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Can a Hungry Child Learn Well? Probably Not

Generic image (iStockphoto/Thinkstock)
Generic image (iStockphoto/Thinkstock)

Imagine how hunger affects your progress at work; now imagine being 7 years old, hungry every day and haunted by the fact that how you do on a math test could determine whether your family gets dinner next week. Legislation proposed by two congressmen last week would make such a scenario all too real, and Ebony's Michael Arceneaux is incensed.

Last week, Sen. Stacey Campfield, R-Knoxville, and Rep. Vance Dennis, R-Savannah, introduced legislation that would tie welfare benefits of parents with children to their kids' school performance. Under the law, there would a 30 percent reduction in Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (AKA welfare) benefits to parents whose children are not making satisfactory progress in school. Dennis reportedly told the House Health Subcommittee the measure now only applies to "parents who do nothing." Dennis also likened the law to "a carrot and stick approach."

For the sake of not sounding like a complete monster who wants to terrorize children already stressed by circumstances they had no hand in creating, the bill would not apply to children with handicaps or learning disabilities. Ditto for parents who seek to improve their child's performance in skill – vis–à–vis – signing up for a "parenting class," arranging a tutoring program or attending a parent-teacher conference …

Several factors determine how well a kid performs in school, but increasing a child's chances of showing up to school by distracting him with raging hunger isn't exactly logical. Hungry, stressed kids does not equal 'grade booster.' Not to mention, as much as we should be encouraging parents to take a greater interest in their child's place of learning, where are the efforts to ask the same of higher-earning income parents? I'll wait.


Read Michael Arceneaux's entire piece at Ebony.

The Root aims to foster and advance conversations about issues to the black Diaspora by presenting a variety of opinions from all perspectives, whether or not those opinions are shared by our editorial staff.


Michael Arceneaux hails from Houston, lives in Harlem and praises Beyoncé’s name wherever he goes. Follow him on Twitter.

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