Gingrich: Laws preventing child labor are 'truly stupid'
November 19th, 2011
07:38 PM ET
8 years ago

Gingrich: Laws preventing child labor are 'truly stupid'

(CNN) - Newt Gingrich proposed a plan Friday that would allow poor children to clean their schools for money, saying such a setup would both allow students to earn income and endow them with a strong work ethic.

Speaking at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, the former House Speaker said his system would be an improvement on current child labor laws, which he called "truly stupid."

"It is tragic what we do in the poorest neighborhoods, entrapping children in child laws which are truly stupid," Gingrich said. "Saying to people you shouldn't go to work before you're 14, 16. You're totally poor, you're in a school that's failing with a teacher that's failing."

Gingrich then proposed a system he said would help those students rise from poverty.

"I tried for years to have a very simple model. These schools should get rid of unionized janitors, have one master janitor, pay local students to take care of the school. The kids would actually do work; they'd have cash; they'd have pride in the schools. They'd begin the process of rising."

Gingrich pointed to successful acquaintances as examples of the benefits of beginning a job early in life.

"Go out and talk to people who are really successful in one generation," Gingrich said. "They all started their first job at 9 to 14 years of age. They are selling newspapers, going door to door, washing cars. They were all making money at a very young age. What do we say to poor kids in poor neighborhoods? Don't do it. Remember all the stuff about not getting a hamburger-flipping job? Worst possible advice to give the poor children."

Gingrich said his idea would be "making work worthwhile" for children.


Filed under: 2012 • Jobs • Newt Gingrich
soundoff (528 Responses)
  1. GonzoG

    Oh, Gee, instead of some parent's job being taken by an illegal immigrant working for a janitorial service that the school outsourced the mom or dad's job to, it can be taken by their kid working for pocket money.

    Real in touch, Newt.

    How about come up with a plan to GET PEOPLE GOOD JOBS, not one to REPLACE LOW END WORKERS with EVEN CHEAPER LABORERS!

    November 19, 2011 10:26 pm at 10:26 pm |
  2. GL

    – Newt Gingrich proposed a plan Friday that would allow poor children to clean their schools for money, saying such a setup would both allow students to earn income and endow them with a strong work ethic.

    This racist pig will never get no where near the White House to make kids work like slaves.

    November 19, 2011 10:26 pm at 10:26 pm |
  3. James

    Fire janitors and put kids under 14 years of age to work cleaning schools? You want children to handle the work while you lay off adult workers, Mr. Gingrich? Sounds like a quick and dirty (pardon the pun) way to cut costs. Those janitors usually live in the same districts where they work. How is firing someone's dad so you can hire their child for less money and no union benefits "helping" the family? You, sir, are insane. Stay far, far away from the Oval Office.

    November 19, 2011 10:28 pm at 10:28 pm |
  4. Beth Smarr

    In my 33 years teaching in public schools, I fought to get the child labor laws enforced! Children working until after midnight, sleeping in class because they are truly tired, and not being prepared because the time is not there to do studying or homework – these are the things that cause failing students and failing schools. Give the students good meals and enough rest – they will be off like rockets.

    November 19, 2011 10:29 pm at 10:29 pm |
  5. IVOTE

    Wow Newton.... How low can you go when it comes to the children of those who don't have a half Million dollar charge account an Tiffany's. Send your grandchildren to clean the schools for pay. Brush up on the child labor laws before you make more stupid suggestions. Support education.

    November 19, 2011 10:29 pm at 10:29 pm |
  6. Anonymous

    How about just providing a quality education for ALL of our children in a safe environment? It looks like Newt is going after unons and using children as their replacements. What a guy.

    November 19, 2011 10:31 pm at 10:31 pm |
  7. mom of 2

    I think getting kids to work is a great idea. Not sure that having the "poor" kids clean up after their more well off classmates is the way to go about it, though...

    November 19, 2011 10:31 pm at 10:31 pm |
  8. ronnie

    Another intellectual and moral lightweight!!!

    November 19, 2011 10:31 pm at 10:31 pm |
  9. HT

    Crazy. The job of public education is to help kids spends lots of money on colleges for liberal arts degrees, not teaching them about life skills like managing money, but instead, teaching them chemistry, literature, and how to exercise.

    Also, up is down and down is up.

    November 19, 2011 10:32 pm at 10:32 pm |
  10. Anonymous

    Is he kidding. Does he really believe he knows any thing about poor kids.

    November 19, 2011 10:33 pm at 10:33 pm |
  11. Logic

    woooooooow the GOP is now promoting child labor, and economics policies bringing us back to the days of Laissez Faire. They want to end unions as well....

    Looks like they're trying to bring us right back to the pre-depression era industrial age that destroyed our economy once already.

    November 19, 2011 10:33 pm at 10:33 pm |
  12. Pete

    Is this man serious, take that crap to your white neighbors. Let's see how they like it. Forget about instilling in our kids the desire to learn and the value of an education but instead let the little poor children just become indenture servants.

    November 19, 2011 10:33 pm at 10:33 pm |
  13. lambsBread

    GOP POSSIBLE CONTENDERS:
    1. Sarah Palin
    2. Arnold Schwarzenegger
    3. Donald Trump
    4. Michelle Bachmann
    5. Mitt Romney
    6. Herman Cain
    7. Rick Perry
    8. Newt Gingrch
    9. Donald Duck

    November 19, 2011 10:34 pm at 10:34 pm |
  14. anonymous

    what planet does this man live on?

    November 19, 2011 10:34 pm at 10:34 pm |
  15. No More Taxes

    Totally agree except why should schools get all the cheap labor. Why not expand this out such that poor kids take all the jobs too menial for normal people? You know, like making shoes in a Dickensiean factory?

    In fact, all these labor laws are SO constrictive. If I want to hire a young woman to be my "personal" assistant, I should be able to. I'm just suggesting we formalize typical business practices. RE: Herman Cain. What's could be wrong with that?

    November 19, 2011 10:34 pm at 10:34 pm |
  16. somewhat confused

    Newt Gingrich is "truly stupid"...

    November 19, 2011 10:34 pm at 10:34 pm |
  17. aimee

    What an idiot. Pray for him.

    November 19, 2011 10:35 pm at 10:35 pm |
  18. Cheryl

    But hypothetically this is also what could happen- poor parents would force their kids to go clean the school, kid gets paid for the work they did, money goes to parents to buy more booze and drugs, thus perpetuating and possibly exacerbating the problem. Kid feels cheated in life because even mom or dad steals from them...hardly the embodiment of a strong work ethic ensues. I think if this plan were to be successful the kid's earnings would need to be protected from their own parents and I don't think the government's going to want to step into that mess.

    November 19, 2011 10:35 pm at 10:35 pm |
  19. Texas Tumbleweed

    Seriously, how can anyone justify voting for a republican?

    November 19, 2011 10:36 pm at 10:36 pm |
  20. Julio

    I teach 5th grade social studies, and we cover labor unions and child labor. I can't believe this guy's ignorance. He is "truly stupid".

    November 19, 2011 10:36 pm at 10:36 pm |
  21. Aaron

    Wow he is as dumb as he looks. Lets not fix our school system, let's just make a cast system so the haves can look down on the have not's mopping the floor. And what about the adult who makes a living cleaning the school, now they are unemployed. Use your heads people, Obama isn't great but these republicans are truly a joke!

    November 19, 2011 10:37 pm at 10:37 pm |
  22. matt comfort

    typical. fire all the union workers and hire 5 year olds to handle toxic cleaning chemicals with no training and no benefits. what a soulless basta*d

    November 19, 2011 10:38 pm at 10:38 pm |
  23. Neil

    I can't help but feel that this proposition would create an embarrassing two tier class in schools; the have nots that have to work to clean them, and the haves that get to mess them up.

    November 19, 2011 10:38 pm at 10:38 pm |
  24. Jon

    Yes kids! Why deal drugs when you can earn less than minimum wage (presumably) by being a janitor at your school. This will work perfectly!

    November 19, 2011 10:39 pm at 10:39 pm |
  25. Rebulicansaredumbducks

    Wow this guy is a genius.

    November 19, 2011 10:39 pm at 10:39 pm |
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