Next week, the Department of Education will hold the first in a series of meetings ("neg reg") on Defense to Repayment, the law that says students who were defrauded by their school have a right to have their federal loans cancelled. The Debt Collective will not be participating in this illegitimate process because it is a brazen attempt to ditch rules finalized last year.
Debt Collective members from for-profit schools, including Corinthian, Art Institute, and ITT Tech, have been fighting for debt relief since 2014. Last year after we launched a student debt strike, after the Department of Education felt pressure by Attorneys General and from lawmakers, and after the first round of negotiated rulemaking, the Department of Education agreed that borrowers should at least have a basic process for filing a dispute of their loans.
Now, Education Secretary DeVos, like a child in a playground who doesn't agree with the outcome of a game she already lost, has called for a redo. This means that the Defense to Repayment rules will be scrapped and the wage garnishments and tax seizures will continue. It also means that DeVos will run the Department of Education like a for-profit company, one that is completely invested in the business of privatizing public education and screwing students.
The fact that the Secretary of Education’s brain appears to be fused with that of for-profit college executives and shareholders is not surprising. They all come from the same wealthy economic class. DeVos and her minions in the Department of Education don't believe government has an obligation to represent or to serve people. In her mind, those who were born rich like she was deserve to run the world and profit off our backs leaving us to us suffer. There is a term for this: austerity.
Instead of traveling to Washington again and telling our stories to yet another room full of people who pretend to care, we are going to keep organizing and laying the groundwork for a different system. This struggle will outlast Betsy DeVos.
More importantly, as the neg reg circus unfolds in Washington over the next few months, we will keep organizing, keep growing our numbers and build an organization that can channel the anger that student debtors feel, anger that neither Democrats or Republicans seem to understand. We will fight austerity with debtor solidarity. Statements from debt strikers and former for-profit college student leaders are on the way.