Newt Gingrich: Fire The Janitors, Let The Kids Clean The Schools
Apropos of James Joyner’s post this morning, one of Newt Gingrich’s greatest undoings has been his prediliction to talk about things without necessarily thinking about them. One example of that can be found in some comments he made in Massachusetts yesterday:
Via POLITICO’s Reid Epstein, Newt Gingrich tonight said at an address at Harvard that child work laws “entrap” poor children into poverty – and suggested that a better way to handle failing schools is to fire the janitors, hire the local students and let them get paid for upkeep.
The comment came in response to an undergrad’s question about income equality during his talk at Harvard’s Kennedy School.
“This is something that no liberal wants to deal with,” Gingrich said. “Core policies of protecting unionization and bureaucratization against children in the poorest neighborhoods, crippling them by putting them in schools that fail has done more to create income inequality in the United States than any other single policy. It is tragic what we do in the poorest neighborhoods, entrapping children in, first of all, child laws, which are truly stupid.
“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.”
He added, “You go out and talk to people, as I do, you go out and talk to people who are really successful in one generation. They all started their first job between nine and 14 years of age. They all were either selling newspapers, going door to door, they were doing something, they were washing cars.”
That’s Newt for you. Going from the not-so-bad idea that it’s a good idea to teach teenagers the value of a dollar, even if that means they just earn a few bucks cutting lawns in the neighborhood, to the idea that they should become janitor apprentices. Because we all know the successful career that will lead to. This is why I don’t see Gingrich lasting.