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Tuesday, March 26, 2013

"Education to end poverty" bill passes

My bill linking student classroom performance to government cash benefits (not food or housing related) passed both house and the senate committees today. I think the vote was 7 to 1 in the senate and I did not hear the vote in the house.

The bill (as amended) would allow a reduction of cash benefits if a student were failing all their classes to the point that they would not progress to the next grade.

parents would have an out if they

- enroll them in tutoring course (free in every school I know of) or set up a tutoring program on their own,

-enter into a parenting course (also free at several places) or

-attend multiple parent teacher conferences to get the child back on course.

If passed this could be a great step in ending generational poverty caused by lack of education.


  1. I'm not one of your constituents, but I saw this being discussed on Twitter.

    I'm glad this has constructive ways for parents to get their children back on track.

    I don't know if you've ever been poor. I grew up in a well-off family, and then I tried to do college on my own. It was eye-opening.

    When my old roommate and her son were on government assistance back when I lived in Arizona, we all had really crappy jobs with terrible schedules. I was in school. She had to drop out. When her car died, it was a long time before she could afford another crappy old car. Between the job situation, the car situation, the dodgy public transit, the little guy's school schedule and my school schedule, there were barely enough hours in the day. It took three, sometimes four adults to make sure someone was always watching the kid -- his mom, her boyfriend, me, and a neighbor -- and that was with his school and after school programs and daycare. (His dad was not in the picture and good riddance.)

    I hope you ask for safeguards to ensure that even the crappiest job can't penalize someone for time out to deal with the tutoring, parenting course, or parent-teacher conferences. Generally the worse the job, the more stringent the attendance policy, and when you are living that close to the edge, it seems like there's always one emergency after another, even if it's just a day when you call out sick because if you don't you'd rather swallow a bottle of pills than set foot in your hellhole job.

  2. Have you actually contacted schools to see if tutoring is free? With cuts to schools many of the "extras" have been cut. It is difficult to find people who will tutor for free. With the additional burdens being put on teachers many of them do not have the time to prepare for teaching as well as tutoring. Please make sure you contact the schools that will be affected to make sure that free tutoring is actually available.

  3. Generational poverty is a real problem in our country, and I'm glad that Tennessee is trying to change that. But I'm worried that this bill will actually make matters worse for children from families that get welfare. It would be all too easy for a family to blame the child for failing, rather than stepping in to help get the child on track. And in some families, the family may stop providing basic needs for the child that flunked in order to compensate for their lost income. This is an unfair burden to children who are already in a bad situation, and it will only make them less likely to succeed. If you really want to encourage parental involvement in education, maybe it would be better to penalize the parents for missing conferences, regardless of the child's grades. And if you want to encourage success in school, maybe it would be better to offer a small bonus when the child does well in school. But please don't penalize children for their parents' bad choices. They already suffer enough.

  4. Just one question being a parent of a special needs child. All children are not created equal so what provisions have you made for the children that have not been discovered as special needs because many if these children fall through the cracks of the system?


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