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Bunch of troublemakers


You guys are not gonna believe this, but there's some seriously bad fuckery at the Department of Education that was not started by Betsy DeVos! (But it's also quite possible she's helped make the problem worse, which we'll get to.) NPR reported yesterday that a private contractor that administers an Education Department program designed to give grants to help fund teachers' college educations has been converting as many of one third of those grants into loans that the teachers have to pay back, with interest, even though the teachers have met the requirements of the program. How very odd!

The TEACH grants -- that's for "Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education," which really would be "TEACHE," but let's not get too hung up over a perfectly cromulent cutesy acronym -- have been around for about a decade, and offer students grants of up to $4,000 toward an undergraduate or master's degrees in education. If the recipient spends four years teaching in a school that serves low-income students, in a subject where teachers are in short supply like math or science, then that's a nice little boost to teachers who are doing much-needed work. Anyone who fails to meet those requirements within eight years -- say they drop out and found a software company or decide to teach art history at a prep school -- would have to pay the money back as a loan.

And that's where the catch comes in. You see, a whole lot of those grants are being converted to loans, even though the people who received them are dutifully teaching math or science or some other under-served topic in a low-income school. NPR obtained a copy of an Education Department report on the problem (later posted online by the department), and it appears the company that services the loans, FedLoan, has been playing fast and loose with the rules governing when grant recipients are considered not in compliance. Here's the audio version of the story for you public radio nerds.