On Thursday's Boston Public Radio, former Mass. Education Secretary Paul Reville weighed in on the debate about student debt forgiveness, responding to a recent Boston Globe opinion piece by Jeff Jacoby arguing that a student loan bailout from the incoming Biden administration would be “unjust” to the millions of Americans not in debt.
While Reville conceded that he’d need to see a concrete proposal before making a fair assessment, he also said that the idea of abandoning any form of bailout “does not make sense to me.”
“This is a huge burden,” he said of the current glut of U.S. student loans, which total about $1.7 trillion. “It’s overwhelming a great many students from low-income to middle-income around the United States, and having an effect on what they can do to set up their lives.”
One of Jacoby’s arguments, echoed by other opponents of student loan forgiveness, is that such a policy would effectively punish Americans who've already worked to pay off their loans.
"Some of the arguments brought forward, that we shouldn’t do any of this because people have already been through the system, is absurd,” Reville said. "We’ve gotta be improving the system, and we’ve laid this unsupportable amount of debt on hundreds of thousands of people across the country."
Reville lamented, though, that any substantive plan from the incoming Biden adminsitration regarding student debt relief is going to be difficult to execute.
"The challenge of this administration is it’s got a lot of big ideas that are gonna cost a lot of money," he said. "And the politics are not necessarily there to deliver the amount of money that they’re going to need to execute the ideas.”
Paul Reville is a former Mass. Secretary of Education and a professor at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education, where he also runs the Education Redesign Lab. His latest book, co-authored with Elaine Weiss, is "Broader, Bolder, Better: How Schools and Communities Help Students Overcome the Disadvantages of Poverty.”