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Letter of the Week—October 31st, 2011

We're mixing it up a little this week—rather than posting a letter to the President, we're posting a letter from one New York volunteer to her fellow Obama 2012 supporters.

President Obama knows that the American people can't wait for the next election—they need jobs now. I couldn't agree more. What the President has already done this week is going to make a huge difference in my life for the better.

I am a substitute teacher and graduate student at LeMoyne College in Syracuse, New York. I graduated in 2010 from SUNY Fredonia, a state school in upstate New York. I went to a state school to try to be responsible and save money rather than going to a private university. I used college as an opportunity to find out what I was meant to do and to find out how my skills could best contribute to society.

It took six years of college and almost $90,000 in both federal and private student loans, but I found my place in society—as a special education teacher. The problem was that while I was doing the right thing, finding out what I am meant to do in life and working my way through college, folks on Wall Street were not doing the right thing and the economy crashed in 2008. In New York State, this resulted in thousands of teacher layoffs. Classroom sizes became larger and funding for many extracurricular activities was cut. It hurt students all across the state, and it resulted in almost zero job opportunities for me and hundreds of other graduates in 2010.

I've applied for about 50 teaching jobs and did so every time knowing that hundreds of other, more experienced candidates who were recently laid off were competing for the same job as me. For over a year now, I have been without a full-time job and without a clear purpose in life. To me, having a job is not about having a nine-to-five—it's about being able to contribute something to my community and my country. It’s about feeling self worth and dignity. Sometimes I feel like there is no hope and with my loan payments looming in the near future—I think about giving up this silly dream of being a teacher and finding whatever part-time job I can. But then I would be giving up on helping kids learn.

This Wednesday, President Obama took action and showed me that my country wants me to stick with being a teacher. What he did will mean that when I get a teaching job, I will be able to consolidate my federal loans and they will be capped at 10% of my income. After 10 years, whatever is left in loan debt will be forgiven. I was planning on it taking my whole life to pay back my loans.

We still have progress to make. President Obama tried to pass a provision of the American Jobs Act that would have supported over 400,000 teacher jobs. The bill was blocked by the Republicans in the Senate. We need for the American Jobs Act to become law. I still don't know how long it will take for me to find a job, but I know that President Obama is the only candidate for President who will be fighting for me. That’s why I will fight for his re-election, and I need you to do the same.

—Abigail, New York

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