Newt Gingrich suggested that perhaps a good idea for poor highschoolers would be to work as the janitors in their high school in their off hours which would “be a way to instill a work ethic while also saving money”. A lot of liberals jumped on him for this screaming, “That’s an awful idea. That is child labor and it’s racist to boot.”
Well, it sounds racist. But most of all it sounds stupid and way out of touch with the lives of regular Americans. So it’s not only racist, but it’s elitist.
What, pray tell, are the janitors going to do when there job is taken over by teenagers? Does Newt propose having the janitors teach? Maybe they will take on administrative duties? (Actually not bad ideas). Did Newt think for a moment that real people are janitors. And janitors earn their wages. They are good at their jobs and probably proud of their work. “Custodial engineers” are responsible for “making minor repairs to the steam plant, heating equipment, electrical equipment, plumbing…” according to PolitiFact.com. (Do you want to have students working on boilers?)
Hey, people, janitors fix things not blather on about nonsensical ideas about what could be done to improve the lives of poor children.
Also, there is nothing wrong with kids doing chores. In the one room school my husband went to they had a hot lunch and then they all did the dishes. I used to clean the teachers’ coffee cups after their coffee break. I was soooo relieved to be out of class for a half an hour. It was fun.
My father ran a school for the handicapped. He was an early pioneer in special education. Everybody had chores including the physically handicapped. Deaf dormitory students Richard and Cheryl helped my grandmother cook the evening meal and then do the dishes, just like a family would do. David who had little use of his arms or legs could fold the napkins with his chin. Older children helped the younger ones to bed.
On the ranch or farm, children fed the chickens, the pigs, and the bum lambs. They helped with haying. These are all called “chores”. The difference between chores and child labor is how long the chores last. If you send a kid down a mine shaft and they labor for 10 hours, that’s abuse. If a kid has to do an hour of mowing or washing the car, that’s chores.
And taking a job away from a capable hard working adult is just stupid and not the way to help poor children have a better education and a better life.
Note to politicians: I got this insight from a manicurist who was appalled that this politician would suggest taking a good paying job away from an adult and give it to a 14 year old because all it was was cleaning toilets. “No clue,” she said.