ERIC Number: ED311127
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 1988-Dec
Reference Count: N/A
Preparing for Learnfare: Setting the Conditions for a Questionable Experiment.
"Learnfare" is a term applied to the mandating of school attendance for teen parents and/or school age dependent children in households receiving Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) benefits as a condition of continued eligibility. This idea emanates from policymakers' concern about high truancy and dropout rates generally, basic skills deficits among many AFDC recipients, and the prospect of long-term welfare dependency for poorly educated populations. However, a learnfare model that applies sanctions for poor school attendance without improving the educational services available to students who are habitually absent will likely achieve neither the nominal goal of attendance improvement nor the more relevant goal of educational remediation. Policymakers' energy would be better spent in providing at-risk students with schools they consider worth attending than in targeting short-term goals without improving the schools' ability to educate. Some states have made punitive learnfare a first choice attendance-improvement program instead of a last resort. By oversimplifying the reasons for the academic failure of poor children and diverting attention from institutional reform issues, learnfare could undermine more systematic and comprehensive efforts to improve the educational prospects of at-risk students. This document describes existing learnfare models in Minnesota, Ohio, Maryland, Florida, New Jersey, New Mexico, and Wisconsin, and discusses a failed attempt to institute learnfare in California. A proposal for an alternative program for teen parents is presented. (PB)
Descriptors: Compulsory Education, Early Parenthood, Program Proposals, Social Services, State Programs, State Surveys, Truancy, Welfare Recipients
Center for Law and Social Policy, 1616 P Street, NW, Suite 350, Washington, DC 20036 ($5.00).
Publication Type: Reports - Descriptive; Reports - Evaluative; Opinion Papers
Education Level: N/A
Sponsor: Edna McConnell Clark Foundation, New York, NY.
Authoring Institution: Center for Law and Social Policy, Washington, DC.
Identifiers - Laws, Policies, & Programs: Aid to Families with Dependent Children