Teachers are drowning in debt

Teachers are drowning in debt

America’s teachers have been on the front lines of the Covid-19 pandemic, returning to classrooms at a time when the Delta variant is surging across the country. While they should be focused on staying healthy and teaching, many teachers also face staggering student loan debt. As Nic Querolo, Olivia Rockeman and Madison Paglia report for Bloomberg City Lab, many teachers will face financial hardship when the student loan repayments moratorium expires at the end of this year. 

Come February, an estimated one in four of the country’s 8.1 million educators will start making payments on their roughly $105 billion in outstanding student loans again after a moratorium ends. The burden is the heaviest for young teachers and Black teachers, who take on significantly more debt than other race groups. … Outstanding balances for teachers from pre-kindergarten to college education average $58,700, according to a July report from the National Education Association. (That’s close to the annual salary of the average teacher). More than one in eight owe more than $105,000, NEA data show, jeopardizing their ability to build up savings. 

Ida makes the case for infrastructure
Louisiana Sen. Bill Cassidy has been a driving force behind the $1.1 billion infrastructure bill that passed the Senate recently with 69 bipartisan votes and now awaits action in the lower chamber. In a letter to The Advocate, Cassidy writes that Congress needs to act in a similar bipartisan fashion to pass a comprehensive disaster relief package, but that Louisiana’s long-term resilience depends on the kinds of investments that are contained in the infrastructure bill. 

When it comes to storms, Louisiana understands how important flood mitigation and coastal restoration are. We have developed strategies that have become a model for communities around the world. … Of the $17 billion for the Army Corps of Engineers in this bill, $2.55 billion is specifically for Coastal Storm Risk Management and Hurricane and Storm Damage Reduction projects targeting states such as Louisiana that have been impacted by federally declared disasters over the last six years. 

Louisianans should fight for assistance
State Farm, Louisiana’s largest property insurer, is refusing to cover evacuation costs for policyholders who were not ordered to evacuate. Other insurers, including Allstate and USAA, have agreed to waive similar clauses so that Louisianans who fled to escape Hurricane Ida can be reimbursed. Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon says consumers should be prepared to fight their insurers to make sure they collect what is owed. The Advocate’s Anthony Mcauley reports:

The insurance costs for Hurricane Ida will not be tallied for some months to come. But catastrophe modelling firms such as AIR Worldwide and Karen Clark & Co. estimate them at $18 billion to $30 billion. Louisiana will still bear 90% of those costs, Donelon said. … Already, the Insurance Department has fielded more than 200 complaints from policyholders about Ida claims. That is a fairly typical rate; for hurricanes Laura, Delta and Zeta in 2020 storms, there were 1,700 complaints out of a total of 315,000 insurance claims. As a result of complaints to the Insurance Department, policyholders gained about $50 million, an average of $29,212 per complaint, Donelon said.

Edwards denies State Police coverup 
Gov. John Bel Edwards’ job includes overseeing the Louisiana State Police and holding its top commanders accountable for their actions. Which is why his comments this week about the 2019 death of Ronald Greene, a Black motorist, at the hands of state troopers are significant. Police insisted for months that Greene died from injuries in a car crash. But body cam video unearthed by the Associated Press showed troopers using pepper spray, stun guns and excessive force against Greene, who was not resisting. Speaking on his monthly radio show, Edwards denied that the police agency was engaged in a coverup, and that video  was withheld at the request of the local district attorney and the U.S. Justice Department. Wesley Muller of the Louisiana Illuminator provides some context:

Troopers said for over a year that the 49-year-old Black man died from injuries suffered in a car wreck, but the Associated Press split the case open when they obtained and published body-camera footage showing troopers beating, choking, and using a stun gun on Greene. The body camera footage also shows the troopers, who are White, spraying him in the face with pepper spray and dragging him by his leg shackles face down over pavement. Since breaking that news, the AP has revealed other aspects of the case that call into question the State Police’s handling of the case. … State Rep. Ted James (D-Baton Rouge), who serves as chairman of the Legislative Black Caucus — a close ally of Edwards — said he was disappointed to hear the governor doesn’t think there was a cover-up in the case. “It’s clear everywhere else across the state that the state police did everything to try to conceal and hide the truth,” James said. 

Number of the Day
15 – Number of Nobel Prize-winning economists who signed an open letter in support of President Biden’s economic recovery agenda. The economists write that investments in “long-term economic capacity” will allow more Americans to participate in the economy and help calm inflationary pressures. (Source: Axios)