AFT Goes Toe to Toe with Betsy DeVos in Court

Monday, July 15, 2019
On July 11, the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), under the leadership of AFT President Randi Weingarten, filed a lawsuit against U.S. Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, in an effort to restore the rights of public service workers to access an essential loan forgiveness program they are entitled to under federal law.  
The landmark complaint, Weingarten v. DeVos, alleges that DeVos and other members of the United States Department of Education have sabotaged the federal Public Service Loan Forgiveness program (PSLF). The program, signed into law by President George W. Bush in 2007, enables qualifying public service workers to discharge the balance on their loans after 10 years, potentially saving them tens of thousands of dollars.
Statistics show that the United States is in the midst of a snowballing $1.6 trillion student debt crisis. As of March 2019, less than 1 percent-518 individuals-of those applying for PSLF had received it, compared with more than 32 million American borrowers estimated to be repaying PSLF-eligible loans.  
The lawsuit is brought by eight members of the American Federation of Teachers, the national union itself, and AFT President Randi Weingarten. One of the AFT members in the suit is New York City Middle School Art Teacher, Kelly Finlaw.
You can read more about the stories of the hardships endured by Finlaw and others who allegedly have been denied access to the PSLF without cause by clicking here.
In a public statement regarding the lawsuit, AFT President, Randi Weingarten said that the actions of Secretary DeVos and the Department of Education are, "... a betrayal of thousands of hardworking public service workers who have done everything right to qualify. They filled out the paperwork. They made on-time payments for 10 years. They put off life decisions like buying homes, having children and saving for retirement. They serve our communities, day in and day out, because they believe in the importance of public service. They were promised a helping hand to pay off their student loans, only to have that hand yanked away when they needed it the most."

The AFT has set up an online petition through the Action Network to allow people to show their support for the lawsuit and for the fair implementation of the federal Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program. Please click here for details. The National Education Association also has an online petition that allows participants to easily contact their elected representatives and encourage them to address the issues regarding the PSLF.


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