"This is not a dead issue at all," Campfield said.
“I got lots of good feedback, actually,” he told incredulous reporters outside the Senate chamber. “I like to think there’s enough to hopefully move us forward in a good direction over the summer. You know, I was surprised. Even afterward, everybody came up and said, ‘You know, as you described it, it is completely different than how it’s been portrayed. What you’re trying to do is a goal that I think everybody here has, and I think we need to get together and try to pound something out.’”
He added: “We all have the same goal. You heard it from Democrats and Republicans. We have to do something to get parents involved. Is this the perfect vehicle? Maybe not. But hopefully, we at least have some buy-in from people to at least start doing something.”
The senator also addressed his bizarre interaction with the little girl and today’s protesters, and how it feels to become a regular punch line on TV comedy shows.
Q: Did you get the sense that you didn’t have enough votes today?
Campfield: You know, I don’t know. Like I said, I had a lot of good feedback from people. I knew it was going to be close. … But I want to make it good. I want to make it so everybody’s comfortable with it. It’s so late in the year. It’s very difficult for us to do anything at this 11th hour.
Q: What did you say to the protesters?
Campfield: I just don’t like people who use people as props. I think it’s really weak. If a person wants to talk to me, I’ve never run away from anybody. You know anybody who wants to talk to me, I answer my phone. My cell phone’s out there. It’s public. You don’t have to use children as props.
Q: As much as this story has been on late-night shows, you know that you just probably earned yourself another spot with that whole exchange with the little girl and the jokes that are going to be made. What do you say about that?
Campfield: I don’t know. I can’t speak to what they’re going to say in the national media. But I don’t like using children as props. I don’t like it when Obama does it. I don’t like it when a Republican does it. I don’t think that’s appropriate. I had a goal. My goal is to get parents involved in a child’s education. Some parents don’t like accountability.
Q: What about that little girl? If she’s watching, what would you say to her?
Campfield: No, I don’t have any problem with that little girl. She was being used by her parents. It’s despicable but it is what it is.
Q: They sent this to summer study. Is that the end of it?
Campfield: No, no, no, no. Literally both chairman have said we’re really going to do this. The lieutenant governor has said we’re really going to do this. This is not a dead issue at all. This is maybe a slight detour but honestly I think this could make it a better product.
Bonus coverage: This morning before the Senate acted, Gov. Bill Haslam outlined his reasons for opposing Campfield's bill.
I still have major problems really for three reasons. No. 1 there are a whole lot of reasons a student struggles. Parental involvement is one of those. No. 2, if we’re going to put some kind of penalty in there for parental involvement I think we need to have that where it applies to all families and not just to certain low income families that we happen to have a hook on because they receive benefits from us.
And I think the third thing is, that’s a pretty big step to take without any data behind it about how it works in research. Nobody else in the U.S. has done this. There’s no pilot program anywhere that says we tried this in a limited number of schools. It just seems like a big step to take without a whole lot of research behind it.