Sunday, December 4, 2011

We Don't Need Kid Janitors...

Ok, Newt Gingrich is now saying that "urban" (read: black and brown), children don't know the value of work because most of them are living in areas where most people don't have a job or when they do work, it is illegal. So, he is advocating that this kids should work in their schools including, but not limited to, being a janitor in the school; thereby you fire the Janitor and save money right?

Ok, there's merit to his argument but not in the way he thinks it is.

1. All children should participate in the running of their school at every level, including the BASIC cleaning of it.  Children in urban, rural, and suburban background should know how to take care of the environments that are important to their development such as their homes, schools, places of worship and community centers - - not just "urban" kids.  I know plenty of "suburban" kids who can't take care of themselves let alone anyone else.

2. As Charles Blow says in his op-ed, most people in inner cities work, but not necessarily the jobs that get them anywhere.  When you don't see that the jobs your parents do gives them enjoyment or lead them anywhere, why would you respect those jobs?  As I've suggested in an earlier post, there is a two-tiered society of the haves (those with computers, technology, etc) and the have nots.  The haves - -  regardless of their economic background - - will move on to possibly become successful because they can see many different avenues towards success.  (One of my student's mother has a 'wall of success' in her house of all the awards her 4th grade daughter has won over the years.  She showed me a picture of it, and proudly calls her daughter a nerd.  It's very obvious this woman is probably on public assistance.) If you grow up believing being a sports star, a model, a reality TV star or a rapper are your only paths to financial success, then essentially you feel you don't have a good chance in life.  Gingrich needs to refine his message to include the understanding of WHY children are having difficulty internalizing success models.

3. There is a dearth of PARENTING SKILLS within the black community.  YEA I SAID IT! A LOT OF US DON'T KNOW HOW TO PARENT!  I see it all the time.  This is the clearest explanation for a lot of the problems we see with children.  
If you let your child goto sleep at 1am - you have a parenting problem.  
If your child doesn't know how to speak to adults in anything other than slang - you have a parenting problem.  
If your child cannot read, calculate, and write more than 3 sentences in a straight line by the age 8 - you have a parenting problem.  
If your child has learning deficiencies and you haven't found a way to work with him and your child is running wild in the streets - you have a parenting problem.
If your child's hair is unkept and it nappy and has lint in it and their teeth have gold caps on them - you have a parenting problem.

These are not problems of poverty, these are problems of PARENTING.  Black people have been poor for centuries in this country and have still raised children well, and many times to greatness.  I am no fan of Gingrich but there is something to be said for a certain amount of work being done in schools to help create a sense of pride in children, for both themselves and their communities. That he can say some dumb-ass-stupid things such as the child labor laws need to be revamped is just Gingrich being just that, a dumb ass.

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