Tennessee State Sen. Stacey Campfield (R-Knoxville) has proposed a bill that would cut welfare benefits by 30 percent to families whose children fail to make "satisfactory academic progress" in school.
Campfield claims that penalizing families based on their children's grades is a step toward "breaking the cycle of poverty," reports KnoxNews.com.
Campfield told KnoxNews.com: "We've set the tone [through legislation] to push and improve teachers and schools. Now is the time to push those parents. This bill is giving them motivation to do more to help their children learn in school."
"If the family doesn't care if the child goes to school or does well in school, the odds of that child getting out of poverty are pretty low."
Currently, parents (or guardians) can lose 20 percent of their welfare benefits if a child does not attend school. Campfield's bill requires that the child make "satisfactory academic progress" or the family will get a 30 percent cut in benefits.
Linda O'Neal, executive director of the Tennessee Commission on Children and Youth, said: "The maximum benefit for a mother with two children is $185 a month. That's already low. If you take $60 plus dollars away, you're just further limiting people who already have extremely few resources... It's just piling on."
Senate Democratic Leader Jim Kyle added: "How does Sen. Campfield expect a child to do his homework when there is no food on the dinner table?"