Politics Nation
updated 4/1/2013 10:47:58 PM ET 2013-04-02T02:47:58

New legislation introduced by Tennessee Republicans would reduce welfare benefits for families if their child performs poorly in school.

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%.

The bill (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.

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 do 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.”

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