Opponents to a proposed Tennessee bill that would tie a family's welfare benefits to their child's grades in school have dubbed the measure "Starve the Children."
In an unconventional demonstration at the capitol Monday, the state Democratic Party chairman brought a table full of groceries into a conference room to make a point.
"Taking food from a child and her family because of struggles in school is one of the worst things a government could do to the least among us," said Chairman Roy Herron.
The bill proposed by State Sen. Stacy Campfield, R-Knoxville, would cut welfare benefits by up to 30 percent for the parents of children who are failing school.
His bill allows parents to get their benefits back if they take certain steps to try to bring up their child's grades.
"There's a charitable organization called Feed the Children. This bill should be called 'Starve the Children,'" Herron said.
Campfield said the demonstration Monday was nothing more than grandstanding, saying the funds his bill would cut are to be used as discretionary money - not food. His goal is merely to get parents more involved with their children.
"They don't want to have any sort of accountability. They just want to keep the kids stupid," Campfield said.
Campfield said the 30 percent reduction isn't based on the overall money a family receives. Rather, he said, it would just be a portion of that, which would go to the parent.
"The idea of accountability on parents actually doing something like showing up at two measly parent-teacher conferences a year is too much for them," Campfield said. "I guess they want to keep the kids dumber than Forrest Gump."
The other things a parent can do to avoid those cuts is attend an eight-hour parenting class or enroll their child in either an affordable tutoring program or summer school.
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