The persistence of 8-year-old Aamira Fetuga (pictured above) played a pivotal role in causing Sen. Stacey Campfield (R) to drop a discriminatory bill and may have changed the course of Tennessee welfare reform, reports Colorlines.com.
Tennessee parents of under-performing students risked losing their welfare benefits if they did not show up for at least two parent-teacher conferences. As Campfield explained to Fetuga, whom he initially dismissed as a “prop,” if the parents showed up for the conferences, then students wouldn’t fail and families wouldn’t lose their benefits.
Sounds neat and simple, right?
But as Republicans are prone to do, Campfield seemed either unconcerned or oblivious to systemic disparities that may make taking off of work impossible for parents below the poverty line without job security. He also didn’t take into account that a parent unable to attend a conference is not a valid reason to starve a child. And he possibly didn’t take into account that with a sub-par public school system that Republicans want to privatize, and crime rates remaining high and steady, attending two parent-teacher conferences might not be the panacea that cures failing grades.
But 8-year-old Aamira, joined by other protestors, shook his faith in his own bill.
“Why do you want to cut benefits for people?” 8-year-old Aamira Fetuga asked Campfield after she chased him up a Capitol escalator.
Fetuga went on to follow Campfield after the camera stop rolling.
Campfield says he withdrew his bill because he didn’t have a full understanding of how the law would affect groups.
“Did I know what the final result was going to be? No, I never do,” Campfield said on the Senate Floor on Thursday. “I got a lot of good feedback from people. … I think a lot of people were really close (to supporting it) but were just looking for a little bit more.”