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NASHVILLE (WATE) - State Sen. Stacey Campfield proposed a bill that would connect a family's welfare payments with their children's school grades.
If a child does not "maintain satisfactory academic progress" or "withdraws from school without good cause," the family's welfare payments will be reduced.
The proposal, or SB132, states students must maintain a grade point average high enough to continue into the next grade, or Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) benefits will be reduced.
State Senator Campfield wants to set the record straight about his newly proposed bill.
"It doesn't do anything with food stamps or take away anyone's food stamps or housing vouchers or anything like that. But what it says is, if a person is receiving TANF benefits, which is pretty much a straight cash benefit, that the standard should be that their children should have to stay in school, and should be trying to stay on grade average," State Sen. Campfield explains.
He says the bill has gotten mixed reviews.
"I've got some people who just think I'm the devil and I'm trying to take food stamps away from people, which is completely ludicrous, it has nothing to do with food stamps, but most people say hey listen, education is the only way to get people out of poverty," added Campfield.
Sen. Campfield says special needs students and those with a learning disability wouldn't be held to the same standard.
Educator and State Representative Gloria Johnson says the legislation is flawed.
"It seems like people are looking for ways to punish people rather than looking for ways to help people progress and because I come from a teacher's standpoint, every teacher knows that if you want to move these kids forward, you're not going to do it by punishing. You're going to do it by giving them the tools they need to succeed, giving their parents the tools they need to succeed," state Rep. Johnson.
She says the plan isn't fair to families in need.
"Putting the burden of whether your baby sister has dinner on what your grades are to a ten year old, to me is unacceptable," added Rep. Johnson.
Sen. Campfield believes there would be no additional cost to implement the bill.
6 News Reporter JESSA LEWIS contributed to this report.
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