Newt Gingrich wants every state to open a work-study college where students work 20 hours a week during the school year and full-time in the summer and then graduate debt-free.
In poverty stricken K-12 districts, Mr. Gingrich said that schools should enlist students as young as 9 to14 to mop hallways and bathrooms, and pay them a wage. Currently child-labor laws and unions keep poor students from bootstrapping their way into middle class, Mr. Gingrich said.
âThis is something that no liberal wants to deal with,â he told an audience at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard on Friday, according to Politico.
âYou say to somebody, you shouldnât go to work before youâre what, 14, 16 years of age, fine,â Mr. Gingrich said. âYouâre totally poor. Youâre in a school that is failing with a teacher that is failing. Iâve tried for years to have a very simple model. 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, theyâd begin the process of rising.â
Gingrich, who back in 1994 proposed bringing back orphanages for children on welfare, was quickly labeled âDickensianâ by people commenting on Twitter.
Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, called Mr. Gingrichâs proposal âabsurd.â
âWho in their right mind would lay off janitors and replace them with disadvantaged children â who should be in school, and not cleaning schools,â Ms. Weingarten said. âAnd who would start backtracking on laws designed to halt the exploitation of children?â [New York Times]
A reader of the New York Times article, RC, of Minnesota, commented:
Sounds like China under Mao. Ha ha. Anyway, the work/college plan is a good idea, but why does the “state” have to set this up? Anyone can do this already in the free market.
Van in Richardson, Texas commented:
Oh Yes! The unionized janitors in our public schools been keepin’ us down too long!
David of Michigan, said:
We need to open more Poor Houses. The poor-house movement will then need a Historian @ $1 million/year. Children could also help out in those tight spots in coal mines. Newt is always there when we need him.
Jane Bone of Palatin, Illinois:
It’s nice – yes, I’m being sarcastic – that wealthy Newt feels students as young as 9 should be working at cleaning jobs at their schools instead of either having time and teachers to help them learn, or just plain necessities like food, shelter, and–let’s hope- loving parents who do want them to rise in the world and set their sights on achieving academically.
My God! Maybe his wife would like to donate some of her Newt-given jewelry to finance this endeavor he is proposing.
Or is Newt thinking that by setting up chances for kids to hold these kinds of jobs, he is showing them how to grow up and get full-time ones with limited potential for advancement and educational growth?
Oh, am I going to work my tail off for Obama and the Democrats! How fast can 2012 and a Democratic victory get here?
The Atlantic weighed in as well. Jordan Weissmann wrote:
The GOP presidential candidate wants nine-year-olds to work as janitors. It’s not merely a crazy plan (although it’s plenty crazy). It’s also evidence of a deep disrespect for and ignorance of American work.
But donât overlook the fact of the rising of Gingrich in the Republican polls. The New York Times also reports:
Republicans are most likely to name Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich as their first choice for their party’s 2012 presidential nomination, with Herman Cain close behind. Among all Republicans nationwide, Romney is the choice of 20% and Gingrich 19%. Among Republican registered voters, Gingrich is at 22% and Romney at 21%.
The fact that Gingrich is a dimwit doesnât mean he might not be nominated by the Republican Party to run for President. I donât think that if he is nominated that he can beat President Obama. But at the same time I didnât think George Bush would beat John Kerry either. Democrats cannot afford to ignore the threat.