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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 (91-95):
ReadWriteLuv
by Silver Member on Apr. 2, 2013 at 4:15 PM
I don't know how I feel about this one, honestly. I mean, I think this is a dumb idea, but on the other hand I'm kind of glad that states on an individual level are coming up with ideas for welfare reform and trying to act on them, even if they are dumb ideas. At least they are trying to be proactive in some respect.

How do these people get elected? Honestly? Do people have any idea of who these individuals, (all of the state representatives in general), are before they vote, or do they just vote straight party tickets? People get so hung up on the POTUS that they don't pay any attention to the people that really do make the laws and pass the bills that effect their daily lives in their states and communities. I bet 80% of the people here can't name their state reps without a Google search. Spend less time screaming that you hate/love Obama and more time focusing on what is literally going on around you.
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furbabymum
by Gold Member on Apr. 2, 2013 at 4:15 PM

 Well I know my SIL could certainly use the incentive to give a shit about her kids.

furbabymum
by Gold Member on Apr. 2, 2013 at 4:17 PM

 I know in my state a lot of the districts are really low in population. As a result "community leaders" are often elected. These community leaders are usually just wealthy business people. I don't think most people actually know anything about who they are electing.

Quoting ReadWriteLuv:

I don't know how I feel about this one, honestly. I mean, I think this is a dumb idea, but on the other hand I'm kind of glad that states on an individual level are coming up with ideas for welfare reform and trying to act on them, even if they are dumb ideas. At least they are trying to be proactive in some respect.

How do these people get elected? Honestly? Do people have any idea of who these individuals, (all of the state representatives in general), are before they vote, or do they just vote straight party tickets? People get so hung up on the POTUS that they don't pay any attention to the people that really do make the laws and pass the bills that effect their daily lives in their states and communities. I bet 80% of the people here can't name their state reps without a Google search. Spend less time screaming that you hate/love Obama and more time focusing on what is literally going on around you.

 

mhaney03
by on Apr. 2, 2013 at 4:17 PM
1 mom liked this

 


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


 this is what I was thinking, it'll get parents more involved and that can make a world of difference.

MeAndTommyLee
by Gold Member on Apr. 2, 2013 at 4:25 PM

Yeah, great idea.  It's an old twist on `earning your keep.'  It sends the wrong message to a kid, and a very damaging one.  Don' t read better and you don't eat.

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