Resistance grows to bill tying welfare payments to student grade

Resistance grows to bill tying welfare payments to student grades

Posted:
"We're against this bill because we understand that kids underperform for a variety of reasons," UT student Bethany Faraone said. "We're against this bill because we understand that kids underperform for a variety of reasons," UT student Bethany Faraone said.

By SAMANTHA MANNING
6 News Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - Opposition is growing to a bill proposed by Sen. Stacey Campfield that would cut assistance to needy families whose children do not make adequate progress in school.

Senate Bill 132 would require a reduction of up to 30% of Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) payments unless, "the children in the family attend and maintain satisfactory academic progress in school."

The bill is scheduled for a floor vote in the state Senate on Thursday.

The law has received national attention and Sen. Campfield recently took to his blog to defend the legislation.

"Liberals have fooled people into thinking that they are automatically entitled to other people's money without having to do anything to get it. That any sort of standard of accountability for that money is some sort of 'unfair punishment' on them," Campfield posted on Sunday.

Campfield also told 6 News on Tuesday there were several steps parents could take to avoid losing their assistance if their children did not make enough progress:

  • Attend two or more parent-teacher conferences
  • Attend at least eight hours of parenting classes
  • Enroll child in tutoring program that is successfully completed
  • Enroll child in summer school

"This is the first step to say, 'Hey parents, you've got to be involved. Let's start here and get you involved even if it's just some minimal level,'" Campfield said.

On Monday, Tennessee Democratic Party Chairman Roy Herron came out against the legislation which the group dubbed the "Starve the Children" bill.

"We should be protecting and providing for our children, not starving them because they made a bad grade," Herron said in a news release.

"That just shows they like to keep the kids stupid," Campfield said. "This bill has absolutely nothing to do with any of the eighteen federal food programs."

A group of graduate students from the University of Tennessee are also urging legislators to vote against the bill.

"We're against this bill because we understand that kids underperform for a variety of reasons," UT student Bethany Faraone said.

Faraone is studying social work and believes this bill would further isolate the low-income community.

"What about those middle class families who also have 'underperforming' children?" Faraone said. "Are you going to set up a system that somehow takes away some of their money? It doesn't really make sense to me."

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