by Carl Azuz, CNN
(CNN) Vice President Joe Biden and Education Secretary Arne Duncan spoke at a high school in Norfolk, Virginia, on Tuesday. The reason: To discuss student loans and college tuition. If that sounds familiar, it’s because the cost of higher education has been a major focus of the Obama administration.
One of the president’s education goals is for the U.S. to have the world’s highest proportion of college graduates. America is ranked behind Russia, Canada, and several other countries in this category, according to the College Board.
But one of the effects of the Great Recession is that it sent many Americans back to school. Attendance and tuition are up at college campuses across the country, and two priorities of the Obama administration are encouraging this college attendance and keeping tuition costs in check.
Starting in 2014, students who take out college loans will have an advantage: Many won’t have to pay them back in full. Part of President Obama’s 2010 health care reform law limits student loan repayment.
In the years ahead, graduates who go into the public sector (taking jobs as teachers and nurses, for instance) will only have to pay back 10 percent of their discretionary income for 10 years. The government will forgive any remaining balance. And in the private sector, graduates will also pay back no more than 10 percent of their discretionary income for 20 years before the remaining debt is forgiven.
By Dan Brown, Special to CNN
Editor’s Note: Dan Brown is the author of “The Great Expectations School: A Rookie Year in the New Blackboard Jungle,” a memoir of his first year teaching in the Bronx. He now teaches English at a charter school in Washington and blogs on education at TransformEd. Dan Brown did not write “The Da Vinci Code,” and he is OK with that. Follow him on Twitter @danbrownteacher. Tune in to AC360 at 8 and 10 p.m. ET for the special series "Kids on Race: The Hidden Picture”.
I’m white; 99% of my students are black. There are many other classrooms like mine across the country. According to the most recent census data, 84% of teachers in America are white and around 45% of students are not.
My students and I are coming from different places. I grew up in an affluent Philadelphia suburb; most of my students, born and raised in Washington, qualify for free or reduced meals. Both of my parents hold postgraduate degrees; many of my students, growing up in single-parent homes, are attempting to be the first in their families to complete college.
How do I bridge this gap between my students and me?
My high school English classroom in Southeast Washington is a place where my students and I investigate the concept of identity. Since race is a part of our identity, we explore it.