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Tennessee bill: Welfare benefits depend on child’s school performance

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Tennessee bill: Welfare benefits depend on child’s school performance

A new piece of legislation, if passed, will penalize low-income families in Tennessee by reducing their welfare benefits if their child performs poorly in school.

Sponsored by Sen. Stacey Campfield (R-Knoxville)and Rep. Vance Dennis (R-Savannah), the bill“requires the reduction of Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) payments for parents or caretakers of TANF recipients whose children fail to maintain satisfactory progress in school.”

Should a low-income family’s child not meet satisfactory levels in the subject areas of mathematics and reading or language arts, the family’s welfare benefits will be reduced by 20 percent.

The legislation (Senate Bill 132, House Bill 261) applies to low-income families, with no mention of penalties to middle or high-income families whose children perform poorly in school.

Rep. Dennis told the House Health Subcommittee the measure applies to “parents who do nothing,” reports Knoxnews.com.  Dennis described the bill as “a carrot and stick approach.”

Bill branded ‘discriminatory’

Tennessee state representative Gloria Johnson (D-Knoxville) calls the bill “discriminatory.”

“It’s just one more way to punish families who have fallen on hard times,” Johnson told theGrio. “I don’t believe for a second this will be anything to improve a child’s education.”

As a high school special education teacher, Johnson said this kind of bill is not what at-risk students need.

“To add the responsibility of the family budget on these kids, it’s not going to help these kids.  It’s not going to move them forward,” Johnson said.

“[The bill] sets up a terrible relationship between families and educators,” Johnson continued.  ”It sets up animosity between school and home.”

Johnson recommends after school or weekend programs, such as “community schools” where parents spend time with their children and can see what they are doing and how they are doing in school.

Representative Mike Turner (D-Old Hickory) told theGrio this is just one example of Tennessee legislature that is “trying to set back the working class people.”

Amendments may or may not make a difference

Amendments have been made to the original legislation to exclude students with learning disabilities and those who have an individualized education program (IEP) from being penalized for not maintaining satisfactory academic progress. Instead, special education students will be measured on school attendance.

“There are no amendments that will make this bill okay,” Johnson said. “There just aren’t.”

Further amendments also provide four ways the reduction can be restored once it is applied to a family’s payments.  Attending two parent teacher conferences, eight hours of parenting classes, enrolling the child in a tutoring program, or enrolling the child in summer school are the available options.

“There’s all kinds of loopholes,” Rep. Turner said, noting that homeschooling is addressed in the Senate version but is not addressed in the House bill.  ”No Democrats will vote for the bill.”

The House Health Committee, of which Johnson, Dennis, and Turner are members, is set to vote on the bill April 3.

If passed, SB 132 will take effect on July 1, 2013, just in time for the 2013-2014 school year.

theGrio.com reached out to Sen. Campfield and Rep. Dennis for comment, but our calls have not yet been returned

by on Apr. 1, 2013 at 7:06 PM
Replies (11-20):
afwifeandmommy3
by Bronze Member on Apr. 1, 2013 at 8:22 PM
Sounds like a great way for children to be abused . The parents will hurt the kids because they are pissed about that 20% . A bad home life is a huge factor in a child's grades
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OHgirlinCA
by Platinum Member on Apr. 1, 2013 at 8:25 PM

This is such a terrible idea. 

On a side note, I find it really sad that people are suggesting ways like this to force parents to be responsible about their children's education.  I really don't think it would help much.  Irresponsible parents will still be that way.  It's too much work for some to step up to the plate.

codfish
by Bronze Member on Apr. 1, 2013 at 8:26 PM
1 mom liked this
From all of is in TN...go away Campfield! This idiot comes up with something once a month to embarrass and piss off the citizens of TN. *sigh*
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Fullmoon_Goddes
by Member on Apr. 1, 2013 at 8:29 PM
2 moms liked this
This is not the answer. Working families on PA are often working when school ends. Mandated parent teacher conferences will decrease work hours. Thereby reducing the amount of money they earn which will increase tension at home. If a child is struggles in class that may spark abuse toward the child at home.

Not to mention that welfare and poor performance in school are not strongly related. It is a misconception to assume poor families don't value education. When I visit my local library I see families who cannot afford to buy materials from Barnes and Noble. Families who do homework with their kids. Why would anyone think that just because someone's poor they aren't interested in their kid's school and academics?

This is sick. If legislators want to break the PA cycle, then they should concentrate on reforming education so all children have an opportunity to not only learn but be competitive on a national level.


Quoting pamelax3:IMO this is could go either way! I agree thr child does not need to be stressed, but it will give the parent a reason to be involved with their childs school! And maybe a start to breaking the pa cycle
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quickbooksworm
by Silver Member on Apr. 1, 2013 at 8:29 PM
1 mom liked this

Such horse shit.  I understand wanting some sort of accountibility from recipients, but this is ridiculous.  Kids are stressed with the FCAT already, we don't need to add supporting their families to that load they carry.  If they must link it to education somehow, a good attendance record would be a better idea than good grades.  Not all kids are great performers in school.

DestinyHLewis
by Destiny on Apr. 1, 2013 at 8:32 PM

While I don't adhere to the " one more way to punish these families" statement. This is wrong if the given article is correct, and quite frankly pretty disgusting. 

lady-J-Rock
by Member on Apr. 1, 2013 at 8:43 PM
That is so frigging dumb.
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Lorik1969
by Bronze Member on Apr. 1, 2013 at 8:48 PM
1 mom liked this
This is one of the dumbest things I've ever seen. Who keeps voting these idiots in to office? Yes, I'm sure he loves God and hates abortion (unless his mistress gets preggers) but still, what an idiot! Have they considered that a child in a low income family is less likely to be diagnosed with a learning disorder and therefore more likely to perform poorly in school? What is their plan to fix the schools so that these kids are receiving a top notch education so there can be no excuse for failing? I'm embarrassed to say that I spent most of my life as a Republican. I'm independent now because they just get crazier and crazier.
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Fullmoon_Goddes
by Member on Apr. 1, 2013 at 8:51 PM
I vote for good attendance.

I'm still bitter about the performance bs. My grandmother was dirt poor. I mean she lived in a tin one room house with no running water. (This was during the Great Depression era.) She and all of her siblings were successful. Being poor doesn't mean education isn't valued.


Quoting quickbooksworm:

Such horse shit.  I understand wanting some sort of accountibility from recipients, but this is ridiculous.  Kids are stressed with the FCAT already, we don't need to add supporting their families to that load they carry.  If they must link it to education somehow, a good attendance record would be a better idea than good grades.  Not all kids are great performers in school.


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Lorik1969
by Bronze Member on Apr. 1, 2013 at 8:51 PM
2 moms liked this
I disagree. Parents who aren't involved aren't suddenly going to become interested in the child's education. They'll probably just yell at an already stressed out child to "do better" without providing the tools or support to do so.


Quoting pamelax3:

IMO this is could go either way! I agree thr child does not need to be stressed, but it will give the parent a reason to be involved with their childs school! And maybe a start to breaking the pa cycle

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