Starving Poor Kids for Bad Grades Is a Completely Horrifying Idea

School child

Hungry? Sorry, honey, you’re failing algebra, so no groceries for you this month! Stacey Campfield, a Republican state Senator in Tennessee, introduced legislation this week that would slash welfare benefits to parents whose kids are getting bad grades in school.

The thinking? Senator Campfield somehow imagines this would force parents to take an active role in their kids’ education. “Nothing motivates people like money,” he explained. Seriously? What an arrogant jerk! As if hunger isn't "motivating" enough. Poor kids need all the help they can get. Oh, and don’t think that he’s pushing for children to truly excel. “We’re not asking children to re-write the Magna Carta,” Campfield said. “A D-minus gets you through.”


A D-minus? So then what’s the point? If you’re really worried about poor children getting a leg up in the world by doing well in school, a D-minus isn’t going to cut it. This seems way more about marginalizing and penalizing welfare recipients than about truly helping poor kids. Why not develop some programs to incent and inspire good grades, if that’s really his concern? Taking money for basic necessities away from poverty-stricken families isn’t going to help ANYONE do better in class.

Tennessee state Senate Democratic Leader Jim Kyle agrees. The bill would “stack the deck against at-risk children. How does Sen. Campfield expect a child to do his homework when there is no food on the dinner table?”

How, indeed?

And please keep in mind we’re not exactly talking about big bucks to start with: The Sentinel reports that, according to a state youth official, a single mom with two kids receives just $185 a month. Tennessee already cuts that by 20 percent if those kids don’t attend school; this new proposed legislation would increase that cut to 30 percent for kids who don't meet the grade requirements.

“For a long time parents have gotten away with doing absolutely nothing to help their children,” said Campfield, who by the way doesn't have kids himself. Wow yeah, let’s cut this single mom’s less than $50 a week to less than $35 -- that will really help!

Think of it another way: What other group of people is shamed or penalized -- or worse yet, starved! -- like this if their kids don’t do well in school? Rich and middle class kids get bad grades too. What if middle-class and wealthy families had, say, certain tax breaks taken away if their kids did poorly in school? Imagine having to send a report card in along with your tax return ... Hey, how else are we going to force lazy rich people to take an active interest in their kids’ education?!

Welfare is supposed to provide assistance to those in need -- and no one needs more help than a hungry child whose parent, for whatever reason, is struggling to put food on the table. Please, let's not make young kids responsible for their families' welfare, okay?

What do you think of welfare cuts based on the kids' bad grades?


Image via ElizabethAlbert/Flickr

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