Tying Welfare to Good Grades a Bad Idea
by Anthony Stasi
May 02, 2013 | 1958 views | 0 0 comments | 40 40 recommendations | email to a friend | print
This has always been a column of ideas focusing on government reform, but there are times when the best move is the one that you do not make.

There is a bill on the table in Tennessee that would tie a family’s welfare benefits to a child’s school performance. There is never a lack of hoops that society demands people jump through for welfare, and this is why bills like this pop up in state government.

Workfare and other ideas have been good examples of modernizing how we help the poor, but an idea that ties a child’s performance in school to how a family eats is not good. Would we try an idea like this in New York?

Something like this could come up in the State Senate, but it would not make it to law for the same reason that it will not in Tennessee: putting a family’s basic needs on the shoulders of a child is nutty.

Calls to have mandatory drug testing for welfare recipients have gained momentum, especially on the social networking front. The reason why that kind of testing is not always necessary is because for most basic programs – such as housing – there already is testing.

Testing for drugs in order to give away food stamps might just create more government in order to catch a small number of people who are abusing the system. In other words, it sounds like a good idea, but in many cases it could be a waste of money.

These ideas are all debatable, and the state legislator in Tennessee who wants grades tied to welfare may be on the right track, even if this idea is not a good one. There needs to be a way to get parents involved more in school performance, but there are simply too many variables in how a child learns to tie welfare benefits to the outcome.

What kind of ideas would be better? We’ve heard a lot about how college loans should be made more available and with lower interest rates. Tying a child’s attendance in school to interest rates on college loans might be a nod in that direction. At least in this scenario, a student is helping (or hurting) his or her own cause. Ideas matter in modern politics because it shows effort, but not all ideas are good ones.

Saffran Jumps In

In 2001, Dennis Saffran was looking to replace Councilman Mike Abel in the 19th City Council District, which includes Bayside, parts of Flushing, and Whitestone. Saffran narrowly lost that race to Tony Avella by a margin of approximately 400 votes.

Since then, Saffran has been active in Republican politics, but has not indicated interest in a particular election...until now. Saffran wants the seat he ran for twelve years ago, which is currently held by fellow GOPer Dan Halloran.

What has changed since 2001? Not a whole lot in the district itself. It is still one of the better places to live in the city. It still boasts great shops and restaurants. It has good schools, both public and private. What has changed, however, is the political landscape.

Halloran has not indicated that he is stepping aside, and Saffran would have to beat Halloran in a primary. This is where the Queens County GOP needs to get involved. If they want to keep this seat, they have to avoid a primary.
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