On Tuesday during a Washington Post event, Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant suggested that mothers in the workplace started the decline in the American education system.
In my well-educated opinion, I can’t imagine a more stupid comment.
“I’m going to get in trouble. You want me to tell the truth? You know I’m thinking both parents started working,” Bryant said in response to a question about why the country’s education system has gotten so mediocre. “The mother is in the work place.”
Apparently, he tried to clarify his remarks saying that “both parents are so pressured” in modern family situations.
Both parents? Modern family situation? I’m not sure what world Bryant lives in, but many American children don’t have the luxury of even having two parents in the home.
His comments come on the heels of a study released last week by the Pew Research Center that found mothers are the sole or primary breadwinners of 40% of American households with children under age 18. The share was just 11% in 1960.
Although I’m a working mom,I have to admit I’ve never been the primary breadwinner in our “modern family.” I also know my husband wouldn’t complain if I were.
In reality, I’ve never held a high paying job, but I’ve also never worked just for the money. I’ve worked in positions that, I hope, have made the world a better place – similar to all those working moms in our schools. I wonder what would happen to our education system if all of the moms who serve as teachers, principals, counselors, social workers, librarians, psychologists, cooks and aides quit to stay home with their children.
I know the students wouldn’t be better off, just as my children wouldn’t be if I stayed home with them.
For many years, our family needed my income to help meet our basic needs and to keep my children warm, safe and dry. I’m sure the single, working mothers would say the same.
My children also needed me to work for my sanity. I’m just not cut out to be a stay-at-home mom. I quickly learned that trying to arrange play dates and doing arts and crafts drained me. I get my energy from working in the community, and I bring that energy home to better meet the needs of my family.
Most of my work involved helping communities look for solutions rather than blame and point fingers for social, education and other problems. For example, extensive research on brain development indicates that what happens between the ages of zero and three affects our ability to learn, If our education system shifted some of it resources and focus to the very young, children might actually be better prepared for academic learning and our education system might gain some ground.
I’d point that out to Governor Bryant, but I’m pretty sure he wouldn’t notice. He’s too busy pointing his finger at me, a working mom.