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November 1, 2012

News and Tribune letters: Nov. 1, 2012

(Continued)

> SOUTHERN INDIANA —

Teacher: Donnelly better for education

As a public school teacher, I am constantly involved in the quest for education improvement but this elevation, even more so than usual. It is easy to see the detrimental educational policies of Tony Bennett, state superintendent incumbent, and Mike Pence, governor hopeful, but I feel people are less informed on our senate race between Joe Donnelly and Richard Mourdock.

Joe Donnelly fought to make education more affordable for Hoosier families and kids and increased the maximum Pell Grant award by 37 percent during time in Congress. Nearly 90 percent of Pell Grant recipients are from families with incomes lower than $40,000. Pell Grants are these students best opportunity at higher education. Donnelly fought against the Ryan Budget, which would result in higher tuition while slashing Pell Grants, only putting college further out of reach. He cut interest rates on student loans in half. Supported an increase in the $2,500 Hope Credit. Students can use that money for tuition, fees, and course materials. Donnelly believes we must provide both students and employers with the tools they need to compete. We must improve job training programs so that they teach the skills Hoosier employers need right now.

He believes we must also connect business owners with community colleges like Ivy Tech so students are being taught the skills employers need and are looking for. Highly skilled workers will attract and keep employers and good-paying jobs.

However, Richard Mourdock will cut $5 billion from Hoosier classrooms, slash Pell Grants by $72 million in Indiana, a difference in 10,000 recipients, and cut Head Start in Indiana by almost $25 million, eliminating 3,000 enrollment slots. Children who participate in Head Start receive free medical and dental care, have healthy meals and snacks, and enjoy playing indoors and outdoors in a safe setting. In 2014, 200,000 fewer Indiana children may have access to early education, such as pre-school. Over the next 10 years, two million children may be affected.

— Erin Braune, of Jeffersonville

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