The CP Blog

The Politics of Student Loan Debt By Steve Burleigh


The Politics of Student Loan Debt

By Steve Burleigh

Among the many issues that the Democratic presidential contenders debated last night in Miami was the increasing burden of student college debt in the U.S, which currently stands at about $1.6 trillion. The average debt for college graduates is about $29,000, but the average debt for African American graduates is more than $34,000. Compare this to American auto debt, $1.1 trillion, and lower total U.S. consumer credit card debt which is $1.04 trillion. Years ago, it would have been unthinkable that U.S. credit card debt would be surpassed by college indebtedness. Several of the candidates have suggested various methods for dealing with the problem, ranging from complete loan forgiveness to free college tuition at public colleges, and some candidates propose a combination. One thing all candidates agree on is that paying for these ambitious proposals will require higher taxes. Elizabeth Warren proposes a wealth tax on individuals, and Bernie Sanders proposes a tax on Wall Street transactions. The issue is bound to pick up steam not only in the upcoming presidential primaries, but also in the general election where Donald Trump was forced to pay a $25 million fine for bilking students out of their money in his Trump University scam.

The Washington Post posted a video explanation of the some of the Democratic candidates’ approaches to free college and debt forgiveness. For a slightly more detailed explanation check out this NPR article, Democratic Presidential Contenders Propose Free College and Student Loan Forgiveness.

College debt is an enormous problem confronting voters across the entire socio-economic spectrum regardless of age or race. The current college loan system preys on families who fall into the financial aid income/asset donut hole. They make too much and have too many assets to qualify for need based financial aid, but they lack the resources to pay for a traditional four year college education. What do these folks do? They borrow tens of thousands, often hundreds of thousands, to make college happen for their children. The issue has suddenly moved off the financial pages and landed smack in the middle of the presidential election zeitgeist.

Desperate Housewives


Desperate Housewives

By Steve Burleigh

Most of you know me as an award winning actor/writer/producer whose legacy is already emblazoned in the pantheon of entertainment narcissists and bloviators. But some of you may not know that I am also a well established college counselor, or as we refer to ourselves to sound more legit with rich white folks, independent educational consultant. Pretty hoity-toity stuff. And the last 24 hours has been a real whirlwind. Since the feds made Bill Singer do what Rod Rosenstein only “joked” about doing, i.e., wear a wire exposing the frailties of our most vulnerable population, I‘ve barely had time to cook the books over at my personal Side Door College Admission Foundation. My motto: “If they said n...

I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore!


I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore!

By Steve Burleigh

He smirks, he struts, he spouts, he swaggers. He spurts inflammatory invective; the very definition of ejaculatory rhetoric. He doesn’t respond to events; he emits. He’s not America’s leader so much as a hood ornament for America’s alt-right/anti-literacy/anti-science/neo- racist/gun toting/nativist/anti-welfare horde. He’s a chrome plated anachronism that went out of fashion about the time men stopped reading Playboy for the “interviews”, and Jim Crow was outlawed. He cannot express compassion and sympathy without reading from a crib sheet written by a sycophant. If he were a character in an Elizabethan play he’d be a low comedy, bloviating wart-hog created for the base enjoyment of illiterate groundlings. He would be comical, except that he’s a mendacious and avaricious narcissist who happens to be president. Parodies of his antics on tv comedy shows have become stale as the daily onslaught of his buffoonery has numbed us to the shock-and-awe of it all. It’s not fun anymore; we have to accept that the pendulum may never swing back to intellectual honesty and human civility. His enablers have thrown their integrity and moral compasses overboard as they pander to his ego. Grovel is more like it. Lost in the 24-hour news cycle yak-a-thon is the simple fact that he lost the election by three million votes, even with the help of the Russian government, to a woman who was universally vilified. The guy lost. Fake news!

I wasn’t always mad as hell. Well, I was, but I sublimated my rage. My defense was to put on the work blinders, bury my head in the sand, and tune out the cacophony in my own echo chamber. Just don’t hit the red button; don’t start a war – please – we’ll be ok. I put the brakes on talk radio and started listening to music in my car again, stayed off Facebook, declined to participate in discussions of outrage among colleagues and friends. Anything but It. Anything but Him.

Then came Parkland. Then came the murder of 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Fourteen more wounded in the attack. The killer used a semi-automatic assault rifle he bought legally. The articulate and impassioned pleas for legislative sanity by students and parents in the media, in ad-hoc forums, and in government offices was/is compelling on so many levels. The argument for rational gun control measures demanded by these victims and survivors is undeniable. The courage to come together to speak truth to power in the midst of unremitting grief is inspirational. It’s heroic. It would be epic, if not for the cowardly intransigence of politicians in Tallahassee, Washington D.C., and in the White House.

The killer fired his weapon for six and a half minutes. A week after the attack the Florida legislature voted down a motion to take up a bill that would ban assault rifles in less than three minutes. At a town hall meeting with survivors one week later, Florida Senator Marco Rubio refused to support a ban on assault weapons and said he intended to continue accepting money from the N.R.A. ($3.3 million in his career) and other pro-gun groups. President Trump’s big idea after his White House crib-note “listening session” was to arm teachers to transform America’s schools into hard targets. What about concerts? (Las Vegas) What about night clubs? (Orlando) What about rural churches? (Sutherland Springs) At a White House meeting with a bipartisan group of lawmakers he again pontificated on the guns-for-teachers idea. He says he supports increased background checks but admitted he hasn’t even read the Manchin-Toomey background check legislation that almost passed in 2013. In the face of this public health emergency his answer is to INCREASE the number of guns and gun owners. Brilliant! Let’s give everybody cancer then maybe fewer people will die from cancer. It’s dumb; it’s devious. It’s an insult to democracy; a middle finger to the bereaved.

I’m mad as hell now because the magnitude of the hypocrisy demonstrated by gun-puppet politicians has risen to unfathomable levels. The kids and the parents control the message and the zeitgeist, but these guys aren’t listening. They’re cloaking themselves in a perverted reading of the Second Amendment for material and political gain. Deep Throat said follow the money, but unlike the Nixon cabal these guys are raking it in from the gun lobby right out in the open with no apologies. They are “having a conversation,” and “considering” cosmetic changes that will have little impact on gun violence or assault weapon attacks. Just last week the Florida state legislature passed a two-year assault weapon ban and then – now get this – fifteen minutes later repealed it! Instead, they voted to arm teachers in a “marshal” program. School districts must opt-in to the program.

Here are some U.S. gun facts. Since 2007 at least 173 people have been killed in mass shootings in the United States involving AR-15s and other assault type rifles. Between January, 1, 2013 and February 14, 2018 there were 1,624 mass shootings (4 or more victims) in 1,870 days that resulted in 1,875 deaths and 6,848 wounded. According to a 2015 Harvard University/Northeastern University study, the most definitive portrait of U.S. gun ownership in two decades, Americans own an estimated 265 million guns, more than one gun for every American adult. The survey estimates that 133 million of these guns are concentrated in the hands of just 3% of American adults – a group of super-owners who have amassed an average of 17 guns each. The median gun owner owns two guns, 8 percent of all gun owners own 10 or more guns, and these owners account for about 40 percent of the gun stock. One in every three Americans—including one in three children—currently live in homes with firearms. Twenty-two percent of current U.S. gun owners who acquired a gun within the past two years did so without background checks.

Will the passion and resolve of the Parkland survivors move the hypocrites to act morally rather than venally? Will jaded politicians muster the courage to defy their hood ornament and rid us of this proliferation of assault weaponry. Will they tell him it’s insane to put loaded weapons in the hands of 3.2 million teachers in 98,200 public schools who are there to educate 51 million students? Will they defy him and the NRA for the kids? Will they do it for the LGBT community? Will they do it for concert goers? The office workers? Can they be moved to do more than paper the issue over with a little window dressing and call it solved? Will they act to end the epidemic?

Will anyone act to make America safe? The tectonic plates may be shifting. The passionate eloquence of Parkland students and parents has caused a disturbance in the status quo. Tv talking heads are talking to them and taking them seriously. Can the NRA’s political whores be far behind? Just this week dozens of major corporations pulled the plug on their NRA alliances. These include Delta Airlines, United Airlines; the Hertz, Avis, Alamo, Enterprise, and National car rental companies; First National Bank of Omaha; Allied Van Lines, North American Van Lines; Starkey Hearing Technologies; Met Life; Chubb; TruCar; SimpliSafe Home Security; Symantec; Wyndham Worldwide; and Best Western.

It’s time. Time for me to pull my angry head out of the sand and take responsibility for the safety of our children and our communities. We have a long history of civil action and, when necessary, civil disobedience to effect moral and political change in this country. I marched, canvassed, and protested the Vietnam War, and it finally ended. I marched in Washington and Los Angeles to protest the Bush Iraq fiasco. I’ve written numerous letters and made calls to members of Congress and the President to end wars and protest unjust policies. But I grew inured to the daily assault on the Constitution and civil discourse. Now - I’m woke. Let’s make change.

On March 24th I will again take to the streets to March For Our Lives to end gun violence and mass shootings; to ban assault weapons, and insist on universal background checks for all gun sales.

I mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore! #NeverAgain

Here are some resources and organizations.
March for Our Lives:
The Coalition to Stop Gun Violence:
Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence: Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence:

Manchin-Toomey Gun Proposal: meter/article/2013/apr/30/summary-manchin-toomey-gun-proposal/

Are private high schools better than public high schools?

Are private high schools better than public high schools? In Los Angeles tuition and fees at the most exclusive non-residential private high schools ranges between $38,000 and $41,000 a year. Annual tuition at the top Los Angeles Catholic high schools is between $17,000 and $20,000. In other words, private high school tuition is comparable to many private colleges, and much higher than tuition and fees to a University of California campus. 2016/2017 tuition and fees for UCLA is about $15,000.

Is private high school worth the price of admission? Do college bound students at private high schools perform better in college? Do they have greater job satisfaction?

Palisades Charter High School senior (and College Pathways client) Clara Eps...

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In last month’s IECA Insights magazine, Jed Applerouth, founder of Applerouth Tutoring Services, wrote a straight forward assessment of the new SAT. He says it will be “the hardest SAT we’ve ever seen and significantly harder than the ACT.” The new SAT is designed to coordinate with the Common Core curriculum, and according to Applerouth, it “may intimidate certain students and drive them toward alternative assessments.” One thing is for sure; it will require educators and students to rethink the test prep timeline.

You can read Jed Applerouth’s article here:

Advising Your Students About the New SAT

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