The Green Shadow Cabinet's Department of Education expresses our strong support for the students at Cooper Union who have been peacefully occupying their campus President‘s office since Wednesday, May 8, in protest of the college’s recent decision to end the policy of free education for all students. The new policy was announced by the Board of Trustees on Tuesday, April 23rd, 2013, ending a tradition of over 150 years of free higher education at this private college in New York City. The Cooper Union was founded by Peter Cooper (philanthropist, inventor, and visionary) on the principle that education should be "free as air and water". We agree.
High quality education should be available for all people in the United States, starting with early childhood education and continuing through graduate school. It should be the role of our federal government to provide free high quality education for all. We appreciate U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren’s (D-MA) bill to reduce student loan interest rates to the same interest rates that banks pay to the federal reserve, which is 0.75 percent for a year. However, we must go further and state that education can and should be free for all who are interested and able to benefit from it. Student loans and student loan debt (which has now surpassed credit card debt in our country) can and should be a thing of the past. As many college graduates are suffering under massive student debt that threatens to foreclose on their future, the Congressional Budget Office recently announced that the federal government's student loan program is set to turn about $51 billion in profit. It is a moral outrage that the U.S. Department of Education made more than Exxon Mobil, the world's most profitable corporation, by profiting from the debt that our country's young people - our children and grandchildren - as well as returning adult students, have been forced into by a broken system.
The Green Shadow Cabinet Department of Education affirms that high quality education is a human right and therefore should be provided by a caring and responsible federal government.
We call for tuition abolition and debt emancipation from all existing student debt, which sentences millions of current and former students to years of indentured servitude to the financial industry.
High quality education can assist people in developing their full potential and in making their maximum contributions to their families, communities, and society. We can fund free high quality education for all in the United States simply by increasing taxation of the highly profitable banks and other corporations, many of which pay unfairly low taxes because they benefit from tax loopholes that rob our country of valuable resources created by the people of this country. As a percentage of national income, corporate profits stood at 14.2 percent in the third quarter of 2012, the largest share at any time since 1950, while the portion of income that went to employees was 61.7 percent, near its lowest point since 1966. This is unacceptable and can and should be changed. The wealth of society can and should be used to offer free education on the path to creating the country we all deserve.
Statement of the Green Shadow Cabinet's Department of Education, a section of the Democracy Branch:
- Kimberly King, Secretary of Education
- Roshan Bliss, Assistant Secretary of Education for Higher Education
- Jack Gerson, Assistant Secreraty of Education for K-12
- Todd Price, Assistant Secretary of Education for Education Technology