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Common Sense Solutions to the Student Debt Crisis. Just one of the many many articles and journalists Puffin supports every year. This one in Vogue no less.
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Here’s How to Solve the Student Debt Crisis: Make College Free

JANUARY 13, 2016 1:45 PM
by ASTRA TAYLOR

Sometime in 2008, I got a phone call informing me I had defaulted on my student loans. I had thought I was in a deferment period, but I had moved several times, and I wasn’t receiving the letters in the mail telling me my payments were past due. Seriously past due. As a consequence of the default, 19 percent was added to my principal. A debt that had once seemed merely enormous now appeared astronomical. I felt guilty: This was the punishment I deserved for having done wrong, for having failed to live up to my obligations.

Today, the average indebted new college graduate owes almost $35,000, compared to $23,000 back in 2008. They may be more indebted, but I hope they feel less isolated. After all, the upside of skyrocketing student debt is that Americans are finally admitting that this is a crisis—one that impacts millions.

President Obama acknowledged as much last night, during his final State of the Union address. “We have to make college affordable for every American,” he said. “No hardworking student should be stuck in the red.” He said that his administration had reduced student loan payments through income-based repayment programs, but also that the cost of college simply needs to be cut. He reiterated his commitment to making two years of community college free. “It’s the right thing to do,” he said.

Back when I defaulted, these weren’t issues commonly addressed by politicians or discussed in the news. As a result, I had no idea just how badly the decks are stacked against student debtors. I didn’t know, for example, that the 19 percent added to my balance reflected so-called “collection costs and fees” arbitrarily determined by the lender. I had no clue that, in some states, defaulters can lose their professional certifications and driver’s licenses—professional certifications they probably went into debt to get, and driver’s licenses they need to get to work so they can pay back their loans. Nor did I know that, unlike most other kinds of debt, student loans were not dischargeable in bankruptcy; you can get out from under your credit card bills, but student loans will follow you to the grave. More fundamentally, I didn’t know anything about the way higher education is financed in this country, that tuition has come to replace state subsidies, and that the price of a year of college has increased by more than 1,200 percent over the past three decades.

Too often, even now, college graduates are told it’s their fault if they have a hard time making monthly loan payments: They studied the wrong subjects or chose the wrong school. And sure, I was a stereotypical white middle-class student who pursued an impractical degree. (Perhaps I should have studied compound interest along with critical theory.) But the reality is that student debt is not a problem only for the privileged. The poorest people end up paying and owing the most under the current system, and student debt disproportionately weighs down people of color. Over half of young black households have student debt, compared to 39 percent of their white counterparts.

Given how serious the problem is, it’s about time it got national attention. Not only is Obama talking about student debt, the Democrats are trying to make it a campaign issue—something that distinguishes them from the Republicans and can lure young voters to their side. Hillary Clinton promises to stem rising education costs and reduce interest rates on new and existing student loans. Bernie Sanders’s platform—which, I confess, I much prefer—is more direct. It calls for all public colleges and universities to be tuition-free, which is how many other industrialized democracies, such as Slovenia and Denmark, already do things. What do the Republicans propose? Marco Rubio has suggested letting investors foot individuals’ college bills in return for a share of their future income. And Donald Trump, of course, founded a for-profit college named after himself.

Most of these politicians likely wouldn’t even be talking about student debt if activists hadn’t spent years fighting to raise public awareness on the issue. In 2012, a small group with roots in Occupy Wall Street organized what they called 1T Day, to call attention to the moment student debt surpassed $1 trillion nationally. That number has since ballooned to $1.3 trillion and is expected to increase to a mind-boggling $2 trillion around 2022.

Raising awareness, though, is not enough. Debtors need to push elected officials to actually act, and they need to get creative about it. Last year, working with some of the folks who planned 1T Day, I helped organize the first-ever student debt strike in the U.S. Fifteen people who had been defrauded by a predatory for-profit college chain banded together to refuse to pay their student loans. Soon, their ranks swelled to more than 200, and they were supported by thousands of others who participated in the campaign in other ways. Under pressure from the strike, the Department of Education promised in June to provide relief to defrauded students, though it has delayed the process and set up unnecessary obstacles to relief. (If the Obama administration is serious about addressing the issue this year, forgiving the loans of people scammed by for-profit schools on the Education Department’s watch would be a good place to start, and it has the legal authority to do so.)

When I defaulted in 2008, I felt ashamed. Today, I think debtors should feel outraged. It is perverse to force students into a lifetime of debt just to get the schooling they are endlessly told is necessary. So here’s my education proposal: How about full-scale student-debt cancellation, and the option of public, tuition-free higher education for everyone who wants to attend college?

Education would then be free—free as in free of cost, but also free as in enhancing freedom. We would no longer need to judge the value of a degree by whether or not a person can pay off the debt he or she went into to get it; knowledge could be liberated from the pressure of earning a return on investment. There are many sound economic arguments for reducing student debt and reversing the college-cost spiral in which we are currently stuck. (For example, according to experts at the New York Federal Reserve, student debt is holding back the economy, since young people are paying back their loans instead of buying homes or starting families.)

But the most compelling reason I can find to change course is this: If college didn’t cost a fortune, everyone, not just the privileged, could afford to learn for learning’s sake.

Astra Taylor is a documentary filmmaker and the author of The People’s Platform: Taking Back Power and Culture in the Digital Age. She is a Shuttleworth Foundation fellow and an EHRP Puffin fellow at The Economic Hardship Reporting Project, which supported this piece.

Article from Vogue.com

 
Calling All Teachers, Educators, and the Public:
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Puffin is proud to announce sponsorship of a diverse selection of courses, workshops, lectures and events exploring New York's proud activist history at the Museum of the City of New York.  Topics include New York's leading role in Civil Rights, Women's Rights, Urban Environmental Protest, Art in Activism and more.  Professional development for educators, P Credit and the 4th Annual Teaching Social Activism in the Classroom Conference are just some of the activities.  The events are all held in conjunction with The Puffin Foundation Gallery for Social Activism at the Museum of the City of New York. See the flyer and PDF below for more info or click here to visit MCNY.

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Download this file (MCNY Teacher Programs.Professional Dev.PDF Flyer.2016.pdf)MCNY Professional Development Programs 4331 Kb
 
Puffin presents 2015 Puffin/Nation Award Winner Reverend Dr. William J. Barber II
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Reverend Dr. William J. Barber II, volunteer President of the North Carolina NAACP, is the winner of the 2015 Puffin/Nation Prize for Creative Citizenship. The award will be presented to Rev. Barber at The Nation Institute's Annual Gala Dinner on December 8 in New York City.

Reverend Barber — who pastors Greenleaf Christian Church, a 120-year-old congregation in Goldsboro — is the architect of the Forward Together Moral Monday movement, an alliance of more than 200 progressive organizations in North Carolina. The multi-racial, multi-issue grassroots civil disobedience coalition, which began organizing ten years ago, has met at the North Carolina state capitol for the past two years to protest the gutting of voting rights and social programs, and to rally for economic justice, universal healthcare, LGBTQ rights, labor rights, immigrant rights, and public education.

Taya Kitman, Executive Director and CEO of The Nation Institute said, "Reverend Barber is one of our most powerful voices and innovative leaders in a time when, all across the country, we're seeing the power of people standing together to demand social change. Reverend Barber doesn't just inspire; he builds progress from the ground up. At such a pivotal political moment, we are thrilled to recognize his accomplishments in North Carolina, proud to support his exciting plans to come, and honored to award him The Puffin/Nation Prize."

"Reverend Barber is a leader in the fight for true equality for all and a more peaceful world. His efforts to organize everyday citizens and create a movement to fight discriminatory laws are a true example of creative citizenship," said Perry Rosenstein, President of the Puffin Foundation.

Barber commented, "Years ago down in rural Martin County, North Carolina, I was preparing to go off to college. My father gathered members of our church and community in our front yard and had them stand in a circle. He walked me into the middle of that circle and told me never to forget the people who made me who I am. No matter where life took me, he said, I want you to remember them and to always seek to be a servant for justice fairness and the betterment of society. Though many of them have passed, I have never forgotten those people or that lesson.

"I've tried to give and serve, not for money and titles but for the cause of justice and mercy," said Barber. "I am deeply humbled to receive the Puffin Award. With it, I will be reminded of my father's lesson and remember the people of the community, and try with everything in me to keep on serving so that my living will not be in vain."

Rev. Dr. Barber will write an annual report for The Nation magazine on the state of race, civil rights, and the revival of grassroots anti-racism movements, with the first essay appearing in January 2016. The magazine published similar essays by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. from 1961 to 1966. A collection of his Moral Monday speeches — The Third Reconstruction: Moral Mondays, Fusion Politics, and the Rise of a New Justice Movement, will be published by Beacon Press, also in January 2016.

In 2005, Barber was elected President of North Carolina's NAACP, which has become the second largest state conference in the nation. He is one of 64 members of the NAACP National Board of Directors, and is the Chair of the National NAACP's Legislative and Political Action Committee.

In 2006, Barber convened the Historic Thousands on Jones Street (HKonJ) People's Assembly, which champions a 14-point anti-racism, anti-poverty, anti-war agenda. He chairs the Rebuilding Broken Places Community Development Corporation, a nonprofit initiative to revitalize Goldsboro through affordable housing, job training, low-cost child care, and after school tutoring. Rev. Barber is the author of two books: Preaching Through Unexpected Pain and Forward Together: A Moral Message for the Nation.

source: nationinstitute.org

 


Remarks of

Neal Rosenstein

Vice President, Puffin Foundation

Puffin Nation Prize for Creative Citizenship Award to Rev. William Barber II.

December 8, 2015

 

On behalf of Perry and Gladys Rosenstein and the Puffin Foundation, I am honored to announce the winner of this year’s Puffin/Nation Prize for Creative Citizenship.  This annual $100,000 award honors work that challenges the status quo through distinctive, courageous, imaginative and socially responsive work.

Reverend William Barber II, Pastor of the Greenleaf Christian Church in Goldsboro, North Carolina more than exemplifies these goals.  He is the architect of the “Forward Together Moral Monday Movement,” an alliance of more than 200 progressive organizations and vast numbers of the public, in North Carolina and beyond.

This multi-racial, multi-issue grassroots coalition has met weekly at the North Carolina state capitol for the past two years, sometimes with up to 80,000 demonstrators to protest the gutting of voter rights and social programs, and to rally for many issues, including:

Economic Justice

Universal Health Care

LGBTQ Rights

Labor and Immigration Rights & Public Education

Rev. Barber has said (and I quote the Nation so it must be true.) “The history of the white ‘Southern Strategy’ is to keep people divided …. This movement directly challenges that.”

And not only does the Moral Monday movement challenge that divisiveness, it openly recognizes that a truly successful movement must be multiracial, intergenerational and build diverse coalitions of support.

But the Reverend has not only built extraordinary coalitions, he’s also on the front lines himself.  He’s been arrested three times for civil disobedience as he stood for educational and social justice.

Without important work of organizing and resistance like that undertaken by Reverend Barber, we risk becoming apathetic to the rising forces of intolerance and bigotry in our country.

The Puffin/Nation Award is intended to encourage and support the recipients to continue their work and to inspire others to challenge the system and oppression they face and witness in their own lives.

Reverend Barber is a leader in this fight for true equality and social justice.  His efforts to organize everyday citizens and create a movement to fight discriminatory laws are a true example of creative citizenship.

We are honored Tonight to be able to help make this coming year one in which we can share in Reverend Barber ’s victories.  His fight is our fight, and we salute him and stand with him.  Thank you Reverend Barber.

 
Tickets for the Teaneck International Film Festival
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Ticket are available online at BrownPaperTickets.com or in person at Teaneck Cinema and the Teaneck General Store.

Tickets for the Opening Night showing of Althea on Thursday are $10.
All other tickets are $6 in advance or $8 at the door. A weekend pass is $35 (Friday to Sunday).

TIFF Information
201-203-1723
tiff@teaneckfilmfestival.org

Website
http://www.teaneckfilmfestival.org

 
The Puffin Foundation is a proud sponsor of Driving Miss Daisy at the Garage Theatre, now showing through November 8th.
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Driving Miss Daisy, one of modern American Theatre’s most touching and irresistible stories. A treat for all audiences ages 10 to 110, Driving Miss Daisy is a moving story of friendship told with humor, warmth and beauty. Written by Alfred Uhry in 1987 as a tribute to his Atlanta-based family, the play went on to win the Pulitzer Prize for Drama and the Outer Critics Circle Award.  You can purchase tickets at http://garagetheatre.org/.

 
The Garage Theatre 2015
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http://thegaragetheatre.org/

Fall 2015 Schedule

HOLIDAY MELODRAMA
ROD MCGIRDLEBUTT STRIKES BACK OR
THE SUN SETS ON THE CYCLONE RACER ONE LAST TIME
WRITTEN & DIRECTED BY JAMIE SWEET
DECEMBER 4TH – DECEMBER 19TH

 
The Fight for a Living Wage
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Puffin is proud to present a special event:  The New New York Activists: Living City, Living Wage
Thursday, October 1 at 6:30 pm at the Museum of the City of New York.

New York's economic dynamism has long been a hallmark of the city; for centuries, jobs, and opportunity have attracted people to New York from across the nation and around the globe.  Yet today, many New Yorkers find themselves unemployed or working in unsafe conditions for unsustainably low wages.  At a moment of impassioned debate about the right to a "living wage," join us to hear from a diverse range of activists, scholars, journalists, and entrepreneurs who use organized labor, equitable business models, and the media to fight for a more livable and prosperous city -- for all New Yorkers. Reception to follow.

Kendall Fells is the organizing director of the Fight for $15 campaign, which is funded by the Services Employees International Union (SEIU).

Diana Furchtgott-Roth is Senior Fellow at the Manhattan Institute and was chief economist of the U.S. Department of Labor between 2003 and 2005.

Sarah Maslin Nir is a staff reporter for The New York Times who published an influential two-part investigative series about workplace conditions in New York City nail salons in April, 2015.

Jessamyn Rodriguez is the Founder and CEO of Hot Bread Kitchen, a social enterprise bakery supporting low-income, immigrant, and minority entrepreneurs through on-the-job training and business development.

Dorian Warren is political analyst and MSNBC host.

Georgia Levenson Keohane (moderator) is Senior Fellow at New America and Director of the Program on Profits and Purpose.

 

This event is part of the Museum's Activist New York program series, made possible by the Puffin Foundation, co-presented with New America NYC, and co-sponsored by the Murphy Institute for Worker Education & Labor Studies at CUNY.

 
Puffin Cultural Forum Gallery is Open
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The gallery is open to the public from Tuesdays to Thursdays from 12pm to 4pm.  Appointments can be requested by calling 201-836-3499 or emailing info@puffinfoundation.org

Currently on view is exhibition "Thinking in Spanish." In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, The Puffin Cultural Forum presents works of Josephine Barreiro, Rodriguez Calero, Gabriel Pacheco, and Freddy Rodriguez. Each artist’s unique and personal artistic expression communicates elements of heritage, history, and cultural identity.

The Exhibition will be on view from September 18th to October 31.

 
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