It’s a new year, with new laws. And one of those laws is a Tennessee statute that could really hurt area teachers.

The law is listed as 519 SB0551 but it amends TCA Title 3; Title 49 and Title 63. It requires licenses for K-12 public school teachers be denied, suspended, or revoked if student loans are not paid.

This law went into effect on January 1, 2013. It’s the new normal for teachers in Memphis, where city schools would love to have experienced, well-educated teachers in the classroom.

But if the school system is struggling, it can’t pay those teachers very much. And if they aren’t paid very much, those teachers can’t pay back their student loans.

What a strange law, that could ultimately cause an even worse shortage of qualified teachers for struggling school districts. It’s nearly impossible to get an education without student loans, so almost everyone takes some out. Then down the road you could have your license revoked for what? Being poor as a result of teaching our kids?

It’s apparently irrelevant that degrees in education are vastly too expensive for future teachers to afford, and that the universities, banks, and government know this when giving out the loans in the first place.

The question here isn’t whether people should default on their loans – it’s always right to pay back your debts if at all possible. The question is how to become a teacher in this world, when it’s clearly becoming more of a financial and career gamble every day.


If you’re a teacher behind on your student loans and overwhelmed with debt, we may be able to help. Student loans can’t usually be discharged through a bankruptcy, but our Memphis bankruptcy lawyers look at every case with individual care. We want teachers out there teaching, and so we can help clear out all of your other debt so those student loans aren’t as much of a burden anymore. Contact us today to discuss your situation for free with an attorney.

(Photo: Steve Woods)