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Groups Call for ‘New Deal for Higher Education’

February 11, 2021

A top union representing teachers and the American Association of University Professors unveiled a campaign Wednesday calling for a “New Deal for Higher Education,” including a massive federal investment in colleges and universities as well as Congress’s reauthorization of the Higher Education Act.

Decades of underfunding for higher education have created an “impoverished academic profession” as well as large amounts of student debt and racial disparities in access, said AAUP president Irene Mulvey at a press conference.

As academic programs get slashed during the pandemic, faculty are “stretched way too thin and work for starvation wages if they can find work at all,” she said.

“We need to re-envision the Higher Education Act so that ‘knowledge being power’ is not just a province of the rich. ‘Knowledge is power’ means having access,” said Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers.

The groups, with the progressive Roosevelt Institute, announced a platform calling for, among other things, additional funding that prioritizes teaching, research and supporting student success; allowing all students to access higher education regardless of their ability to pay; and ensuring job security, equitable pay and sustainable careers for faculty and staff.

The groups also called on President Biden to cancel $50,000 from the debt of all student borrowers through executive action.

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