A New Welfare Plan to Punish ‘Parents Who Do Nothing’?

stressed child

Should a parent’s ability to provide for the family depend on a child’s academic performance?

Tennessee legislators are working to pass a new bill which will cut welfare benefits by 30% if you have a child who’s currently struggling to meet the attendance and performance requirements at school.

This news has many people outraged!  One teacher said this will put “the burden of the family budget on children’s performance at school … [creating] huge stress on a young person who is trying to do what he can.” The teacher also suggested that this “legislation targets ‘struggling families,’ while there is nothing that addresses higher-income parents who ignore their children’s school problems.”

A Café Mom blogger said, “It's all part of the ongoing public education blame game: Some parents say teachers aren't doing enough, others — both parents and teachers — say there's only so much teachers can do; parental involvement is the key to a successful education. Seems like the purpose of this bill is to force that parental involvement.”

The bill has been passed by quite a few House and Senate committees; and now that a few amendments have been added, it seems Tennessee legislators think this is the perfect “carrot and stick approach” (solution) for “parents who do nothing.”

I think it’s safe to say that, generally speaking, most parents know and agree it’s important to take a very active role in their children’s educations. Communicating with teachers, helping with homework, and doing your best to ensure your child arrives at school as prepared as possible to continue learning could point toward the difference between your child’s potential for academic success or failure.

This won’t just make it a tad more difficult for struggling families to survive; this also threatens what makes a child a child! Children aren’t supposed to carry the burden of their family’s survival. They are supposed to be innocent, carefree, growing and developing children.

Are you angered by this could-soon-be-passed legislation?


Would it lessen your anger to know there are ways for parents to avoid the reductions?

Reportedly, this 30% welfare cut will not apply “if a child has a handicap or learning disability or when the parent takes steps to try improving the youngster’s school performance — such as signing up for a ‘parenting class,’ arranging a tutoring program or attending a parent-teacher conference.”

I have to admit … that makes a TINYBIT more sense because what parent wouldn’t want to do that in the first place?  But there are still questionable holes in this new plan, like what about undiagnosed learning disabilities or health issues? Also, the plan wouldn’t apply to children who are home schooled. So what would stop a parent from saying, “Fine, I home school my children now.”?

Regardless, I think this plan is no good.  If we want more parent involvement at school, this (in my opinion) is not the way to go about it! There has to be a better way, one that doesn’t punish a family’s ability to survive AND highlight a child’s academic failure, at the same time. Do you agree?

What do you think should be done about “parents who do nothing,” regarding their child’s education?

Comment below!

What do you think?

A New Welfare Plan to Punish ‘Parents Who Do Nothing’?

Kimberly Shannon is a wife, a mother, an editor, a writer ... She is always working to find the perfect balance¹! After Kimberly received her bachelor’s degree in Journalism, she worked on two master’s degree programs (Creative Writing, and Marriage and Family Therapy). At various times in her life she has signed up to study Naturopathy, only to back out at the last minute, and humored the idea of returning full-time to the world of dance. Kimberly has also started 10 different children ... More

Tell us what you think!


  1. jamiek says:

    You said this better than I could have! Well done and thanks for the enlightenment!

  2. jamiek says:

    I forgot to mention, schools are requiring kids to have ipads and ipods for reading purposes?? But cut the welfare on families who may struggle paying book fees and supplies as it is….

  3. jamiek says:

    This sounds like another way to cut benefits to an already struggling economy! I completely agree that children shouldn’t have to carry this burden, but I also believe that there are some families out there that don’t help their kids with school! It’s a double-edged sword and there is no FAIR way to weed this information out and it will only hurt those families in need even more! Why can’t we find other places to cut budgets or find other ways to HELP struggling families not make the troubles heavier! As someone that grew up in a struggling family with finances and steady jobs, I even remember worrying FOR my mother and that was hard enough! How can anyone be so cruel when there are several other underlying issues NOT limited to family welfare? Just another way to cut expenses…just like cutting schools and teachers…might as well cut the families off too!

  4. Jennifer says:

    The way I see it’s no good. Face it, obviously these families are getting help for a reason. If a parent is already earning minimum wage and working two jobs just to make it because he or she is an only parent and this child is struggling from the stress of it and it is causing some sort of effect at school, this law will only make it worse. Reducing the amount of help this family is getting could possibly cause even less of whatever time they have to spend with the children due to the fact they will have to find another way to make up for the financial loss.

    Another thing is this: why is there discrimination against those that recieve welfare? I am sorry but there are loads of children in the world that go home at night whose parents probably dont recieve welfare who probably arent spending loads of family time together.

    I understand the parent involvement factor, i really do. However, it is not just those that are recieving welfare that are having problems, it across the board and to limit your vision of it is just WRONG. You want more parent involvement? Make it accessible and make OPPORTUNITIES! Call your parents, get them involved, have a parent luncheon day! More importantly try this, communicate with the parents, get to know them, find out a little more about them and work with it! If you have a parent that could only come between certain times because they are between two jobs, then find a way. Both sides have to meet part of the way!

  5. nichole says:

    i see this being a good, but also a very bad thing. for one, like the artical said, its only for parents recieving aid, what about the parents of children not recieving state aid? do people think that only people on state aid will neglect their childs schooling? because i have personally seen people who could mroe then afford tutors and had more then enough time to devote to helping with homework not do so because they didnt want to. plane and simple. and then comes in something else. it brings up parents paying for tutoring, and teacher conferences. if your already low income and recieving foodstaps, how are you sopost to have the money for a tutor? the schools dont provide one, and you cant pay for one with food stamps. and what about the parent who works two jobs, and is gone weekdays from before school starts, till late in night after the teacher is home with their family? how do they do a conference if they are unable for quite some time to get the time off of work when the teacher is avail for a sitdown? i know those parents exsist, because i was one. we wernt on state aid, but i dropped my daughter off to school, and the sitter picked her up, and i got home between 7 and 9. i was able to do conferences, because the teacher understood and did an 830 one once for me, but not all teachers are willing to do that, or to spend weekends doing conferences either. and what about a child who doesnt do well, and the parents are going to be punished? granted good parents wouldnt do this, but we know evils are out there, but what number of kids will either get the ars whooping of a life time that passes into the abuse catagory, or darn close, or how many will be punished and the cut in bennies, will result in a cut in their portion because it would be "their fault"? are they doing to implement checks to make sure this type of thing doesnt happen?? yes, as a parent, you should do everything in your power to help your child succed the best they can in school. and they should be helping with homework, or finding someone who can if they cant, and its the parents responcibility to make sure the child gets to school on time. and as far as elm age children, its not that difficult. it would be a nice way to discurage the welfair mommas, seing as they are often the ones who dont really care what their child does in school, so long as they dont have to hear it or deal with it. im just worried that people who shouldnt be punished will end up recieving the punishments, and the ones who need it, will do like always, and find a way to cheat the system, because it seems to be what they live to do.

  6. I like the idea, it could help stop neglectful parents trying to make more kids just to get welfare. If they have to put effort into doing homework, the’d rather give up I’m sure. I don’t think it’ll happen though as it seems kids are doing less and less as they’re expected to do barely anything and are rewarded for mistakes.

  7. Kate says:

    I applaud the legislator for trying something new to address academic failure. The focus really is on more parent involvement, which is absolutely necessary and lacking in a lot of cases, but I can see too many parents taking the cut, blaming the child, and making the situation worse without trying anything to help. Most schools already offer tutoring and few take advantage of it. I’ll be interested to see if this bill has any impact.

  8. Being from a low class community myself attending schools with metal detectors and no accreditation, it is evident now the ratio of successful piers are greater amongst those with parents that had little to no involvement in education. I feel there are pros and cons to any new idea that involves coaxing uninvolved parents to invest in the future of their children. So sad to think that as a parent in this situation you would even say to your child "if you do good in school we can afford this or that". A good parent would just make the effort to at least meet the minimum requirement and attend a workshop or a parent teacher meeting. total lack of involvement in your child’s education shows lack of involvement in their future ability to thrive in an era where higher education equals better quality of living. Seems as if this legislation is attempting to improve our future economic situation. It wont hurt to try, and if this doesn’t help, or isn’t passed at all it still sends a message. That something has to be done sooner than later.

  9. GibsonJacobs says:

    So if you’re a single parent, working nights when all these "parenting classes" most likely take place, you’re screwed…
    I grew up in a single parent household. We barely saw mom. She was always out looking for the next get rich quick scheme. I learned to make dinner at 8. If our financial livelihoods rested on my grades… It’s really an unfair burden on the children. Until we can find good parents for all the people who don’t have them and until we can make parenting a full time, paying job, this is ridiculous. Your answer is to starve under performing children of indifferent parents? Or to punish parents who are working to get off of welfare?

  10. Sonia says:

    Sadly, it seems (to me) that the legislators aren’t taking into consideration that some parents simply don’t have the time. There are those parents who have to work multiple jobs yet still need the monetary help to make ends meet.
    There are just too many factors that seem to have been overlooked. This is supposed to be about helping the children but, in fact, would hurt them. Why not, instead, offer academic help through peer tutoring or volunteer tutoring after school? Invest in help instead of blame and punishment.

  11. I can understand why they may be imposing this law; part of me agrees with it. However I hate to think of the many children who will be abused as a direct result of it.

  12. I feel the same way about this as when they spend large amounts of money trying to give incentives to parents to participate. you can’t force people to love their kids. even if they come for free food or whatever they’re not going to be doing homework and reading to their kids at home. anyone who feels sorry for these parents hasn’t spent a lot of time in inner-cities.

  13. Shelia says:

    I see alot of children being punished at home when the parents cant make ends meet because the child is not meeting requirements at school,, also the stress that should be on the parents to provide is being shifted to a child who can no longer just be a child they have to worry about financial problems to… take the stress of taking a test (which is difficult enough on its own for some ) then multiply it because now its that stress plus the stress of if they dont make a high enough grade then they may not be able to have clean clothes to wear or a shelter over there heads!!! This is absolutely crazy for a child to have to deal with!!

  14. I agree that there has got to be a better way; this way feels wrong. I love your post about children and meditation. Perhaps legislators should create and pass a bill which implements the teaching of this particular practice to every child. It may be the “modern flower child” in me, but mindfulness training, seems to be a more positive, holistic and long term solution- a skill that could benefit a child in all aspects of his life.


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