Bill could link temporary benefits to children's grades - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Bill could link temporary benefits to children's grades

(WMC-TV) - A controversial bill is on the table in the Tennessee State House of Representatives, it links temporary benefits to your children's grades in school.

Families that qualify can get about $50 a month.

There could be more pressure on some children as those benefits may be connected to their performance in school.

A year ago he sponsored a bill to drug test those who apply for state Temporary Assistance for Needy Families benefits.

Now, Knoxville Republican Senator Stacey Campfield is sponsoring a bill that requires a reduction in TANF benefits for parents or caregivers whose children "fail to maintain satisfactory progress in school."

"A lot of times what we're seeing is generational poverty. And parents who care very little if their kid shows up or goes to school or doesn't go to school. We can't have that," said Campfield.

Campfield suggests the bill would encourage parents to encourage their children to do well in school, and in situations where neither would be inclined to do either.

"We need parents to say, 'Hey, it's important that my kid gets up and goes to school. It's important that my kid is prepared for class. It's important that my kid studies and stays and doesn't quit school,'" said Campfield.

Memphis Democrat Antonio Parkinson said he's all for having a discussion about education, but doubts withholding benefits is the best way to encourage children.

"I think there would be some unintended consequences that hit the rest of the family, even smaller children, or even those dependent. (Or) that were dependent on the money, and it's not a lot of money," he said.

Parkinson suggests there is a bigger issue that Campfield's bill does not address.

"There's a root cause to these children either being low in attendance, or you know making bad grades and the important thing is that we find the root cause and we go after the root of that issue," said Parkinson.

But Campfield said he believes family members often are the root cause.

"Doesn't matter the race, the income, the location, the school. Parents who care about their child's education usually have children who succeed in education," said Campfield.

There is no legislative schedule or accompanying house bill at this point.

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