You’ve probably heard about the student loan debt crisis in America. As politicians have cut state funding for our public colleges and universities over the years, tuition has gone up—way up—and students have been left with the bill. Making matters worse, the economic recovery in Wisconsin has been abysmal thanks to Scott Walker’s failed policies, and the good-paying jobs that would help Wisconsinites repay their student loans just aren’t there. As a result, the average debt per student in Wisconsin is nearly $25,000, while Wisconsin is at the bottom of the Midwest in job creation.
That’s why I’m glad to share these great photos from a recent event sponsored by AFT Local 212 at Milwaukee Area Technical College with you. Members of Local 212 wanted to raise awareness about the trillion-dollar student loan debt industry and share some ideas about what we can do about it. For this event, held on September 8, Local 212 members teamed up with One Wisconsin Now to bring film director Andrew Rossi to campus to screen his new documentary, Ivory Tower, which takes a critical look at the business model that is overtaking American higher education and the trillion dollars of student loan debt that has come along with it. As Local 212 member Brandy Ferrara, an instructor at MATC, put it, “I'm here today to stand in support of student loan relief. I myself have student loans. I teach because I want to educate my students, and I don’t want them coming out into the workforce in the same situation I am. Many of our students at MATC may be the first in their families to seek an education beyond high school, and they get disheartened because they look at their student loan debt and think to themselves ‘Why is it even worth it to go to school?’”
Local 212 members worked hard to reach out to students at MATC for this event, since they’re the ones who will be stuck with the bill for this crisis. David James, an MATC student who attended the event, pointed to the uncertain economy when asked why he was attending the rally: “I’m here to let politicians know the plight students feel right now. We’re the future and right now there is very limited accessibility to an education and a lack of good-paying jobs once you graduate.”
I’m proud of our members at Local 212 for their work to educate their community on this crucial action. Are you interested in helping organize events like this, on student loan debt or other issues, in your community? Click here to sign up if you’d like to stand up with your fellow union members to advocate for high-quality public education and public services in Wisconsin.