Proposed Tennessee bill would cut welfare benefits when kids fail at school

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Education’s often seen as the key to breaking the cycle of poverty. Do well in school and you’ll find a good job. Fail and you’re destined to a life of being poor.


So it’s understandable that a Tennessee lawmaker would back legislation linking school performance to welfare benefits — until you stop to think about the cold, hard realities of parenting a family under such circumstances.

Knoxville Republican Stacey Campfield proposed Senate Bill 132 in January. It would require up to a 30 percent reduction in Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) — or welfare — payments to parents or caretakers with children who “fail to maintain satisfactory progress in school.”

Despite facing a firestorm of controversy after first suggesting the bill, Campfield has persevered. Rep. Vance Dennis, a Republican from Savannah, Tenn., sponsored the bill in the House. This past week, the billcleared both committees and appears to be on its way toward passage and law.

Campfield explained his reason for the bill in his blog, saying achievement in education is like a three-legged stool made up of schools, teachers and parents. “The third leg of the stool (probably the most important leg) is the parents,” he wrote. “We have done little to hold them accountable for their child’s performance. What my bill would do is put some responsibility on parents for their child’s performance.”

No kidding. A 30 percent reduction would cut the $185 a single mom and her two children receive each month — that’s month, not week — down to $129.50.

Written By: Diana Reese
continue to source article at washingtonpost.com

9 COMMENTS

  1. Which pretty much amounts to blackmailing low-income people. If their kids fail in school despite their efforts, well that’s just too bad right? I guess they’ll just have to quit eating. No problem right? As a famous composer used to say… “Republicans! They are not your friend”.

  2. I shudder to think of the long-term impact on a child whose poor grades meant less food on the table for his family. And the dynamics of the family relationship as a result. Wow. Plant this seed and you will be seeing the results for a generation. I must have missed part 2 of this proposed bill, where families whose children do well in school get extra money. What ? There is no such part 2 ?

  3. So, children who don’t succeed in school, often because of poor nutrition(healthy food is expensive and maybe not even readily available), are getting penalized by making it even harder? I fail to see the logic. But then again, punishing people and saving money while you’re at it ist easy and preferable to actually attacking the roots of the problems. Not that conservatives would be interested in that.

    • In reply to #3 by Okeydoke:

      So, children who don’t succeed in school, often because of poor nutrition(healthy food is expensive and maybe not even readily available), are getting penalized by making it even harder? I fail to see the logic. But then again, punishing people (who can’t retaliate)and saving money while you’re at it ist easy and preferable to actually attacking the roots of the problems. Not that conservatives would be interested in that.

  4. Absolutely horrendously partisan and ridiculous idea.
    There walks a man that has never been either a teacher or poor…or at best a very poor teacher!

    So a kid fails a few exams…family gets poorer…food goes down…clothes…books? what is the gain? and what then for the family?
    Matey has condemned the kid to guilt and despair and performance suffers more and eventually kid is what, written off for life?

    Way to go…how very caring!

    Typical of dumb disjointed thinking championed by fools and egotists and pompous right wing politicians.

  5. God forbid that they actually institute a program to HELP kids with problems that might be contributing to poor grades – problems like poor nutrition, domestic violence, and unemployment. This is just more of the fallout from the reprehensible “prosperity doctrine” so popular among evangelical christians (and Republicans – the two are practically synonymous) right now. The basic idea is that if you’re right with Jesus you’ll be blessed with riches and success. If you’re poor it’s your own damn fault because you’re a worthless heretical sinner. And of course we’ve got to punish those slutty single moms by not only forcing them to give birth whenever they have sex but by continually reminding them and their bastard offspring how worthless and slutty they are. Just as Jesus intended, right?
    Too bad there isn’t a hell – these legislators SHOULD roast at maximum temperature for all eternity.

  6. Why is it the right-wing republicans of Tennessee cannot shake the idea: human behavior can best be changed with threats of punishment? Is it the simplicity of purpose or the fear of expending intellectual energy by expressing more creative and effective strategies? Appeal to the lowest common denominator can be expected when there is little intellectual energy to spare and a tradition of religious heaven and hell consequences. A pity!

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