What Job?

I am in agreement that we need to give students real responsibility for their environment in school. Kids need to be responsible for picking up after themselves, for noticing when papers are on the floor, for taking care of their commonly shared spaces. I get that.

However, I read something in several news sources that made me cringe. Here’s a link to  a proposal from republican presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich. In short, Newt wants students to replace union janitors/custodians in school and get paid for doing so.

Now if you want to earn a popularity contest with the conservative wing just mention “union” and come up with a replacement (or don’t come up with one). Also use the buzzword “bootstrap”, which apparently Gingrich did:

Currently child-labor laws and unions keep poor students from bootstrapping their way into middle class, Mr. Gingrich said.

Let’s cut to the chase here: no amount of  money paid to a child (as opposed to negotiated pay earned by adults) to keep the school clean is going to result in a move up the economic ladder. And, P.S.,  those child labor laws are there for a reason.  Mr. Gingrich may wish to revisit a history book – or even Wikipedia.

Correct me if I have misunderstood, isn’t a child’s “job” in school to learn? At least that is what I have always told my own child and the students I have taught for over 25 years.

When there is blood or vomit involved, no one should have to call an underage child to clean up. Universal precautions with fluids are serious.

Students should pick up after themselves – yes – just like they should help out at home. They shouldn’t expect to be paid for taking care of their own spaces; they should learn to be responsible because it is the right thing to do.

A student’s job in school is to learn.