The Blog at CTA

Decrying $12 Trillion in Student Debt, NEA, CTA and Affiliates Press for Degrees Not Debt during Statewide Tour

(Photo above) Lily Eskelsen García, president-elect of the National Education Association, tells reporters in Los Angeles on Thursday morning that NEA, California Teachers Association, the Community College Association, the California Faculty Association, and Student CTA are working together on the “Degrees, Not Debt” program to help increase student aid and reduce student debt. The efforts are being supported by Supt. of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson, who joined the NEA and CTA leaders at an afternoon news conference in Oakland.

With student college debt exceeding an astounding $1.2 trillion dollars, the National Education Association, CTA and its affiliates are launching an ambitious program designed to help reduce student debt and make a college education affordable for all youngsters.

NEA President-elect Lily Eskelsen Garcia, a classroom teacher;  CTA President Dean Vogel, a kindergarten teacher; and CTA Board Member Theresa Montaño,, a higher education faculty member, on Thursday morning told reporters at Cal State Northridge that educators are recommending solutions that include increasing federal need-based financial aid, including Pell Grants.

“It’s not right that banks are making more from a college education than students are,” declared CTA President Vogel. “As educators, we care about our students and their futures.”

The NEA and CTA leaders sketched out some of the Association recommendations for addressing the crisis, among them: 
  • Boosting Pell Grants. 
  • Expanding loan forgiveness programs for those working in public service careers, such as education. Letting students and their families refinance student loans when interest rates fall.  “We allow borrowers to refinance home and cars, but we don’t allow students to refinance their college loans,” stressed Montaño, a professor of Chicano Studies and Education at California State University, Northridge (CSUN) and the voice of the California Faculty. 
  • And increasing state support for higher education, so tuition rates can drop after years of unprecedented increases.  Making college more affordable will help more youngsters go to college.        

During an afternoon news conference in Oakland, the NEA President-elect, who began her career as a cafeteria worker and pursued her own education to become a classroom teacher, joined Supt. of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson in underscoring the importance of higher education affordability.

The educators are urging all Californians to join the effort to help reduce student debt and increase college affordability by joining the Degrees No Debt campaign and signing the on-line pledge at

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