My Turn: Brown owes us answers on education reform bill
An imperative part of many students’ success, including my own, is knowing that when we ask a teacher a question, he or she will give us an answer. Their honesty and informative approach shape the way students think and approach learning. Imagine a classroom full of students with a teacher who refuses to give honest answers and instead dodges even simple questions from their students.
Well, that is exactly what we have with former Massachusetts senator and current New Hampshire candidate Scott Brown. Last week, the Concord Monitor reported that while releasing his education plan, Brown refused to take a position on an education reform bill that received bipartisan support in the U.S Senate this month.
The legislation, co-sponsored by our own Sen. Jeanne Shaheen and Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, would have allowed graduates to refinance their loan rates to reflect current interest rates, which are lower than before. His refusal to give a simple yes or no on whether he supported the Shaheen and Warren bill leaves students in the dark about how he can help us.
Homeowners can refinance their mortgages and car loans, so why doesn’t Brown want to give a yes or no answer on how he would have voted to let students refinance their student debt?
Just as we expect honest answers from our teachers, we deserve them from the people who want to represent us in government. If Brown isn’t giving New Hampshire simple yes or no answers now, what do you think he will do after the election?
College graduates in New Hampshire leave school with an average of $33,000 in debt, which is the second highest rate in the country on a per-state basis. This is a real and growing problem for parents and students alike. Part of the issue is the cost of higher education has grown at four times the rate of inflation. This drowns students and families in debt when they are simply trying to better themselves, as education is one of the best investments for the improvement of a community.
Student debt is dragging down the entire economy. Graduating with massive monthly loan payments makes it harder to buy a home and start a family. Banks are less likely to rent to people already struggling with hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt, even if it was to pay for an education.
The Shaheen and Warren bill was a good step forward to fight increasing student loan rates. Fifty-eight Democrats and Republicans voted for it, and only the dysfunction in Washington that requires every piece of legislation to have 60 votes defeated it. The question for Scott Brown is: Are you not giving us a straight answer because you don’t want us to know you are opposed to the legislation? Or are you not answering because you don’t want to be caught agreeing with the two women you have run against for U.S. Senate.
Neither explanation is satisfactory, and both raise questions about how New Hampshire students could trust Scott Brown.
(Callan Maynard lives in Concord. She graduated from the UNH School of Law in May.)