to pursue other activities, quietly? No simple answers here.

If You’ve Gotta ‘Do Common Core’…At Least Let This Real Teacher Help

tyler-triplets-grandfather-and-the-truckYou know what teachers’ biggest complaint is? Pseudo teachers telling us how to teach.  You know who I mean…the self-appointed, supposed experts…the ones who got out of the classroom…or never got into it…because they were either being eaten alive by the kids or they feared that fate.

Now, they’ve morphed into education’s resident experts who tell us REAL teachers how to do the job.

This real teacher offers an alternative:  If you must employ Common Core, why not invite a real teacher and her trucker partner to show how CC’s potential might be realized via every child’s interest in the big rigs. How? We teach life skills, geography, science, weather, and history, through our colorful character–the long-haul trucker who traveled America’s highways for 30 years. 

His stories are fascinating and riveting.

First school in Rhode Island test-driving our stories? Fort Barton, in Tiverton, one of America’s select Blue Ribbon Schools for Excellence. Grandpa and the Truck will guest-speak there in mid-May.

This school’s openness to trying this new venture (such as utilizing Grandpa and the Truck books to get across Common Core principles) might be one of the reasons Fort Barton is so special…

We hope others will follow their lead and sign on.

Other news? Grandpa and the Truck will appear as a vendor at the Rhode Island Library Association Conference in Newport, in late May….

Wish to contact us? Go to www.grandpaandthetruck.com.

P.S. Don’t let the pic fool you of the little guys reading the books:  These books aren’t ‘just for boys’…Book 2 features the exciting story of two Rhode Island women who became legends in the the long-haul trucking industry.