TANF and Drug Testing: A Critique of Background Motives and Assumptions

In the previous blogpost, I examined a truncated history of the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program which emerged from the 1996 passing of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act Public Law 104-193 (PRWORA) by Bill Clinton. As noted in that post, PRWORA overhauled the Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) program which primarily target and supported families with children who had little to no income and transitioned that program into what we now know as TANF.

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TANF and Drug Testing: Historical Overview and Goals


When Bill Clinton signed the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act Public Law 104-193 (PRWORA) in 1996, the United States reshuffled and, in some ways, curtailed standing welfare programs to various degrees. One program that faced massive overhaul was the Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) program which primarily target and supported families with children who had little to no income. With the passing of the 1996 act, ADFC was transitioned into the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program and a number of shifts occurred concerning the implementation of welfare at the state level and the relationship of the national government in providing welfare. In this blog post, I aim to do two things to understand these latter nuances.

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VT-GrATE: Teach-In

Two weeks ago or so I was fortunate enough to give a presentation on the Null Curriculum of Sex and Gender in the Sciences. During my part of the session we processed through what we were historically taught about sex (namely that there are two), gender (also that there are two and that it should correlate with biological sex), and all the things we weren’t taught. What haven’t we been taught?

Well, we usually weren’t taught that:

  • there are at least 6 sexes
  • the Eurocentric and Western of gender has been and always will be in flux
  • Intersex folks call into question the consistency of our correlation of gender and sex
  • Intersex “conditions” are extremely common.
  • 1/1600 people do not have XX or XY chromosome configurations.
  • 1/200-1/2000 people have an intersex condition to include physical “abnormalities”

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Higher Ed: How Do We Educate? The Wrong Way

If I could change one thing right now in Higher Education, it would be our educational model. Specifically, I think we absolutely need to, and must, move away from the banking model of education that tends to be the default throughout many of our disciplines.

In this model there are the folks with the knowledge and those without. The “haves” present the material to the “have-nots” and in doing so allow them to acquire something that they were lacking; this is obviously a deficit model.

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MOOCs: Some Attendance Required


While I am in favor of MOOCs (Massive Online Open Courses), I also think that for all the positivity there is a way in which we tend to gloss over some of the sticking points for the approach and the negative impacts privileging the digital over the actual can have on faculty at a given institution.

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I Need More Ice Cream for This

It was not in Raj Lyubov’s nature to think. Character and training disposed him not to interfere in other mens’s business. His job was to find out what they did, and his inclination was to let them go on doing it. He preferred to be enlightened, rather than to enlighten; to seek facts rather than the Truth. But even the most unmissionary soul, unless he pretend he has no emotions, is sometimes faced with a choice between commission and omission. “What are they doing?” abruptly becomes, “What are we doing?” and then, “What must I do?”
The Word for World is Forest by Ursula Le Guin (2010, p. 124)

When I started reading the selections for this week the above quote from one of Ursula Le Guin’s books came to mind and a pint of Ben and Jerry’s went into my hand. In higher education, in our graduate school careers, in the courses we teach, and with the students we work with the question remains: what are we doing?


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What Counts as Inclusion?

How far do you have to go to pee? Take a few minutes to think about it and then think about how far you’d have to go if the closest restroom was closed.

For many people on this campus, the answer to the first question is “right down the hallway” though for some folks the answer may be “on the next floor”. For the second question, a number of folks may answer “on the next floor” and, maybe, a few would say “the next building”.

Would that answer change if you were disabled? Would it change if you had a small child you had to take care of? Would it change if you were trans or gender non-conforming?

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Reparations: Reflections on a Present Condition

Last semester, President Sands addressed a motley crowd on the grounds of Smithfield Plantation. Marketed as a talk that would address the necessity of owning our past if we are going to “Invent the Future,” the sparse, and now deleted, advertisements on Facebook drew members of the university community from various areas and disciplines. Thus framed, persons from the IEC, GIA, Philosophy, VT Engage, Inclusive VT, and other university affiliates gathered together in the pavilion to hear about plausible shifts in the conversations held about the plantation and its historical connection to the foundation, and upkeep, of the university proper. At the cession of the talk, many were still waiting to hear the talk which had been promised (or perhaps more charitably the talk which many expected to be furnished to a group which included people of color, students, faculty, staff, and the decedents of the Prestons who founded the plantation  240+ years ago).

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