There is no doubt that our welfare system is severely broken with thousands, perhaps millions of people taking advantage of the system. It needs to be fixed in such a way as to help as many people as possible find jobs and get themselves and their families off of welfare.
Tennessee State Senator Stacey Campfield (R) thought he had a good idea of how to improve the welfare system while at the same time improving the state education system. He proposed a bill that would determine a family’s welfare benefits to their child’s school performance along with the parent’s participation in their kid’s education.
Under Campfield’s proposed bill, a family could lose up to 30% of their welfare benefits that they receive as part of the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) program. If a child in a family receiving aid did not have a sufficient attendance record or meet minimal academic standards, the family would lose a portion of their benefits. That loss of benefits would also depend on the parent’s involvement by attending at least 2 parent-teacher conferences.
Campfield’s bill sounds good on the surface, but it presented a problem for any family homeschooling their children. One 8 year old homeschooler, Aamira Fetuga, showed up at the state capitol last Thursday, presented Campfield with a petition full of signatures of people that opposed his bill. Campfield accepted the petitions, but tried to hurry on to get to the senate floor for the vote on his bill. Aamira, along with the adults with her, continued to follow him and tried to talk to him about his bill.
The Senator tried to defend his bill, but he did not come across well at all. By the time he reach the senate floor, he became aware of other supporters of his that also opposed his bill, and before a vote could be taken, Campfield withdrew his bill. He says the issue is not dead and that he will continue to pursue the measure in the future.
Whether you agree with Campfield’s welfare bill or not, there’s a valuable lesson to be learned from this incident. Aamira Fetuga came away from the experience realizing that she helped defeat, at least for now, a bill that could have inadvertently hurt a number of families that homeschool their kids and receive welfare benefits. This young girl learned that every voice, regardless of age, counts.
I can’t tell you how many people I’ve talked to over the years that tell me that their one vote or one voice won’t matter. In fact, if everyone in the US who didn’t vote last November had voted, the outcome of the election would have been totally different. If you’re one of those, I pray that you learned that your voice and your vote can and does make a difference and that you’ll exercise your right and duty to use them both in the future.