Speaking to a group of supporters at Harvard University on Friday GOP frontrunner Newt Gingrich says that child labor laws should be abandoned so poor family’s can get out of poverty by having their children work.
In his speech Gingrich told those in attendance:
“You say to somebody, you shouldn’t go to work before you’re what, 14, 16 years of age, fine. You’re totally poor,”
Gingrich went on to add:
“You’re in a school that is failing with a teacher that is failing … Most of these schools ought to get rid of the unionized janitors, have one master janitor and pay local students to take care of the school. The kids would actually do work, they would have cash, they would have pride in the schools, they’d begin the process of rising.”
I fail to understand how students who are already failing in a failing school will see a rise in their progress when they are spending their extra time working rather than studying however at least one school has decided to put the idea into practice. Dripping Springs, Texas decided to put students to work but only to lower costs which in turn allowed teachers to avoid layoffs. Even in that case students are just asked to take out trash and sweep the classroom floors within 15 minutes of afternoon dismissal from classes (without pay).
In Dripping Springs teachers say their rooms are logged if cleanup is missed which has left them with less time to answer student questions and provide extra academic help after class.
Despite the downfalls of early systems using the student involvement method Gingrich maintains that child labor laws are a hindrance:
“You go out and talk to people, as I do, you go out and talk to people who are really successful in one generation … They all started their first job between nine and 14 years of age. They all were either selling newspapers, going door to door, they were doing something, they were washing cars.”
Perhaps Gingrich took his advice from Japanese schools where teachers and students often spend part of their day doing the work of janitors and cafeteria workers but also experience longer educational learning days.
With many schools already cutting entire periods out of their day to save money I personally question when students will spend their time learning. I wonder if nine year olds will be Hazmat certified as some point.
Do you think children as young as nine years old should be put to work in our school system?