Commentary

The combination of predatory lending and predatory-employment practices has a historical precedent in the sharecropping system that kept formerly enslaved black families in the South trapped in a cycle of debt. Since most sharecroppers did not have a steady cash flow, they used their prospective crops as collateral to finance loans from the country store, a merchant who faced little competition and could therefore set interest rates as high as 50 or 60 percent.

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The American education system is defined by its decentralization; states, local areas, and schools wield considerable power over how students are educated, from preschool through college. But federal government's role in education is to still make sure American students have both a champion and a protector, an agency dedicated to the notion that when all students are able to thrive, our communities, our economy and our civic life become stronger.
 
This unfinished legacy is what makes the tenure of Betsy DeVos as secretary of education so tragic.
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The prospective testimony of Judge Brett Kavanaugh and Dr. Christine Blasey Ford may be our best chance yet at a democratic process in the nomination of Judge Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. To date, Senate Republicans have tried to railroad through his confirmation, withholding an unprecedented number of documents from the committee and the public. Their cries of urgency ring hollow, as they blocked President Barack Obama’s nominee Merrick Garland from receiving any proceedings for 10 months.

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America’s cash bail system forces cash-strapped people to choose between remaining incarcerated – and possibly losing their job, housing, or custody of their children – or entering an agreement with shady private lenders to pay for their freedom before their court date. Private lender agreements often require people to pay bail companies steep fees and can trigger high interest rates when a payment is late, pushing people already in financial distress further into debt. [...]

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Saturday, June 30th is my last day as president of Demos, a public policy organization dedicated to creating an America where we all have an equal say in our democracy and an equal chance in our economy. I have served as Demos’ president for the last four years, but I’ve worked there for 16 — practically my entire adult life. As I look back on what we’ve built together, I feel called to share some reflections from those years, for each of us who yearns to see our nation live up to its democratic promise.

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In the United States, if you don’t buy a gun for several years, you do not lose your Second Amendment right to bear arms. If you never write a letter to the editor or participate in a street demonstration, you retain your full First Amendment rights to free speech.

The U.S. Supreme Court will soon hand down its decision in Janus v. AFSCME Council 31, which challenges the ability of public sector unions to collect “fair share” fees from workers who are covered by a negotiated union contract but don’t want to join the union. While the case may seem technocratic, its argument is one thread of a well-worn tapestry by conservatives: attacking union rights to thwart working-class solidarity, especially across racial and ethnic lines.

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Twenty-five years ago today, our democracy took a major step forward with the enactment of the bipartisan National Voter Registration Act (NVRA), which opened up the voter registration process to Americans left out of the electorate. Yet millions of eligible voters remain unregistered. To fulfill the promise of the NVRA, states must do much more to ensure all Americans have a voice in our democracy. [...]

The ability of college graduates to pay student loans isn’t simply a matter of earnings. It also reflects wealth — and differences that persist in wealth among racial and ethnic groups.

Ask a group of higher-education policy wonks about the best way to address our nation’s growing student loan problem, and you’re likely to find one solution overlaps party or ideology: Enroll more borrowers in income-driven loan repayment. [...]

In the midst of a Twitter feed alight with stories about police being used to shut black people out of places to eat, drink, exercise, and relax, comes a story about Trump’s Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) using policy to do the same. The federal government is adding new and significant hurdles to communities of color — particularly black people — being able to access housing. [...]

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