New Gingrich Calls Child Labor Laws 'Truly Stupid'

Promising “extraordinarily radical proposals to fundamentally change the culture of poverty in America,” Newt Gingrich said Monday that he would fire school janitors and pay students to clean schools instead.

Speaking at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, the Republican presidential candidate and former speaker of the House challenged laws that prevent children from working certain jobs before their mid-teens.

Newt Gingrich Calls Child Labor Laws ‘Truly Stupid’

In Japan the students have to clean all the facilities they use - pool, gymnasium, classrooms, club rooms, and lavatories. They don’t get paid for it directly but they are effectively contracted to that labor as part of the privilege of their education.

Back in my old Jesuit Highschool we had to complete a semester of service in our senior year - labor for an approved non-profit project - or else we didn’t graduate. Students serving detention or suspension were traditionally set to work under the janitorial staff for things like trash collection, cleaning, or removing ice and snow during the winter time.

  • Marty Lund

The Catholic K-8 school that I attended, and that my children attend, required us to clean the rooms before we left for the day. We washed the boards, swept the room, emptied the milk cartons, took attendance sheets to the principal, cleaned erasers, and set up for the next day.

It is certainly not the same as doing the heavy janitorial work, but we were, in fact, cleaning up after ourselves. Why shouldn’t we?

Every year some of the kids from the Catholic school go on to public high school, and always ask at the end of the day if “we are reeealllly going to leave the chalkboard dirty like that”. It’s good for a laugh or two…

When I was in Catholic grade school, we cleaned the classrooms and halls daily, washed the blackboards, dusted the erasers, set out the chalk, took out the trash and burned it in an incinerator. Never got a dime for it. Well, I will admit that sometimes the nuns’ housekeeper (also a nun) would give us some baked thing or other. I see nothing wrong with having students do it.

I agree with Newt.

I’m not too fond of the janitors anyway. A union rule is that a janitor must be paid during any use of the building. So private groups using the public school facilities pay out the nose for the janitor, even if they clean up everything themselves.

We were not able to use our own parish chapel for children’s adoration because of the cost of paying a janitor who MUST be paid if a group uses the bldg., even if there is no clean up.

Unions have such power in the schools that children have been even banned in some places from planting small gardens and flower boxes around the school as part of a school project.

Child labor laws are in place to protect children from exploitation, not to protect the labor force from competition from children. The days of children being beaten with boards with nails in them to get them to go down into the coals mines have long since passed though.

:rolleyes: So now the latest GOP frontrunner thinks child labor laws are stupid.

Dusting off erasers is hardly the only labor at which janitors toil.

  1. Child labour, in its intolerable forms, constitutes a kind of violence that is less obvious than others but it is not for this reason any less terrible. This is a violence that, beyond all political, economic and legal implications, remains essentially a moral problem. Pope Leo XIII issued the warning: “in regard to children, great care should be taken not to place them in workshops and factories until their bodies and minds are sufficiently developed. For, just as very rough weather destroys the buds of spring, so does too early an experience of life’s hard toil blight the young promise of a child’s faculties, and render any true education impossible”.After more than a hundred years, the blight of child labour has not yet been overcome.

Even with the knowledge that, at least for now, in certain countries the contribution made by child labour to family income and the national economy is indispensable, and that in any event certain forms of part-time work can prove beneficial for children themselves, the Church’s social doctrine condemns the increase in “the exploitation of children in the workplace in conditions of veritable slavery”. This exploitation represents a serious violation of human dignity, with which every person, “no matter how small or how seemingly unimportant in utilitarian terms”, is endowed.

”I tried for years to have a very simple model,” he continued. “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’d have pride in the schools, they’d begin the process of rising.”


I do think that there is great, great value in children doing clean up jobs at school. Like several posters above, I fondly remember chores at Catholic school (helping the janitor,*** not ***replacing her). We loved the break from regular classes and treasured our reputation of ‘cleanest school in the city’.

That being said, Gingrich’s statement brings to mind the warning against throwing the baby out with the bathwater. Child labor laws should be sensible but they are still relevant, if only because their very effectiveness is the reason such laws may no longer seem necessary.

As much as I’d like to see every janitor across our great nation fired, I fail to see how this would change anything. Unfortunately, Gingrich has fully endorsed the idea that our economic and cultural woes can be cured with less regulation.

Well, starting them out young like this I think eventually it would give some children a respect for their environment that many do not have today. What would be the point in vandalizing a school like many kids do every year if your the one stuck cleaning it up. Just imagine what you’d do to a classmate if the word got around that he poured animal urine on the floors and your class was stuck with cleaning it up.

And yes it happened at a fairly preppy school in Richmond, VA.

Well, starting them out young like this I think eventually it would give some children a respect for their environment that many do not have today.

If family life is broken and the same garbage is filling their heads, firing janitors will not help one iota. Responsibility and good behavior is best learned at home with a mother and father.

Yes, they also (gasp!) plunge and clean toilets and may even have to repair a toilet valve, which requires the use of a sharp screwdriver! Additionally, they sweep, strip, mop, and wax floors, clean up graffiti, and scrape up chewing gum. These are all things I did when I was a child working a summer job as a janitor in my junior high school multiple decades ago, and it did not kill me. I did similar work in my father’s business as a child. Any kid who works at McDonalds or Greasy Species Burger is a janitor when the doors close, and they work twice as fast as your average unionized public school janitor. I perfected my waxing technique in the Marine Corps where the standards were higher and the "conditions of veritable slavery” were not so hyperbolic, but I wasn’t much older than when Jimmuh Carter employed me as an abused child janitor under the CEDA program. I guess Democrats think child labor laws are stupid, too – especially when it gives them a chance to waste public money in an effort to buy a few more votes. Didn’t work with my parents, but nice try, Jimmuh.

Like others, I have spent many hours in Japanese public schools. When it is time to clean up, those kids are crack troops. Here’s a video link of how easily unionized janitors can be replaced by a bunch of 5 year olds who aren’t terrified that a little physical activity is going to reduce them to tears.

Yes, many child labor laws are, in fact, STUPID. Considering that they tend to be supported by the same crowd that is failing to bathe while occupying public parks and whining about capitalism, this should not need explanation. And yet, it apparently does. Mopping floors in a heated classroom is a lot easier than playing full contact football in snow flurries at the same age. I speak from experience.

Oh, good, more unemployed. That’s just what this economy needs.

CONFER: Changes to child labor laws hurt farmers

Farming is not a job. It’s a lifestyle. The job is never done, and it’s never easy; it takes a special soul to work the long, hard days during the planting and harvesting seasons or live the vacation-free existence that comes with animal husbandry. At the same time, it’s the most important industry on the planet, and farmers will tell you it’s the most fulfilling: Besides raising a family, there is little on Earth more rewarding than tending the soil and growing from it — and raising on it — valuable nourishment for others.

To prepare someone for that intense lifestyle you need to start young and introduce teens to the work ethic and investment of self that are necessary to develop a love affair with farming. Youth have long been able to participate in agricultural work but that could change soon. The Obama administration has unveiled a series of proposed revisions to child labor law specific to farming. Citing provisions that have remained virtually untouched since 1970, the administration felt compelled to modernize them. That act of modernization will irreparably harm farming’s future by destroying its very foundation — the youth who should represent tomorrow’s workforce and farm owners.

Under the new rules, the Department of Labor would end most child labor exemptions that currently exist in farming by denying work to anyone under the age of 16, unless the farm is owned by their parents and one of the parents is directly overseeing their work.

Furthermore, most 14- and 15-year-old workers would be prevented from operating any tractor, all-terrain vehicle, milking machine, or lawn mower. Now, exemptions exist that allow them to operate such equipment given they complete a 24 hour safety course, typically provided by the private sector via farm bureaus or through public-private Cooperative Extension offices. The proposed rules would create and require a 90-hour course that could only be taught through government-run secondary and/or vocational schools. This would add another layer of federal bureaucracy to local school districts; increase the cost to taxpayers associated with the wages, benefits and pensions for the newfound teaching positions; or, more likely, deprive thousands of youth of farming opportunity because their local schools — or any one within reasonable commute — will be unable to provide them the necessary training.

Wrong, if family life is broken there would be no other place for them to learn such a responsibility than school. I agree with your second sentence however children tend to spend more time at school with teachers and other students than they do at home with their parents during the school year. What better way to teach them responsibility than to work together to keep their environment nice and clean.

In my school, the baseball team had to help the coach maintain the baseball field on a daily basis during baseball season. The only part I disagree with here is the firing the janitors and paying the students. Don’t pay the students a dime, and let the janitors be their boss instead.

I agree if it is necessary to keep the schools open and functional to pay the kids some kind of stipend for some tasks like janitorial tasks… at least for older kids Not sure where we got into the idea 17 year olds can’t work. It was common for us to clean chalkboards, straighten out classrooms and do AV work when I was a student. A lot of what we did was for free.

Yeah, the government will save us. :rolleyes:

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