What’s The Blowback For Failing Our Kids?

by lizard


This week I’ve been on vacation in Seattle, and while we’ve been spending our tourist dollars in Washington, the picture I took of an advertisement shows how Montana state money is being spent to lure tourist dollars in the opposite direction. The slogan, if you’re having a hard time reading it, is Step Out of Bounds.

Before Seattle, we stopped in Spokane to stay with my Grandmother. Two of my Aunts came to dinner, and after the polite small talk we got into work stories. My first Aunt sarcastically exclaimed how excited she was to get an extra month off this summer, unpaid of course. She is witnessing pre-school program cuts first hand, and it’s brutal. My second Aunt is a nurse treating inmates.

It was good catching up with family, despite how somber our conversations were.

I’ve done a decent job staying away from news feeds, mostly due to the round-the-clock surveillance required to keep two small kids from leaping off piers and hanging off hotel balconies.

One story that caught my attention was the legislation creeping through Tennessee’s state bowels to make state assistance for family’s contingent on school achievement.

I think Laura Beck at Jezebel strikes the right tone.

First, here’s what it does:

According to KnoxNews, Tennessee legislators are attempting to pass legislation to cut the welfare benefits of parents with children who don’t meet attendance and performance requirements. The bill, SB 132, is sponsored by Sen. Stacey Campfield, R-Knoxville, and Rep. Vance Dennis, R-Savannah, and has passed committees in both the House and Senate, and now heads to another House committee, and to the Senate floor for vote.

The state Department of Human Services originally opposed the bill, but then worked with Campfield and Knox to add exceptions for kids with disabilities (both physical and learning) or if parents take school-approved steps to attempt to improve the child’s progress.

And here is Beck’s reaction:

Just… wow. The levels of fucked on this bill are multiple; It’s almost impossible to think of something worse than this dystopian nightmare. It’s actively making it more difficult for poor families to survive — and it’s a double whammy for the children. For kids who are already struggling in school, they’re now threatened with affecting their family’s ability to survive.

You have an undiagnosed learning disability and you failed the tests? No dinner for you! You miss school because you have no way of getting there? Good job, selfish, now nobody in your family gets to eat. You didn’t get your homework done because you’re so fucking hungry and that’s all you can think about? CRY ME A RIVER.

And, of course, this only targets already financially struggling families. If you’re rich and your kid is doing shitty in school — who cares? You’re rich!

What people in this situation need are more resources, not less. What we should be doing is flooding these areas with assistance programs and funding, but instead, we’re threatening to take it away. The amount of money families on Welfare receive is barely enough for survival — and often, not even that — and to put the pressure on a CHILD to ensure what little they’re given is not reduced? It’s unconscionable.

Fuck this heartbreaking, stupid, regressive, piece of shit bill, and fuck every single member of the Tennessee legislature who votes for it. They should be the ones who have their salaries docked for even considering this insane nonsense.

It is insane. And as I traipse like a good tourist through the aquarium and the science center, which the kids absolutely loved, I can’t help thinking about all those kids who aren’t getting the same chances my kids are getting.

The long term cost of us failing children is huge. And austerity blowback is as predictable as it is sad.

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