notes on stu-debt activist groups

DerekStLouisActivst

Debt Stories from Young Activists United, St. Louis

A search for student debt activist groups brought a range of offerings with local public school curriculum targets and even disturbing Tea Party rhetoric.  Search the list at the end of this post to see some of these stu-debt activist sites.

Young Activists in St. Louis  The lack of preparedness among high school students for the sticker shock of college debt is being addressed by Young Activists United StL, a coalition of “young social justice activists in St. Louis.”  They have come to prioritize the need to change high school curriculum to include financial literacy about the hazards of student debt.

YAStL

Like many groups working on student debt, this group’s website also includes the debt load mugshots that have become a widely-used visual tactic of the student debt movement. Picture 3

Tea-Party Hyperpole?  The “Student Debt War Project”  by “parent” Morgan Fisher, includes some useful overview information that captures the magnitude of the student debt crisis.  Disturbingly, his perspective seems to reflect a Tea Party line that singularly blames the federal government and Obama as primary culprits.

What’s left out is any discussion of the underlying role of the financial industry and the trickle-down effects of several decades of cuts to public education (due to a right-wing, Neoliberal “cut big government, cut taxes” ideology) that have caused a massive shift from grants to loans and sharply declining government aid that fueled the soaring cost of higher education.

ObamaBrownShrtsThe site blares inflammatory language: “Obama Brownshirts Violate Student Debt Laws” and “Beating America’s Student Debt Gestapo.” This is standard Tea-Party rhetoric that likens Obama to Hitler – a rhetorical slam that seems filled with inchoate racist enmity that transforms a moderate corporate centrist into a demonic villain; by equating student debt with human genocide, the double-edged racism of this language also trivializes the utter horror of the Holocaust.

This “Student Debt War Project” site from what appears to be a libertarian right-wing perspective suggests the importance of being careful, critical readers: well-informed on the complexity of political issues and the different kinds of ideologies underlying policy proposals.

Student Debt Activist Groups  Here’s a list of some of the leading organizations and websites advocating around the issue of student debt.  A recent blog post in Dollars & Sense offers a surface discussion of the difference of some of these groups.

There’s some overlap and what looks like actual coordination between several groups.  It would be purposeful for there somehow to be a more active, public discussion between these different players to gain a better sense of the underlying differences in political thinking and pragmatic logic.  An attempt to bring some of these efforts together is represented by the final site, I Am Not A Loan which is a joint venture of the Education Trust and a national organizing collective which includes Robert Applebaum.

1. http://studentdebtcrisis.org/ Robert Applebaum’s site

2. http://occupystudentdebt.com/

3. http://occupycolleges.org/

4. http://studentloanjustice.org/

5. http://projectonstudentdebt.org/

6. http://www.occupystudentdebtcampaign.org/

7. http://younginvincibles.org/

8.  www.edudebtorsunion.org/

9. www.iamnotaloan.org/

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