Tennessee Passes Law Tying Welfare Benefits to Childrens’ Grades in School

What's Going On


A new bill in Tennessee has some advocates excited and some disappointed.  The bill, if it passes into law, will reduce welfare benefits of parents whose kids are not performing well in school.   The bill is being sponsored by two Republicans, Stacey Campfield and Vance Dennis.  The legislation “requires the reduction of Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) payments for parents or caretakers of TANF recipients whose children fail to maintain satisfactory progress in school.”

If the child does not maintain satisfactory progress in math and language arts, the family’s welfare benefits will drop by 20 percent.  The bill applies primarily to low-income families, leading some to say that it is discriminatory. Rep. Dennis refers to the new law as “a carrot and stick approach,” motivating families with both reward and punishment.

Democratic Senator Gloria Johnson says that the bill discriminates against certain families.

“It’s just one more way to punish families who have fallen on hard times,” Johnson told theGrio. “I don’t believe for a second this will be anything to improve a child’s education.”

Johnson says that the added pressure on the child to make them responsible for family finances is only going to make things worse than they actually are.

“To add the responsibility of the family budget on these kids, it’s not going to help these kids.  It’s not going to move them forward,” Johnson said.

The law does possess a few amendments and potential loopholes.  For example, students with learning disabilities are excluded, as well as those with an Individualized Education Program (IEP).   The reductions can also be restored if parents are more involved in their child’s education, such as attending two parent/teacher conferences, eight hours of parenting classes or enrolling their child in summer school or tutoring.

Is it necessarily racist or oppressive to require poor parents to step up to the plate like the rest of us?  When a parent doesn’t care and neither does their child, does it always make sense to reward them for sitting at home and watching TV all day?  Supporters of the law say that it’s time to make a change and try a new approach.  Critics say that this approach is insensitive.





  1. This is definitely not the way to cheat families out of their benefits. If you want to do it do as they do here in indiana where they are trying to put extremely harsh penalties against those who smoke marijuana. Where do we get these people from, our law makers seem to be pretty much retards, here in indiana and in tennessee.

  2. Dumb politicians, tutoring cost money often times at a rate of $55.00 per session. How much improvement can you get from (1)ssion because that is about all a poor parent may afford. Oh, yea I forgot about the (1)time assessment fee of $125.00 to find out the leverl of tutoring a child needs.

  3. There is enough pressure on a lot of these kids just to get home alive without them being responsible for paying the bills too! This is another method to separate and eliminate. More kids will resort to dropping out and engaging in criminal activities to survive. They will quickly be put in jail to die. IJS…

  4. You may be interested to know some kids come to 1st the grade not knowing ABC’s, how to count to 10, unable to speak in a coherent manner. Some don’t even know their given name, can’t print or spell it out.

    Something does need to be done, can anyone come up with a better idea?

    Oh, the benefits’s received are not a right! America is quite benevolent in giving the $$ out to the needy, you will not however find this to be one of our fundamental rights!

    • The only thing this bill will do is cut back welfare payments. Period.
      I agree with Rae – there is enough pressure on a lot of these kids just to get home alive without them being responsible for their family’s welfare. This is not something that will be corrected in a month or two.
      Who is going to pay for the ‘tutoring’? The city? I think not! I made poor grades in math and I would hate to think the amount of money coming into our household fell on the fact that my math grades were not up to par. But I kicked butt in Language Arts. Sooooo?
      And about it not being a “fundamental right”, in some cases owning a book is not a ‘fundamental right’, but this is America. I don’t think this is a good plan.

    • More Government Bullshit

      Greetings James:

      If you qualify for certain benefits, you have a right to getting those benefits. If you don’t get the benefits, that’s would be considered discrimination. There are certain benefits you do have rights to; they just won’t tell you. They’re not in the business to tell you your rights.

      The problem is that some folks commit fraud when it comes to government benefits and everyone that hears about welfare fraud, thinks that all welfare recipients are committing fraud. Therefore, the government makes the welfare recipients scapegoats for a few bad apples. I call this the, “Bad Apple Syndrome”. It’s like most of America’s dumb as laws; a few makes it bad for the lot…another stereotype. People should be tired of stereotypes and it just goes to show that too many people can’t think for themselves and rather turn on the poor because they are receiving benefits that are most needed.

      If government/people want to help children do better in school, then they must give them incentives to do better in school. Schools are the most boring and corrupt mediums of learning. Our government does it all the time by taking BRIBES! I’m wondering who took the bribe for this nonsense.

      My two cents…I hope the government doesn’t take!


  6. More Government Bullshit

    This is the dumbest idea anyone can come up with. Welfare recipients are already cash strapped and implementing such a law wouldn’t do a darn thing to guarantee that a child can keep their grades up. A few dollars less won’t solve anything either for any poor person, they’ll just be poorer.

    What they could do is implement incentives for them to do better. Why can’t they do the opposite? For every, “A or B”, grade a student makes, give the opposite of what you would be taken from them. Most folks are used to be robbed from the government (taxed) but most are not used to being given things for the good works they do. Give a kid a reason to do better and they will. There are countless things that can be done to get kids motivated.

    Government can’t continue to penalize people for everything “they” think is wrong and they have these entire well-to- do folks, who probably have never been on a welfare payroll, agreeing with them. This law is wrong and destructive! How would the person that made this law feel if they had to give money for every child that got a bad grade, coming out of their paycheck? Wouldn’t be such a good law then now would it? Government should be trying to help, not hinder and taking away portions of aid is not going to solve a damn thing. If government wants to cut aid, then dammit, cut aid and stop making excuses to cut aid because of some damn grades. This law won’t solve shit!

  7. Us black folks better make sure that this law apply to white people as well because there would be A lot of white folks in jail, since they make up the Majority of of the folks who is on welfare.

  8. Here’s the thing about welfare,most people reveiving food stamps work.If a person receives child support they don’t get ADCR.Just something to consider

  9. Those welfare beneficiaries that do not like it can get off the welfare system and stop being a parasite on the taxpayers. I think i would like it better that they simply make it a requirement to receive benefits by the parents enrolling in some sort of educational program whereby they are required to graduate from and get a job. Take parenting classes, fiscal responsibility classes and required to participate in their childs school activities.

    • Mr. Arthur Jones Your Computer Newspaper

      I’m loving this idea. The majority of these parents are those of single parent homes. The majority of these mothers got pregnant while in their teens and became grandparent when in their thirties. I’ve worked those cases with MS state Dept of Human Services, as a social worker and a teacher and I’ve seen them. A ten year old boy with a 39 year old grandmother. You figure their mother’s ages. These parents did not finish even junior high school. Because of these desperate lacks of eduction even minor jobs were not open to them. Also on jobs they qualify for, they’re ashamed to compete with their grandchildren, niece, nephew and neighbor’s children for jobs at McDonalds, Burger king, Taco Bell, Wendy’s and such. Educational programs would do much more good.
      Arthur Jones..Editor..Your Computer Newspaper..(FREEPRESS) arthurj877@cableone.net.

  10. Really so what happens if your child has a learning delay. So you penaltilize the parents. I believe parents should step in up in their children learning but this brings harm to the children as well… Wow know who you elect people.

  11. Shawn- who is going to pay for these educational programs you speak of? You? That just sounds like more taxpayer money to me. The recipients if these programs, more likely than not, will not be able to afford to enroll in a program without some sort if financial assistance.

  12. It is interesting that people are saying that the recipients are being cheated out of their money. These individuals chose to bring children into the world and they need to take responsibility for helping them with their education. If they don’t have the talent or skill then work with organizations that can assist their children. If they do nothing and allow the system to take all the responsibility, we have seen how that isn’t working. People always want to blame others instead of stepping up to the plate and helping their own.

    • Well said, The recipient mentality has gotten hard to digest .. Now it’s too hard to help a child to get good grades., And this is while sequestration is in affect in other cities and states are closing schools…

  13. Mr. Arthur Jones Your Computer Newspaper


    I would completely agree with the decision, but realizing exactly why it was passed is the sin of this choice. Caucasian simply don’t realize Ethnic African people only comprise 13% of the USA’s total population. I listen when these Republicans, their mouths dripping with prejudice and intense hatred making statements that Welfare rolls are principally composed of all ethnic Africans. Anyone with even a fraction of an operable brain would realize, even through their prejudice, that those numbers are impossible to be correct. Wake up folks. We may have a biracial President, but racial prejudice is at one of it’s highest levels ever. Previously, “we knew they hated us”, but now they’ve learned “to hate us, while smiling”!
    Wake up folks. The same reason the Republican in congress are catching such righteous hell, and righteously so. They’re like angry children, mad that they’re now dominated by one of a minority they’ve stepped on for years and they can hardly contain themselves. Arthur Jones. editor; (FREEPRESS) Your Computer Newspaper.
    arthurj877@cableone.net. Be blessed, my family. We’re all in this together, no matter how much you hate it.

  14. Mr. Arthur Jones Your Computer Newspaper

    The retired Instructor again;

    For years, in the system and out, I’ve tried to interest school systems in an educational program which rewarded children with what motivates the most, CASH…CASH…CASH. If middle class and lower middle class, and below those economic levels of students realized there was an immediate monetary reward for their grades, I know, without a doubt they’d do better. I taught for thirty six years and I saw the total and complete apathy of the parents. And where else would it go, but to their children. We’re going to have to skip that lost generation and begin working with those who will be paying our retirement and social security. If funds were re-purposed from school programs that simply don’t work, there would be, with corporate sponsors assisting, sufficient funds to do just this. No lengthening the school day. That doesn’t work for children, who would immediately feel they’re being punished. Countries like Japan and England have seen alternative motivation for their students works much more accurately.
    My newspaper does research. Question; why are youth gangs so prevalent among American neighborhoods now days. It’s because our young males have no self image. They have no self confidence. In order to do the things we did, simply like your first sex, these kids are doing it under cover of a gang. I live in Yazoo City, MS. 39194. A couple years ago, just about 100% of a local gang came down with VD. This was because each gang member had had sex with the same girl or girls. You should have seen the line at the health department. In our day, in the 60’s and 70’s, we grew up skinny dipping in the country, with relatives taking us hunting and fishing. We realized our present bodies were still in a state of maturation. We learned about nature first hand on family farms. We saw baby chicks born from eggs, pigs from mature hogs and the like. Today’s young, black males are ashamed of even their own friends seeing them naked. As a results they do, and act out all natural life within a gang persona. English programs start weekend camps in which the children are introduced to skinny dipping, developing confidence in their bodies and visiting local farms. Also, their families are being taught to answer their questions truthfully. It’s a shame to say, but most present day parents would rather their children learn about sex in the streets. Their parents didn’t answer them, and they’re too ashamed to answer their own now. This may sound simple to you, but if you check on Japan, where some of the Shinto services are attended by youth and other males ( even the chubbies)wearing only a white loincloth you could see for yourself, their youth gangs will register approx;1% to our 89.9%. Figures don’t lie people. Get wise and let’s love, respect and raise our children. We’re all they’ve got and vice versa. arthurj877@cableone.net YourComputerNewspaper (FREEPRESS)

  15. If your child has a learning disability you are exempt..if you decide to colunteer in the classroom, your benefits are restored..if you put your child ina tutoring program, your benefits are restored….if you take 8 hours of parenting classes, your brnefits are restores..what’s the problem here? Who cares what their motivation is in trying to pass this law, this can only help the kids and in turn help us all. What harm can come from parents becoming more involved? Some people think this is punishing the child. I have to say if a child is failing in school and the parent is not even trying to correct the problem, the child is not benefiting from the welfarw check anyway. Honestly, when you care about a child, you care for the whole child

  16. I doubt that any legislator in Tennessee has enough sense to have children tested for learning disabilities or poor vision as reasons for subpar performance in school. If a child can’t see the board, he won’t know what the teacher has written there. If he is learning disabled, he will never perform like the other kids. So should his family receive less in welfare benefits? This is mean-spiritedness, pure and simple. I hope those pushing the bill and their families never fall on hard times.

    • It is a requirement that children have their vision and hearing tested in Kindergarten, 2nd, 4th grade. Children with IEPS will not loose benefits. Silly adult, no clue on Education but loves to act like an expert~

  17. Sorry about all the typos..typing too fast

  18. When you consider the rarely addressed or even considered fact that intelligence is nurtured…ie pregnant mothers must have access to high quality foods and supplements and be in a stress free environment to give a child the basic minimum initial foundation of development. Once a child is born this nurturing most continue directly with the child..good quality foods and supplements, healthcare, stress free environments, exposure to early structured age appropriate learning experiences etc now ask yourself how many poor mothers and children have this? This is to say absolutely nothing about the effectiveness of schools and their qualifications, overall pedagogy and approach to teaching. So we have a solution which further penalizes a family basically for being poor by putting them in further poverty/stress. Yea this is an idea dreamed up and supported by people who are either totally clueless about how children develop, learn and excel or are interested in further crippling poor people. That’s wrong.

  19. Basically, they’re making children work for their food. This is against child labor laws, but leave it to republicans to find a loophole to push their evil agendas.

  20. My question is, what is the penalty for failing students that come from good homes with working parebts not on welfare? This law is very bias.

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