So Newt Gingrich wants to be the grinch that, if elected president of the United States, would steal rights away from minors by loosening child labor laws and replacing adult janitors with children in underprivileged schools, huh?
The Huffington Post reports that the former Speaker of the House said:
“It is tragic what we do in the poorest neighborhoods, entrapping children in, first of all, child laws, which are truly stupid,” said the former House speaker, according to CNN. “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.”
“You’re going to see from me extraordinarily radical proposals to fundamentally change the culture of poverty in America,” he added.
The Huffington Post further reports, “Generally, the Fair Labor Standards Act allows minors over 14 to work in most jobs, with several exceptions for minors under that age. Hours are limited for minors under the age of 16. Some states have higher age standards. ”
The best adjective to describe Mr. Gingrich’s proposal is, to throw his word back at him, stupid. The worst is that it’s downright appalling.
Please, don’t get me wrong. I have nothing against children holding jobs for money — as long as they are the certain jobs that don’t require long hours under exhaustive conditions and which would put them in way of potentially dangerous situations. Babysitting, mowing lawns, shoveling snow, household chores, delivering newspapers — these are all jobs that children would be fine doing for some bucks an hour, a few hours a week. Hey, children can even set up a tried and true lemonade stand in their neighborhood — if they have the right permits LOL:P
But to replace diligent unionized workers with children to take on janitorial jobs that would include scrubbing a school from top to bottom while being exposed to dangerous chemicals, waxing floors with possible use of heavy equipment, and moving furniture and equipment, is quite unheard of, at least by 21st century standards.
So reformation of child labor laws would combat poverty in the country you say, Mr. Gingrich? Why are you targeting the underprivileged? Why not demand that the wealthier communities drive out their janitors and substitute them with minors? Oh, that’s right, because the poor are not as serious or as well prepared to be contributing, upright, responsible members of mainstream society like the more affluent, is that so?
Mr. Gingrich said that putting children to work in janitorial duties will also instill school pride in them. Want to really instill school pride in the children — or any sort of pride for that matter? Parents and other community members should teach children to respect their schools by not vandalizing them, not littering and not sticking gum on the walls, under the desks, etc. Teach them to respect their elders, including teachers, and listen to what they have to say. Teach the youth that they should pay more attention in classrooms, learn all they can, and then hand in homework that are neat, complete and actually are literate. Teach children to have an open mind, and try different things by going out for sports teams and other time-worthy extracurricular activities, both within and outside their schools.
Teach the impoverished children that they can rise above their stations if they invest their minds and hard work into their education instead of janitorial duties.
I am not knocking janitor as a career. Janitors are an integral part of a school and a community; as a parent and a local reporter, I have seen this firsthand. However, cleaning is not all they do. They protect children from harm, operate heavy machinery and mix chemicals that could cause health problems when exposed to. For a complete overview of what a janitorial job entails, visit iseek.org.
Forcing children to do a full day’s worth of (and maybe then some) hard labor better reserved for adults will not only lead the young ones to resent their youth, but to also resent those that took their youth away from them in the first place.