Bill linking welfare to grades has critics - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Bill linking welfare to grades has critics

(WMC-TV) – A controversial Tennessee bill linking welfare to a student's performance in the classroom has a Memphis city councilman furious.

Thursday, Shea Flinn tweeted that he was dropping professional decorum and called the bill the dumbest (expletive) thing in the universe.

Sometimes math can be frustrating. But when it is, math tutor Chase Kearl is there to help at Bowie Reading and Learning. Kearl is one way parents and students get help for difficult subjects in school.

But a law proposed in Tennessee could punish parents of failing students on welfare.

"There's so many things going on, so you can't really blame it on something the parent does or does not do," Director of Tutoring Sherri Spain said.

And she isn't alone.

Pamela Atkins is a case manager who sees a lot of poverty and says connecting grades to money for food could be a disaster.

"You're setting them up to fail," she said. "First of all the children shouldn't be responsible for making sure their family eats. Right now the current system gives families up to $189 a month for welfare food assistance.

And that doesn't go far after one trip to the grocery store. I don't think the people in Nashville are close enough to what's going on with us."

But Senator Stacy Campfield says that's not what his proposed bill was intended to do.

Kearl continues to teach geometry, hoping students won't have to worry about a food pyramid too.

"I don't think you can make that general rule," he said. "I just don't think you can say that for all children."

Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam is considering vetoing the measure if it passes. Haslam has said he doesn't see a connection to welfare benefits and students' grades.

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