It's a program that helps over 500,000 students nationwide and over 2,000 here on the South Plains, and now it could be eliminated. Learn Inc. has been sending at-risk students in the Lubbock area to college for nearly 35 years, however, now it's one of 48 education programs included in President Bush's proposed budget cuts. NewsChannel 11's Kealey McIntire was at Learn Inc's annual awards banquet, she tells us many have growing concerns.
We researched the issue and found that this is the first time in ten years deep budget cuts are being made to education programs nationwide. Because of that, Learn organizers believe the future of hundreds of children could be in jeopardy.
At the ceremony, the group recognized dozens of students from seventh grade through high school. The goal of the program is to start working with at-risk and first generation college students early to show them they have what it takes to go to college.
Learn officials say the federal government wants to cut funding because they question the program's success.
Learn Inc. Executive Director Eddie Anaya says, "That's the beauty of our program that you can take those same people that came through ten to 20 years ago and they're here and they're going to get up and say, 'if it hadn't been for this program, I wouldn't have the opportunity to be here.'"
Judge Ruben Reyes did just that, he told the group how he had aspirations of becoming a lawyer and how Learn helped him achieve that goal. Just last month, he was sworn in as judge of the 72nd State District Court.
Learn alumna and current Ramirez Charter School Principal Lisa Ramirez also spoke.
Another familiar name, Sheriff David Guitierrez also went through the program.
To find out more about Learn or how you can help or to find out more about the program, call Learn offices at (806) 763-4265.
A government website claims cutting Learn and 47 other education programs could save $4.8 billion. To find out more, click on these links and type "TRIO" in the archive search: (Senate.gov) (Harkin.Senate.gov) (Cantwell.Senate.gov).