The latest grand idea coming from one of Republican candidates for President consists of firing union janitors and hiring students to do the job instead. Newt Gingrich, former Speaker of the House, can claim credit for this one. Conventional wisdom tells us he is a man of ideas. Not sure if anyone ever said they had to be good ideas.
“You say to somebody, you shouldn’t go to work before you’re what, 14, 16 years of age, fine. You’re totally poor. You’re in a school that is failing with a teacher that is failing. I’ve tried for years to have a very simple model,” he said. “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.”
It may seem a simple idea, either repulsive to some and disciplinarian to others, but it deserves to be dissected a little more. If we can move past the idea repealing child labor laws aimed at protecting kids from being exploited, underpaid, and placed in dangerous situations… actually how do we move past that?
Janitorial duties require more than just a broom, mop, and a bucket. Cleaning supplies are often toxic. How many would unknowingly mix bleach with another cleaning product? It takes time to develop what society often calls common sense and the knowledge of this deadly concoction falls into that category. Next, the kid must clean up after their peers in the lunchroom, in the classrooms, and worst of all, the bathroom.
Newt’s simple idea completely misses the complexity of the consequences. Our schools already suffer from big problem in bullying and some deal with violence on a daily basis. Now he wants to throw hard working Americans out of a job and install kids to clean up after their peers. The social indignity of the situation is too hard to comprehend.
Putting kids to work at their own schools is not going to create any type of pride. As it is now, too many kids dread going to school. Imagine going to work and school at the same place when you are 12. The time for educating the working students vanishes with strict hours. The likelihood of the student garnering a college degree, let alone finishing high school, would plummet even further.
Newt also subtlety attacks union workers. The right hates the idea of working people joining together to exercise their rights. The reasons are two-fold, unions generally support Democrats and union workers generally earn more money on average. Newt and other dislike both of these concepts. In an unregulated free market workers would fight against each other for jobs, thus creating a competition to be the lowest cost employee. Unions prevent drastic decreases in wages and protect every day people from abuse and manipulation by employers.
Delving into Newt’s idea reveals more than the mere insidiousness of it. but also the true intention of shoving poor kids into already low-wage job to keep them there for life. We need to keep these kids in school and provide them with a more advanced education than Newt desires.
© Aaron Krager 2008-2013 | Have any questions? Send me an email.