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[Susan notes: This letter is in response to Tennessee State Senator Stacey Campfield's proposal to cut welfare payments to families with students with bad report card. Tennesseean columnist Gail Kerr described Sen. Campfield thusly: Every January, in a predictable nutcake ritual, state Sen. Stacey Campfield climbs down from Crazy Mountain and makes his way to Nashville, sprinkling Legislative Plaza with bills that make Tennessee a laughingstock.]

Published in KnoxNews.com

To the editor

State Sen. Stacey Campfield's proposal to cut welfare payments for students with bad report cards is backwards. Poverty is the major cause of poor school performance. Poverty means inadequate diet, poor health care and lack of access to books at home, school and in the community: All of these are associated with low school achievement. The best teaching in the world will not help if children are hungry, ill and have little or nothing to read. Campfield's bill will make things worse, not better. Benefits to families whose children have low school achievement should be increased, not decreased, in order to protect these children from the effects of poverty, and we should take some of the money we are so eager to spend on "tough" standards and tests and invest in food programs, health care and libraries.

Michelle Shory, Knoxville, Clara Lee Brown, Knoxville, & Stephen Krashen, Los Angeles, Calif

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