U.S. Rep. Tammy Duckworth stops in Carbondale, calls for free education

U.S.+Rep.+Tammy+Duckworth%2C+left%2C+jokes+with+a+student+in+the+Eurma+C.+Hayes+Center+after+school+program+on+Friday%2C+Aug.+26%2C+2016%2C+in+Carbondale.+%22I+bet+your+foot+can%27t+do+this%2C%22+Duckworth+said+while+spinning+her+prosthetic+foot.+%28Ryan+Michalesko+%7C+%40photosbylesko%29

U.S. Rep. Tammy Duckworth, left, jokes with a student in the Eurma C. Hayes Center after school program on Friday, Aug. 26, 2016, in Carbondale. "I bet your foot can't do this," Duckworth said while spinning her prosthetic foot. (Ryan Michalesko | @photosbylesko)

By Bekah Sanders

U.S. Rep. Tammy Duckworth’s campaign trail passed through Carbondale on Friday afternoon.

Duckworth, D-Hoffman Estates, spoke about education affordability while visiting Carbondale’s Eurma C. Hayes Center to discuss the center’s financial situation.

Duckworth, who is running against incumbent Republican Mark Kirk in what has become a heated race for the U.S. Senate seat, talked to children while on a tour of the center, which has had to cut a number of its services because of money constraints.

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The Iraq war veteran who lost her legs in a helicopter attack showed one boy at the center’s after school program her camouflage prosthetic leg.

“Whatever your background — I was on food stamps, I was on school lunch and school breakfast in high school — you should be able to know that there is a way for you to pay for college,” Duckworth said.

Duckworth, who has been an advocate of reducing student loan interest rates, said the first two years of college should be free.

She cited Harper College in her congressional district — where students partner with manufacturers as interns — as an example of how more affordable college could be possible.

MORE: Governor tells Carbondale education program to ‘hang in there’ (PHOTOS)

The manufacturers fund the program, so federal money does not fund the initiative, Duckworth said. 

Duckworth also said she believes federal Pell Grants should be available for more students.

Staff writer Bekah Sanders can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @rsanders_DE.

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