8-Yr-Old Pursues Tennessee Lawmaker, Forces Him To Drop Bill

Back in February, I wrote here about the latest anti-education idea to emerge from Tennessee: a proposal to take away welfare payments from parents whose kids get bad grades or do poorly on tests.

Bizarrely, Republican state Senator Stacey Campfield apparently believed that his bill, officially called the “Education to End Poverty Act,” would be a great way to break the cycle of poverty and was determined to make it state law.

Others disagreed with him: the act was nicknamed the “Starve the Children” bill by opponents and was widely criticized.

The bill would have reduced temporary assistance to needy families of children who fail a class, unless they go through a series of corrective actions, including taking a parenting class, meeting with teachers, enrolling a child in summer school or getting them a tutor.

Campfield’s bill cleared both the House and Senate committees but last week the state senator dropped his support for the bill, declaring that he needed more time to gain a full understanding of the impact of the bill on families.

The Tennessean thinks there’s a different reason:

Before Thursday’s session, activists organized a demonstration in the corridors of Legislative Plaza and the state Capitol. An 8-year-old girl confronted Campfield with a petition signed by opponents of the bill, and a choir of about 60 people, including some in clerical garb, sang “Jesus Loves the Little Children” outside the Senate chamber as lawmakers filed in.

Campfield walked away from the confrontation, saying repeatedly that he didn’t think children should be used as political props. But it was a long walk, and the confrontation extended over several minutes as video cameras recorded the back-and-forth.

“Why do you want to cut benefits for people?” 8-year-old Aamira Fetuga asked Campfield after she chased him up a Capitol escalator.

You can watch video of their interactions by clicking here.

Naturally, Campfield didn’t actually admit that Aamira’s lobby had anything to do with the delay of the bill.

You may recognize this senator’s name, since he has been making headlines for a while.

His infamous “Don’t Say Gay Bill,” a measure banning elementary and middle-school teachers from discussing sexual activity that is not “related to natural human reproduction” failed during a 2012 legislative session, and was resurrected again this year, where it failed again.

On its return, the bill included new language requiring school officials to inform parents if they suspect one of their students is gay. The measure also mandated schools to provide counseling to such students, to prevent “behavior injurious to the physical or mental health and well-being of the student or another person.”

Campfield’s opinions are so unpopular that earlier last year he was booted out of a Knoxville restaurant by the owner, Martha Boggs, who was disgusted by some of his remarks about gays and the origins of the AIDS virus.

Let’s hear a big shout-out for that powerful Aamira Fetuga!


Related Care2 Coverage

Should Parents Of Failing Students Lose Welfare Benefits?

These Bills Aren’t Passing, But Tennessee Continues To Hate LGBTs Anyway

Matthew Shepard’s Father Takes On Don’t Say Gay Bill


Photo Credit: The Tennessean


Kay M.
.4 years ago

I read the article again today, It has brought out a lot of good conversation between the members back and forth. Over 170 comments in all and I enjoyed reading them all., they were very informative. Keep the information coming. and once again Bravo to all who helped in this situation with the 8 year old girl.and that stupid congress person.

Elisa F.
Elisa F4 years ago

Great Job Aamira!

Annmari Lundin
Annmari Lundin4 years ago

Deb L. 5:45PM PDT on Apr 20, 2013
That's a good one! Really love it!

Nick Andrews
Nico Smart4 years ago

It's very difficult to predict the market four or more years in advance. After all, nobody would have believed a no-name freshman Senator with absolutely zero qualifications or real education whatsoever could get into the White House. Strange things happen, and sometimes not for the better.

Michael S.
Michael S.4 years ago

I finished my Master's Degree program with a 4.0 GPA, and I still can't find a job in my field because in Texas, education doesn't mean squat when it comes to getting a job. They basically tell me, "Oh, you got a degree in paralegal studies? There's no demand for paralegals in 2013. You should have thought about that when you started your program in 2009, when the market for paralegals/legal assistants was good, loser!" If this is the case, then why should a kid's grades be tied to parents' welfare benefits if the kid's grades don't mean squat in helping them find a job?

Autumn S.
Autumn S4 years ago

What a wonderful little girl :)

Bill and Katie D.

Good for her I saw the Video and he tried to dismiss her as much as he could!
Very rude of him! She wanted to talk to him!

Deb L.
Deb L.4 years ago

What about failing rich kids? Do their parents have to pay taxes?

Kathy Niell
Kathryn Niell4 years ago

While everyone wants all children to do their best, to penalize their parents if they don't do well is not the right thing to do. Not all children are capable of getting high grades. Instead of a number or a letter, maybe stress should be shifted to doing the best kids can!
Maybe Aamira should be State Senator rather than Campfield!

Patrish Dehler
Patricia Dehler4 years ago

Where do we get these dumb idiots? Someone (usually in the south) elections them. Want to fix poverty. Try forced birth control. Don't have a job, can't feed yourself, then you can't have kids. People are always having more kids then they can afford (all races), and then want someone else to help them out. I know it's a fantasy, but at 71 I'm fed up.