Welfare Benefits Tied to Children’s Grades?

Article Source: Stacey Campfield, Tennessee GOP Lawmaker, Wants To Tie Welfare Benefits To Children’s Grades

A+ Rubber Stamp on Notebook PaperThere always seems to be a lot of scrutiny surrounding welfare benefits. Lately in the news there has been discussion about limiting what individuals can buy with their food stamps, i.e. soda, sugary snacks, etc., and even more recently, discussion surrounding preventing welfare recipients from buying lottery tickets, which many view as a luxury item, instead of a necessity. At least one state has decided not to limit what welfare recipients can purchase.The North Carolina House of Representatives recently said a new lottery bill will not seek to prohibit ticket sales to individuals receiving public assistance.

Now, a Republican lawmaker in Tennessee has introduced a bill that would tie welfare benefits ( TANF – Temporary Assistance to Needy Families- to be more specific) to the grades a recipients’ children receive. This proposal brings many questions to mind. Is this fair? How will children’s performance be measured? Should a family go without benefits, because the child does poorly in school?

There is no doubt a child’s home environment affects his or her academic performance. A child with actively engaged parents, a stable home life, and guaranteed necessities (food, shelter, clothing, etc.) is likely to perform better in school, compared to a child who has an unstable home life, parents who are not involved, and a lack of certainty about where his or her next meal is going to come from. How can a child focus in school when he/she is hungry and/or anxious about his/her home life?

So while I would argue parent engagement is critical and yes, parents need to work hard to ensure their children are succeeding academically, I don’t know if tying grades to welfare benefits is the best way to achieve the academic success the state of Tennessee is seeking. It may actually have the opposite effect. If a child does poorly in school and the family stops receiving benefits, the child’s performance may decline even more due to the hardships he or she is experiencing at home. I also see this causing some parents to crack down even harder on their children–to the point of being unrealistic about their child’s actual ability–to ensure they receive their benefits.

What do you think? Should welfare benefits be tied to children’s grades? Will this tactic be effective or just cause further problems?


3 thoughts on “Welfare Benefits Tied to Children’s Grades?

  1. Chantee says:

    This is a very interesting article. I definitely agree with you that it would most likely have the opposite effect on the child’s grade if they don’t do well. There are way too many variables in what makes a child do well in school that it would be way too hard and unfair to do a simple standard measurement to judge all recipients by. Also, it would put pressure on the students to know that them and their family’s well being is dependent on them. No young child should have that kind of pressure and who knows of the long term psychological effects it could have on them.

  2. Victoria Belle-Miller says:

    I agree that children cannot all be measured by the same standard, because each student has a different learning curve. Not every student starts in the same place, and some students have more needs to be academically successful. I also agree that this would place too much pressure on the students, which could hurt their academic performance and affect them emotionally.

  3. dyetpepsi says:

    Well stated Victoria. The attempts by several states to punish people for being poor harkens back to a much earlier time in our civilization when it was believed that there were two groups poor people, the deserving and the undeserving. Those who are deemed undeserving are punished (as if any WANTS to be poor!) There are plenty of angry people
    In this country who are taking out their frustration on the most vulnerable because they’re a convenient target. It’s a bullying tactic. Let’s be clear- the anger is borne of fear, fear that the power structure is and will be changing and the oppressor will become the oppressed. The inevitable is here. No one who has power wants to relinquish it. Stay tuned.

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