Following in the footsteps of legislators in states such as Kansas and Maine, lawmakers in Michigan don't want to be left out of the Republican party's latest salvo in their crusade against poor people.
The Michigan state legislature has advanced a bill that would effectively punish children if their parents do not ensure that they've arrived at school each day.
The proposal, whose sponsor has dubbed it the "parental responsibility act," would allow the state to cut off Family Independence Program assistance if a child was chronically truant.
If the child is younger than 16, the whole family could lose cash benefits. If the child is 16 or older, they would be removed from the family group, which could continue to receive some assistance.
There are many reason why young children living in poverty may be absent from school aside from their parents simply not showing enough responsibility. I'd wager that the latter is the exception rather than the rule.
It's possible their parents have to leave for work before school hours (or work at night). It's possible children do not have transportation to school. It's possible they don't have clean clothes.
Either way, essentially defunding a family living in poverty will not magically make children appear at school. It could even make matters worse.
I doubt anyone would argue that we should just let it slide when children miss a large number of school days, but taking away the money that could very well be feeding and clothing the children who are missing school isn't going to help.
"The goal of increasing school attendance is laudable; we all want students in school, learning and getting the education needed to end the cycle of poverty," MLPP President Gilda Jacobs said in a statement. "But this bill won't get kids to school. However, it is certain to push more kids deeper into poverty, making it even more difficult to get to school."