It’s back to school season, so this week we’re proud to offer a suite of bold opinions on issues facing students, teachers, and the communities they serve.

First, Olivia Alperstein talks about what President Biden’s student loan relief means to her after spending her early years after graduation skipping meals to make payments.

But students aren’t the only ones just scraping by. Bella DeVaan and Rebekah Entralgo explain how low wages and burnout are driving teachers out of the profession. But just in time for Labor Day, they also report on some inspiring labor actions across the country as educators fight to improve their working conditions and save the profession.

Back in the classroom, however, new indignities are emerging. Chase Brown surveys a range of recent actions — from laws putting more armed officers in schools to harsh new restrictions on classroom instruction — that threaten to make schools less safe for teachers and students alike. But she also outlines the districts that are doing things differently and shows how readers can get involved.

Finally, back to school season also marks the approach of school football season. From deep in the heart of Alabama football country, Sherri Ham celebrates the region’s love of football. But she also shows its dark side: football injuries, which can lead to painkiller addiction for vulnerable players like her brother. She explains how lawmakers can help make better addiction treatments available.

Also this week, Paul Armentano highlights the anti-democratic maneuvers some GOP-led states are taking to prevent voters from weighing in on marijuana legalization. And cartoonist Khalil Bendib wonders whether Trump’s going to jail or the White House next.

New This Week…

Biden’s Student Debt Relief Is a Big Deal | Olivia Alperstein
I borrowed modestly, worked on campus, and still had to skip meals to make loan payments — and I was one of the lucky ones.

Schools Won’t Be Safe Until Lawmakers Respect Students | Chase Brown
Lawmakers are filling schools with police and viciously targeting students and teachers. How are kids supposed to learn?

Want More Teachers? Start Valuing Education | Bella DeVaan and Rebekah Entralgo
Too many lawmakers are happy to dole out subsidies for the rich and corporations while resisting pay increases for educators.

Pass the MAT Act to Defeat Overdoses | Sherri Ham
In football families like mine, the game means pain — and all too often, addiction to painkillers. Lawmakers can help.

Pot Prohibitionists Fear Democracy More Than Marijuana | Paul Armentano
Legalization opponents have lost the hearts and minds of the public, so they’re trying to take the public out of the equation.

Trump: Wanted for Espionage and Treason… | Khalil Bendib
… and next leader of the free world?

In Case You Missed It…

You Can’t Fix the Economy by Hurting People | Rakeen Mabud
We can have a strong job market and lower inflation — and we don’t need more painful interest rate hikes to do it.

End the Collective Punishment of Afghans | Farrah Hassen
With innocent Afghans impoverished and starving, the U.S. must return money that’s rightfully theirs.

Biden’s Inflation Bill Is (Mostly) Good News for People and the Planet | Karen Dolan
But it needs to be a first step, not the last.

Kansas Proved That Abortion Rights Can Win in Red States | Alondra Trevizo
Conservatives value their constitutional rights — and young progressives are highly motivated by abortion. Are Democrats listening?

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Peter Certo is the editorial manager of the Institute for Policy Studies and editor of OtherWords.org.

OtherWords commentaries are free to re-publish in print and online — all it takes is a simple attribution to OtherWords.org. To get a roundup of our work each Wednesday, sign up for our free weekly newsletter here.