Gingrich's Latest Absurd Child Labor Advocacy: Poor NYC Families Would be 'Better Served' If Students Were School Custodians

On Wednesday, Newt Gingrich posted an article in which he says that students, especially poor ones, would be better off if they worked part-time at school, cleaning up after other students, because mopping up vomit is a great way to keep kids interested.

He says:

Wouldn't it be great if New York City schools served their students as well as they serve some of their custodians?

Students--especially those from very poor families--would be better served if they had the opportunity to earn money part-time at school by doing some of the tasks custodians are now performing so expensively.

Dozens of poor students could have part-time, paying jobs for the $100,000 a year New York schools pay some custodians. For that amount, more than 30 children could work just two hours each school day and each take home $3,000 a year by the time they are 12 or 13 years old.

Some of this work could be clerical; other tasks could be janitorial, such as cleaning the cafeteria, or emptying the trash, or vacuuming the classrooms. These are similar to the chores many parents require their kids to do at home, and it would allow 12- and 13- year olds to make money they desperately need. Giving children the opportunity to earn money would help teach work habits, and letting them do so in their schools would build a stronger commitment to that community.

But firing adult custodians (thus contributing to the poverty of their families) and replacing them with kids is not necessarily uplifting communities.  Another way to empower students could be to keep them out of the criminal justice system, and end the school-to-prison pipeline that arrests one New York City student a day -- the majority of whom are black, and in poor neighborhoods -- for offenses as trivial as disorderly conduct and riding a bicycle on the sidewalk. 

AlterNet / By Kristen Gwynne

Posted at December 28, 2011, 9:42am

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