Former NCAE/NEA exec gives Newt some well-deserved heck

(Cross-posted from the blog John Wilson Unleashed):

“Newt’s Half-Baked Idea
By John Wilson

Have you ever tried to bake a cake but had it flop because you took it out of the oven too early? Underbaked cake is mushy and gooey, difficult to correct, and hard to swallow. That is my mental model of Presidential hopeful and former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrinch’s idea on teaching poor children a work ethic. But it’s even worse than half-baked; it’s outrageous, and offensive.

First, who determined that poor children as a group lack a work ethic? Some might argue that rich children, who often have their every whim catered to, might be a group that lacks a work ethic. Either argument is wrong because it paints both groups of children with such a broad brush. All children should develop a work ethic by understanding that going to school and learning is their work. Good grades are their reward.

To suggest, as Mr. Gingrich did, that poor children learn everything they need to know about work through criminal activity is outrageous. As a teacher of poor children for more than 20 years, I can vouch for the work ethic of my students. To earn extra money, they delivered newspapers, washed cars and dogs, babysat for younger children, raked leaves, shoveled snow off sidewalks, and sold candy. They earned money the same way middle class children did.

Mr. Gingrich also suggests that poor children take the place of “unionized” janitors. Really? Our school custodians are professional individuals who handle toxic waste and chemicals, monitor indoor air quality, assure a clean and healthy environment, recycle, as well as monitor hallways and bathrooms for potential problems. It is not a job for a child. And laying off adult janitors, unionized or not, doesn’t improve the unemployment rate or the economy.

All children should be taught good stewardship and citizenship. They should certainly pick up liter, recycle, clean up after themselves, and keep their classrooms clean, but in no way should they be expected to take on an adult’s job.

If Mr. Gingrich could ever admit he is wrong, I would suggest that he advocate for every child to value and respect work and understand financial literacy. But what is more important is that every child understand that the first job is to be a great student.

To which, all a body can say is “amen, brother!”


  1. Nonanonymous

    December 5, 2011 at 12:23 pm

    Romney’s their guy. They’ll do anything to avoid nominating Ron Paul, the only serious candidate from either party. I’ll be surprised if the charade we call a society holds together long enough for elections, or whether a police state will take over first.

  2. Tachyon Feathertail

    December 5, 2011 at 12:59 pm

    Children know that schools are an artificial environment, and that success in a school is nothing like completing a real task for real people. It’s not their “job” any more than arbitrary parent-assigned chores are, and they’re not to be blamed for not sharing this fiction.

  3. david esmay

    December 5, 2011 at 6:56 pm

    Newt is an idiot. Kids today don’t have the opportunity to work that people of my generation had, adults do all the lawn mowing, all the farm work is done by machinery or migrants, and grocery stores, once the right of passage for a teenage kid’s first job, have few positions available. The people that grew up in the 60’s and 70’s like I did, grew up in a different world, and poor kids were definitely not lazy. I wasn’t poor, but I did farm work, mowed lawns, and ran a trap line, where the hell is a kid going to find those kinds of opportunity today with scholastic and athletic obligations that go far beyond what was demanded of us? Where are urban and suburban kids, who far out number available jobs, going to find one? It’s just more delusional b.s. from and out of touch cheap labor conservative whose time has passed. If President Obama doesn’t veto the National Defense Authorization Act, specifically section1031, employing poor kids will be the least of our worries.

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