Gingrich on Poor Children: Put Them to Work


by Brian Washington, photo courtesy of Gage Skidmore

Newt Gingrich—who currently rests atop the list of Republican presidential hopefuls in the polls—is creating a firestorm across the country with his jaw-dropping view of poor children—who he says have “no habits of working” and no one around them with a job.

“So they literally have no habit of showing up on Monday,” said the former House speaker at a campaign event in Iowa. “They have no habit of staying all day. They have no habit of ‘I do this and you give me cash,’ unless it’s illegal.”

According to recent reports, 1 out of every 5 children lives in poverty. The Census Bureau reports an increase in the number of children under the age of 18 living in poverty, which now has climbed to 16.4 million.

However, instead of acknowledging the devastating impact that the economy and unemployment are currently having on our communities, Gingrich—who says he is going to be the Republican nominee for President—essentially smears the parents of these children by indicating they are lazy, have no work ethic, and are teaching their children to be criminals.

To make matters worse, the Former Speaker of the House thinks that schools in low-income neighborhoods should fire all the custodians and janitors and—despite child labor laws—replace them with kids.

The statements made by Gingrich—who is currently on a three-day campaign swing through the Hawkeye State—conjure up images of the early 1900s when children were forced to work in sweatshops.

NEA President Dennis Van Roekel took to Twitter to blast Gingrich’s remarks—calling them “offensive to all Americans, especially poor children, and unbecoming of anyone seeking the White House.”

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Reader Comments

  1. I’m pretty amazed by the letters flying around this website. First, are there really teachers who are unfamiliar with hyperlinks? The above article from NEA is very 21st century. The quotes by the candidates (taken out of context) are intended to get you to read the entire context which is attached through the hyperlink in each case. The hyperlinks are the words underlined in blue, which, if you use your mouse to click on them will take you to the complete speeches or interviews in which the quotes are found.

    Secondly, I can hardly believe that educators (on both sides of the political spectrum) are so closed minded that they are actually angry at people who disagree with them. As educators, we should be in the business of showing tolerance for diverse opinions in our classrooms and in the culture at large. If you disagree with someone, present the facts that you believe show them to be incorrect. Don’t call them names, don’t belittle their ideas.

    That said, I’m really enjoying this primary race, because if the candidates continue to say what they really think, this presidential race should result an Obama re-election.

  2. I think Newt needs to think before he speaks. I am a certified School Nurse in Illinois, in one of the largest school districts. We have many families that are ‘very poor’, but most are working poor. The terms “poo”r and “lazy” are all relative terms. For example, one family I knew were , 1. Hispanic Americans, 2. married, 3, had only one child and 4. did not have jobs. On the surface you may say they were lazy, but….. 1. the mother was attending school full time to become a medical assistant, going to clinicals during the day was required (with no pay ;she only had a few months until she completed her degree). 2. the father was a brick layer that had been recently laid off, and managed to freelance a side job he was able to find, but the contractor did not pay him; he can’t afford an attorney to collect.; he actively sought work for months with no offers in his field and 3. the child had respiratory issues and required medication on a regular basis, (no more insurance) 4. the house they had rented burned down, so they moved in with family. They did NOT qualify for any food stamps, welfare etc, even temporarily, because they lived with family. Yes, I know families who abuse the system, but the majority of my families have similar stories as this family. I think this family had a great work ethic , even though they were VERY poor, through no fault of their own. Eventually, Mom graduated and found a low paying entry job (not in her field), the father found a low paying warehouse job (not in his field) and we found a free clinic to get medical help and meds for the child. I have not had contact with this family for three years, and hope the years have been kind to them, they deserve a break. Newt would have been lucky to be in this family! What happened to him to make him so bitter?

  3. Newt is pandering to the ignorant bigots who believe the poor are sitting home on welfare. He also seems to be labouring under the delusion that all poor people are drug pushers and drug addicts. The poor are now farmers, retail workers, service workers healthcare workers and general laborers. Their children see them working two and three jobs. No one this misinformed should be allowed to run for public office.

    1. There are no “poor” in the US. Even those below the poverty level are rich when compared to global standrds of living. I lived in a house with no running water, and no heat and often very little food. I still received an education, graduated from college and now earn a good living. We are not victims of our circumstances if we learn good work ethics. My parents refused public assistance and sacrificed to see that I received a good education. My father was a 25yr public school teacher in the NY state school system. He knew what the NEA and teachers unions were doing to education and he refused to send us to public schools. Newt has it right when he advocates ending the Department of Education and the tyrannical reign of educational bureaucrats and teachers unions. He wants to once again make education about children learning rather than protecting teachers and their salaries with tenure. There’s a few folks here who would do well for themselves to watch “Waiting for Superman”.

  4. In Utah, at least two districts I am familiar with, junior and high school students can/do work at schools in an after-school job cleaning environment. They have to interview and fill out an application just like any other job. However, there are not enough jobs for all the “poverty” stricken students. If the educational system is already having a hard time funding what is essential, how are they going to fund paying all the “poor students?” Will, god forbid, “President” Newt G. see that there is guaranteed money to see this through?
    Even if it is just in the, “really poor” areas? How do we determine which “poor” students are “really poor” and which are just “poor?” In America, we, public schools, teach all students. It doesn’t matter what their circumstances are, and whether are not we like their “attitude” or not.

  5. As a long time special education teacher in a Title 1 school district, I agree with Newt although I wouldn’t vote for him for president. Most of my students come for free breakfast and get free llunch. Some oftheir parents lie on their application for free meals and no one bothers to check. Many of the parents don’t work although some have minimum wage jobs. The children have no work ethic as they have no parental model. I think these kids would benefit from being given after school jobs starting in 6th grade, perhaps throgh the school district, and janitorial assistant might be one of those jobs. No shame there. They need to develop a strong work ethic, learn responsibility, and realize they they are the person in charge of decisions regarding thier own futrues.

    1. Judging from your typographical errors, maybe you should be working as a janitor as well. If you are the special education teacher and you care so little about what you present to the public when you issue comments, then you are certainly not caring about helping the special education students. I say they have a right to an education just like anyone else. Some students are in special education classes because of a learning disability only in one area…they attend and do well in other regular classes. Who knows what a little extra caring and special attention can contribute to them becoming successful? Maybe you should try it.

  6. one of the things that has brought this country down is the idea that it is so wrong to teach children some responsibility and to instill a work ethic by making them do some work. Instead we have a welfare state where we’ve taught them they don’t have to do anything but take from those who are stupid enough to think they have to work. Go Newt. You are right on target!

  7. Talk about glass houses! Just when did Gingrich ever experience “habits of working” himself? This coming from a fellow who was born on third base and acts as if he’s hit a triple…

  8. Exactly want Republicans want- to create a permanent underclass. Have poor children working manual labor jobs until the day they die, while nonpoor children concentrate on their education and future careers. Gingrich is not qualified not only to be President but is not qualified to have an intelligent conversation at the adult table. Stay at the kiddie table.

  9. To label all poor people as lazy, unmotivated, and involved in illegal activities is heartless and shortsighted. As a teacher of 25+ years, I have certainly seen a few “poor” people who fit these categories; however, the vast majority of students and parents I have had from low economic situations do not fit these categories at all. Mr. Gingrich is fortunate that he has not had to deal personally with some of the issues persons from lower economic levels deal with on a daily basis. Health problems and lack of medical care, mental/intellectual problems, lack of suitable jobs, job layoffs, lack of reliable transportation, lack of child care…I could go on and on about the daily problems of the poor I know. Few people would choose any of these problems, as they are not pleasant at all, but they exist for so many people. Children do not get a choice as to whether they are born into these situations, and it is true that they often need special help to break the poverty cycle; however namecalling by pompous politicians serves no helpful purpose in this situation. I wish Mr. Gingrich could meet some of my former students who were poor but who have worked hard to improve their lots in life. I ran into one of them yesterday at a restaurant where my husband and I were dining. This young lady came from a family where both parents lost their jobs when the company they both worked for closed. The family lost their home, but despite severe economic hardships, their daughter (the oldest of three children)

    1. I reviewed the video twice , as well as read the entire speech elsewhere on line and cannot determine where you heard Gingrich said ALL poor people are lazy, etc.Perhaps his remarks can be taken in a general sense depending on one’s bias, but his points regarding work ethics, motivation etc are certainly valid in among many who proclaim themselves to be poor..

  10. 1. He is assuming that all poor children are taught to engage in illegal activities and to shun hard work. ( Hmm…I grew up very poor, have at times held two or three jobs at once and am now a teacher)

    2. How are poor children going to be able to to concentrate on their education and future if they are working penny ante jobs just to stay busy?

    3. Where is the plan to help poor children reach for a higher education ( the key to leaving poverty)?

  11. I find this article and many of the comments appalling. Considering that these comments are coming from “educators”, there is no wonder our education system is in decline. There is a lot of pretense from the left end of the political spectrum about how concerned they are about their students. Yet, they refuse to consider any idea that does not conform to their narrow world view.

    Having lived, worked and traveled in impoverished nation, I can attest to the fact that it is not uncommon for students to cheerfully pitch in to help with the cleanliness of their humble school facilities. As mentioned in the article, it is common practice in Japan, which could certainly afford to hire out the work the students perform. Through the practice of holding students responsible for their spaces, they learn cooperation, work ethics and a sense of ownership and pride in their school.

    I’m sure there are a number of the older teachers who attended schools here in the U.S. who remember when it was common practice for students to assist in the cleanliness of their classrooms, as well as assisting in lunchroom and other duties. I really don’t think it left us with any emotional scars or damaged our self-esteem. In fact, I would venture to say, it is quite the opposite.

    1. I too went to a school where we cleaned our desks and swept the floors after class projects. There is a big difference between what I did and what Mr. Gingrich is promoting. He wants to fire adults so that children can do their work. Including cleaning toilets and mopping up vomit.
      Bad enough some kids are born into poverty but then to have elected officials denigate you for you poverty and suggest that we return to the 19th century for solutions is ridiculous. Obviously, you are part of the 1%.

    2. Clearly, Mr. Gingrich was not talking about students taking responsibility for the care and upkeep of their own school – so I do not understand your comments.
      Further, does Mr. Gingrich have no notion of the working poor? The millions of families earning under $30,000/year? The men and women who lost their jobs because of an economy created by previous republican administrations? Because of a banking industry shamelessly gone amuck? These children understand all to well about hard work to put food on the table.

    3. I have taught in several secondary and postsecondary schools where students worked in custodial, maintenance, power plant, farm or grounds, food service, clerical, and other jobs at school. HOWEVER, these activities were open to ALL students and not required of any based on parental income level. In fact, in one school, manual labor was a required portion of the curriculum and EVERY student participated. None were exempt and students rotated around the industries to broaden their skills. Some parents of wealth chose this private school for the practical skills their children gained.

      In horrifying contrast to this egalitarian approach, to require some to do work others don’t want to do, simply because of their parents’ economic or even their parents’ social status,creates not only a class system, but a CASTE system, an accident of birth. (Oh wait. Since God ordains circumstances of birth, then God ordains an aristocracy, a Reich auf aller Weld, richtig?)

      With this guy as president, public education can be free only for those who don’t qualify for or accept the free lunch card. The rest would pay with their backs, their study time, and their dignity. This could save LOTS of money, not only on the payroll but also in the lunchroom, and leave more for the private consultants already sucking the life out of the public school. And here’s another tempting option: make the the little ragamuffins work & don’t feed them. Lose those pesky and stigmatizing free lunches. Kids will thank you for not making them eat.

      Just load up the cattle cars & fire up the ovens, Newtie. Destination: Central School Branch, Auschwitz District.)

  12. I’m trying to understand the argument of some people. If I see that my students have the guts, determination and ability to make more of themselves, then I shouldn’t foster their success? I would be doing a disservice as an educator to assume every poor student wants to stay in their current situation. Granted, the lure of handouts and crime is strong. I fail to see where empowering my students to take pride in a job well done makes me a bad teacher. Additionally, I agree that children shouldn’t be cleaning vomit (they have to be bloodborne certified and over 18) but I see nothing wrong with using students to clean graffiti or other like duties. Start with those in detention. It would do both the students and the facility some good.

    1. This is in response to Melissa C. I quote her point, “If I see that my students have the guts, determination and ability to make more of themselves, then I shouldn’t foster their success? I would be doing a disservice as an educator to assume every poor student wants to stay in their current situation”.
      Well, Melissa, of course you are, as an educator, giving the student AN EDUCATION, so that they may have greater success in life.
      And when you say “Start with those in detention”, you seem to imply that you DO understand the punitive nature of requiring students to perform labor. Enough said.

      1. “punitive nature of requiring students to perform labor”…. Your problem Tanya is you see work as punitive instead of a chance to learn responsibility.

  13. Newt alway has and always will be an arrogantly condescending personality that finds empathy impossible for those he considers inferior to him and his self-aggrandizement. There are so many things wrong with his stereotyping of a whole class of people here and their children I don’t know where to begin. There is a complete denigration of all of the child labor legislation here. Charles Dickens would spit directly into Newt’s red face. There is a typical ultra-conservative’s desire for the cheapest labor possible here. There is a total indifference here toward how child labor would take away still more of the jobs of people who haven’t the skills or education to compete for many of the other kinds of work. Why is it that Republicans ran on making more jobs and all they’ve been doing since in office is cutting them? And some of the posts on here by so-called “teachers” make me very sick about why they ever, ever decided to teach in the first place. Kids can tell when you look down upon them and they will react accordingly. All of them are smart enough to do so and should be.

    1. I don’t think that anyone on this thread, despite their varying opinions, stated that they look down upon on their students for the position that they are in. What I read is that all of us (Democrat, Republican or Independent) want our students to become successful, productive and RESPONSIBLE citizens. Attacking people as bad teachers because they want their students to expect more for themselves and from themselves is immature and unfair.

  14. Newt is obviously referring to the republican members of Congress who “Have no hahits of working”. When I grew up, we were taught to respect the President, whoever. Our great country used to work together. Also, Newt has tarnished the honor of the true Boston Tea Party. This modern group has forgotten the true ideals of the original Tea Party. Our country worked together, regardless of politics in the original Tea Party against the tyrants of England. The true revolt is in it’s infancy. As long as the rich get richer and the poor get poorer it will grow. Americans want to work together, teach together, and get along together. We don’t need to be a house divided, or our country will be a sitting duck for foreign takeover. Our troops fight for all of us, why doesn’t Congress?

  15. What a travesty that a plump white-haired egotistical immoral male has decided he is the best that America can offer to it’s voters. He seems to believe that he is a “chosen” leader. If enough fools follow him, there really is no hope for the rest of us who value integrity and wisdom in it’s leaders.

  16. Define “children”. I don’t think Newt is talking about emaciated little children covered with soot and toiling in a factory mill. No. Or maybe “children” loosely defined to include grown & able bodied teenagers, like I see everyday, who have absolutely no work ethic whatsoever?? They don’t know what work is. When I was a kid, I was poor, and I worked lots of chores and jobs and I made it! The 16-18 year olds nowadays think that income is derived from more welfare handouts, the way their parents did their parents did. Imagine how outrageous it is that someone suggests that they actually contribute to society!!!

  17. Actually, establishing the qualified to work list in elementary school would be easy to create. Any child who qualifies for a free and reduced lunch, medicaid, or food stamps would be put on a work list. In school districts with a wider range of income diversity, the poor children could then stay in from lunch recess and clean up the cafeteria floor with the janitor while the middle class and wealthy children could go outside to play. Then the school district could automatically collect the cost of the “free lunch” the child received out of his paycheck so he was paying his own way. If you are middle class and your parents become unemployed don’t worry, your family’s inability to pay the registration fees will qualify you for a job. So when someone vomits in the classroom, the teacher need not bother a janitor to come to the classroom to clean, she will simply refer to the identified children on her class list and ask them to clean up the vomit. After all Newt understands that the concept that All men are created equal does not apply to children from economically challenged families.

  18. I am a teacher in low income area. Some parents may not be teaching their kids a work ethic,however,to make a statement like that shows no thought or compassion. What does he care? He has lots of money,doesn’t have to worry about getting a job or how to feed a family. It is a good thing he let his views be known on this subject. If you fire all the janitors and custodians then there is more unemployment. My students can sweep but I do not think my 4th graders know how to fix the lights or plumbing or other things custodians do. I am glad to hear his comments. I do not want to vote for an idiot and now I know he is.

  19. I think it is good that Republicans are taking the position to make people work for what they get. Of course children don’t choose poverty, but it is their choices throughout life that keep them there. Why would anyone want to work a legit job when the Liberals just keep throwing free money at them for continuing to breed? Give people incentive to work, such as limiting the free ride, and they will rise to the occasion. Rewarding bad choices just reinforces the behavior.

  20. This scumbag wants to be President of the United States. This *sshole cheated on jis 1st wife and filed for divorce while she was on chemotherapy battling cancer. He then cheated on the woman that he cheated with, stating that she is not good enough to be a first a lady. Recently he has the collossal set of cojones to comment on how the poor are lazy and are raising their children to be lazy good for nothings. This piece of sh*t wants to be President of the United States…If he wins in 2012, we are all doomed. Where’s Harry Truman when you need him?

    1. ARod, the real question we need to ask when discussing Mr. Gingrich’s views on educating the poor among us, is, “How did Mr. Gingrich encourage his own children to develop that vaunted work ethic when they were going to school?” And a corollary question might be to examine his job performance during the last year (if we agree with the announced hypothesis of his vocational journey into presidential candidacy.) How many days has he taken off the campaign trail, that is, engaging and connecting with real American voters, to visit foreign tourist destinations, to sell and autograph revenue-producing books, to shop for consumer goods, to engage in paid consulting work, etc. etc.?

  21. Charles Dickens had many compassionate and insightful comments in his works concerning the poor, child labor (based on his own very sad experience), debtors’ prisons, workhouses, etc. What an appropriate season to use some of his quotes to remind everyone that we believe that in the 21st century USA, we have moved way beyond those awful 19th century practices. Yet, Newt suggests we should return to such atrocities!!

  22. Newt and others like him are certainly entitled to their opinions, as lame as they may be, but what is really sad is that there are intelligent individuals who buy into this crap with heart and soul. This is what is pathetic.

  23. Have we all forgotten that Gingrich was reprimanded, fined $300,000 and forced to resign as House Speaker because of ethical wrongdoing. And now some folks want to make him President. Amazing… and stupid!

    1. Cindy,
      The measly $100,000 was for a book he had written. PLEEEZE are you kidding about thinking this is inaapropriate. Eveybody is doing that today with NO consequences. Gotta pick something else. Good try though.

    2. And, let’s talk about this in terms of public employees writing things based on work experiences and for work use. Who owns and profits from the teacher’s lesson plans? Do you work in a state or district where you could be fired for selling your lesson plans? Is it unethical to re-use, sell, or even to personally retain, your self-created lessons?

  24. I think Newt is right on the money!!! I taught for 35 years and he is correct, most teenagers do feel that the world owes them a living without working for it as we did. I do believe that the government is at fault for giving too much away without working for it. I cant tell you how easy it is in the state of Pa. to get SSI and other freebies so what do you expect from these kids today.THIS HAS TO STOP!!!! That is why this country is in the shape that it is in.

    1. AMEN! I am a public school teacher, and about 90% of my students’ parents DON”T work! They sit at home, draw off the government, and their children are highly influenced by this. These same people are arrested on a regular basis for selling drugs, prescription no less. It sickens me to hear them tell me that they are “disabled”, but they get around better than I do or have an “anger management” problem and can’t work. I manage to do it every single day! On top of this, if I can’t teach their children, who come from abuse, neglect, sexual assault, etc., I’m a bad teacher. ???
      We’re in a vicious cycle, and if we don’t get some common sense about us, all of these idiots who are disturbed by Gingrich’s comments will destroy our country. I have an idea, let them foot the bill for these people, and their children, and their children, and so on! I’m tired of spending all of my extra money on orthodontist, optometrist, dentist, medical, and childcare expenses while all of these ‘disabled’ people get it for free. They aren’t disabled when it comes to making babies! All we are doing is enabling this entitlement attitude, and it must stop. When I was younger (not that old now), people were ashamed to pay with food stamps; now, they broadcast it like it’s something to brag about. It disgusts me to see a cart full of food that I can’t afford, and someone paying for it with MY money! If people (except our precious seniors) get anything given to them by our government, they should have to do some kind of work for it-community service! If they don’t want to do that, then they must not want to eat! In the mean time, we are neglecting our senior citizens, most of whom made this country great, simply because they have no young children. I’m voting for the person who will hold people accountable and stop this insanity! Those of you who were offended by Newt’s comments, TRY JOINING US IN THE REAL WORLD-it’s not pretty!

      1. I agree with you! My sixth graders are currently working on evaluating resources to determine whether they might contain bias of any sort. The first thing I thought when I read this article was that Mr. Gingrich’s comments had to have been taken out of context because no one in their right mind would suggest firing custodians and violating child labor laws to put children to work. I viewed the 1:30 video embedded in the article and discerned that his main point was not “putting children to work”, but rather providing them opportunities to build a work ethic as a step up the economic ladder. This is especially true if they have come from a situation in which there is very little modeling of strong work ethic.

        After viewing the short clip, I decided that I wanted to see the context of his entire 32 minute speech, which focuses on rebuilding America and restoring the rights promised in our Declaration of Independence for ALL PEOPLE. From everything I heard, he’s right on! (For those who made the comment about him not having to worry about feeding his children or other stressors related to finances, I suppose you’re right. Have you considered though, that he probably put hours and hours of time and money into building the businesses that he owns and therefore has the right to profit from his work?)

        As a teacher, I have seen the work ethic in my students decline steadily during my seven-year career. I am observing in the classroom the disappearance of the middle…students either choose to work or choose not to work. I use the word choose in the last sentence intentionally. They’re very clear through their words and actions that even though they’re able, they will not do what we ask of them. The most frustrating part is that it is then my responsibility to design interventions to help make them successful when they refuse to engage IN ANY WAY! I have to figure out how they’re going to make up their missing assignments, pass their tests, and ultimately pass my class….oh wait, I forgot, even if they receive a failing grade, they still move on to the next level. Pass them on…with or without the skills they need to be successful. Yikes! The system is broken.

        Instead of pouring my time and energy into those who refuse to work, I could be taking that time and dedicating it to the many children of all economic backgrounds and learning styles who come through my door thirsty for knowledge and opportunity. While I have the privilege of working with many wonderful children each day, there has been an alarming increase in children who seem to view doing homework as optional, treating elders with respect as something they can do if they feel like it, and engaging in their schoolwork as some great burden that they have to bear rather than seeing it as the privilege that it is.

        As a country, we need to teach our next generation about the morals and values that made this country great. We live in a free enterprise system, where anyone who wants to work can create wealth for themselves and their families without feeling guilty about it. I also believe that “to whom much is given, much is expected.” We are commanded by God to reach out in faith to serve others less fortunate.

        It’s time for a change. I love teaching. I love kids. I will do what is right for them, no matter what. I want the best for each one of them, but I also want a system that demands their best work on a daily basis in order to succeed, whether that’s in the classroom, in a non-traditional setting, or in the workforce if that’s what they choose.

        1. How can parents teach their kids a “work ethic’ when all of their jobs have sent overseas so the “fat cats” can get fatter? Bring the jobs back to the U.S. and you’ll see the economy improve as well as our nation’s “work ethic”. The question is, how much profit is enough? Gingrich is all about looking the other way, i.e. take breaks for the corporations and blaming our problems on the poor. Give me a break!

  25. It’s a shame that whoever is responsible for this post took a cheap shot and went for the sound byte. Only including the part of the video that makes waves and not bothering to include the part where he explained the idea and how learning a work ethic early on leads to successful, productive people was unfair and clearly biased. This is a sad example of how some in our “professional” organizations let their own politics and agendas sully the true mission… How to best educate and create productive members of society that can support themselves and contribute to their communities. Kids working to contribute to thier educationis not some radical right-wing plot… It’s called work-study. We’ve been doing it for decades in colleges without outcry. Perhaps if kids contribue to their schools and education, they would take more ownership in it.

    1. James,
      I can’t believe how ignorant you are. Whether or not this was a “sound byte” that was taken out of a larger body of information, his implication that poor children do not have a work ethic is so far from the truth as to be laughable. I work at a high school in a rural area of Wisconsin, in which 67% of the students in our district qualify for free or reduced lunch. I have seen many of the middle class or rich among our students who have less of a work ethic than some of the poor students. I have seen students who are poor rise to the position of valedictorian of their class because they have a wonderful work ethic! You and Newt Gingrich are the ones who are biased, not the people who you say took this sound byte out of context!

      1. Terry,
        It’s unfortunate that your argument is prefaced by name-calling, as it diminishes any point you are trying to make. People are free to disagree on issues, but resulting to insults when someone disagrees with your own point of view is childish and a hallmark of true ignorance. This is one of the reasons that our present government (Republicans and Democrats alike) is so ineffective at accomplishing much of anything productive. I can assure that I am neither ignorant nor biased. To the contrary, I’m quite educated thanks to mine and my family’s hard work and sacrifices to make that possible. I was not born with a silver spoon in my mouth, nor was a product of a family that lived on government assistance. I worked from a young age to earn my keep, and am thankful to my family for both modeling that behavior to me and requiring me to do so in order to obtain the things that I wanted out of life.

        Nowhere did I say that ALL POOR KIDS and their families have no work ethic (nor did Mr. Gingrich), as that would be a gross generalization. I teach high school in the Philadelphia area, and we serve a diverse socio-economic population. I am well aware that there are many students that come from economicaly challenged families who have excellent work ethics and go on to become gainfully employed and very successful individuals. I applaud these students, as I know the challenges that they face and surmount. Rather than taking the easy road and complaining that they could not succeed because they didn’t have the same opportunities, they roll up their sleeves and do the hard work necessary to achieve success. However, the reality of the situation in Philadelphia (and around the country) is that there are large numbers of students that DO come from homes and whole communities where parents DO NOT work an honest day’s labor nor earn an honest day’s pay. Rather, they rely on goverment assistance programs (and sometimes illegal activities) to support both them and the children that they have made a conscious decision to bring into this world. Subsequently, these individuals model that behavior to their children which leads to generations of families that choose to live off of the labor of others rather than earn a honest living for themselves. I see it all the time with teens who have two and three children by the time that they graduate high school. They have no way of supporting the children they are bringing into the world, yet they are able to ignore to conventions that regular citizens adhere to when planning families because they have grown up as part of a culture that teaches that it’s okay to act as irresponsibly as you like and not worry about the consequences because someone else will have to deal with the repercussions. It is modeled and learned from an early age that it is acceptable and easier to let others work and provide for you rather than make responsible choices and work hard to accomplish a better life for yourself. This social irresponsibility is a result of a system flawed, one that rewards people for their poor choices and inaction. Just as with many other things that are given rather than earned, these students often see little to no value in taking advantage of the education that is being provided for them at others’ expense. They don’t bother to study and work hard so that they can achieve a better life for themselves, as they know that they can just collect a living, that someone else will take care of them.
        I am in no way suggesting that we send five year-olds into coal mines and the like as some of the sensationalists on this thread would choose to exaggerate. However, I do not think that it is a bad thing at all to have pre-teen and teen students contribute to the operation and upkeep of their schools as student assistants to secretaries, custodians, etc. Students having to contribute in such ways actually promotes kids having more pride and feeling ownership in their schools. Pride in ownership actually leads to a greater investment in the whole educational process.

        1. To compare “work study” programs to janitorial work is disingenuous. To require the poor to perform labor in return for their education is UNAMERICAN .
          If students will benefit from contributing to the upkeep of their campus, the ONLY acceptable way is voluntarily, for example, forming a Campus Beautification Club,
          like any other campus service, car wash, or book drive.

    2. Most students that attend college are 17 or over and are allowed to work. Here’s an idea for you. Why don’t we have rich kids come to the poor kids schools and show the poor kids what it mean to care about someone less fortunate than themselves. Now that would be a teachable moment!!!!

  26. Doesn’t surprise me! Any man who would shut down the government to prove his point is dangerous. And any man who would have his ailing wife (with cancer) served divorce papers while she was in the hospital is an unfeeling selfish cad! The desperation of the GOP is obvious. There’s not an honorable American man in the party!

  27. Newt Gingrich is the greatest hypocrite of American politics. He decries equal marriage rights, but has been married three times and unfaithful to the first two. He now professes that low income children have no work ethic, yet his “work ethics” with Freddie Mac, etc. are very questionable! He has lollygagged his way through life, sponging on the American people long enough. Anyone can read it in his arrogant and entitled demeanor. Maybe it’s time for him to pick up a mop and broom!

  28. Gingrich is a disgusting human being! Racist and imperialist, there is no room for him in our country let alone this world!! May he burn in h***. My 29 poor students work hard each day as do their parents in hopes of making a better life. They did not choose poverty!!!

    1. Really? They did not choose poverty? In the school district in which I work, as a teacher, comments like this: I don’t have to work I’ll go on Welfare, my parents don’t work, my parents use my name for their bills….are what I hear. Now grant it, all economically disadvantaged people are not like this, but I am truly sick of people expecting others to pay their ways. My husband and I work two jobs each; we are educated and worked our ways through college. However,if I chose not to have gone to college and if I had six kids and didn’t work…I’d be eligible for assistance …then I’d be on easy street. Now some of you will say its not easy, but stand behind someone at the local store using his magic assistance card…see what he is buying, watch him take a cash option for his carton of Marborols, see him get the card out with pride! It disgusts me… I remember when I was younger seeing people embarrassedto pull out their food stamps…not now! Wake up people!!

  29. Obviously this is a “jobs program.” Every custodial and clerical worker that schools can fire will then have children with unemployed, poor parents. That then makes the children eligible for the minimum wage, or even lower, ‘training wage’ job, by replacing their parents in the work force. Even if you might ignore the arrogance and ignorance of Newt, you can’t ignore the nonsense. But the “conservative” audiences to whom Newt was pandering enthusiastically aplauded his pronouncement. And this ass boasts that he charges $60,000 per half hour speech!

  30. He’s EXACTLY right! I might vote for him now. My students tell me all the time, “why should I get a job when I can live on welfare?”. Oh, and my favorite, “my mom makes more than you so why would I go to college when I can just get a check like her (for her 13 kids)? If he has a plan to put people to work…let’s see it!!!

    1. I have taught in low income schools for the past decade. I have never heard this comment – as in never, once – . Just yesterday I did hear a kid complaining about learning function notation and he did ask, When am I ever going to use this?” So, they will complain. By the way, look up what a welfare mom actually gets, compare that to your teacher salary, and if she is getting more, change states for crying out loud. Teacher salaries are a little over median familiy income in most states. It is not a great wage for a college degree and probably graduate work, but it is still more than welfare. I can understand the confusion though. Hint – kids sometimes say things that are not really true.

    2. U suspect you’ll here this from kids who might not be able to stand you because you demonstrate the same superiority complex and arrogance toward them as Newt does. I taught for 37 years and also never heard anything like it but, of course, I always showed them that I believed they were capable of very good work and that’s an expectation that paid far greater dividends than snobbery ever does. I don’t think you’re in the right field.

      1. Obviously with all your misspellings, I’m sure you were phenomenal at your job…oh, and you are saying the person above was practicing snobbery…what because he works, earns a living, and is proud of it? Teachers teach their students to work hard to get what you want…obviously you being out of the game for a few years made you out of the loop…things are different…and when your SSI gets taken away before the welfare system, we will see if your opinion changes!

        1. You are right about the misspelling but it happened because I was extremely angry at you for your pomposity. By the way if you use a gerund you should use a possessive in front of it such as “your being out of the game.” Teaching was never a game to me. I was Teacher of the Year for my district, Teacher for the Year for my section of the state in which I taught, a semi-finalist for teacher of the year in my state, one with a continual superior rating in education, Wal Mart Teacher of the Year, and inducted into my school’s hall of fame for exceptional educators. Let’s hear some of your credentials. And not only have you been snobbish toward kids; you’ve been the same to me because I happen to be retired. Furthermore, your last sentence is a garbled mess. Debating with someone like you is more than a little like crashing one’s head against a very small cement room with as many rocks in it as you clearly also have in your heart regarding those whom you stand in front of every day to show them how unworthy they are of you. LOL

          1. Some of my credentials…well I can go off about my credentials like you did…you called me pompus but you have clearly displayed what you are razzing on me for!!! As for saying you are out of the game…things have changed in the past five years…there is a reason why the United States is so far behind.we lack work ethic! We are creating a class of sub-illiterate, easily swayed lemmings that cannot survive without the public’s dollar…what made our country is a group of people who worked their way out of the lower class despite their hardships…check out some of Thomas Freidman’s thoughts…he is a liberal…(by the way it is not even a liberal/conservative thing)we are not contenders anymore…work ethic is gone…I have my degrees (you may simply have an equivalent)and I have worked for them…what is wrong with expecting the best from students? And remember you can be nominated for many things…that doesn’t make you grand…collect your retirement and leave the politics to people who are still in the game! Take your gerrund and well you know the rest!

    3. I suspect you’ll hear this from kids who might not be able to stand you because you demonstrate the same superiority complex and arrogance toward them as Newt does. I taught for 37 years and also never heard anything like it but, of course, I always showed them that I believed they were capable of very good work and that’s an expectation that paid far greater dividends than snobbish condescending ever does. I don’t think you’re in the right field.

  31. So they literally have no habit of showing up on Monday,” said the former House speaker at a campaign event in Iowa. “They have no habit of staying all day. They have no habit of ‘I do this and you give me cash,’ unless it’s illegal.”

    Poor Newt! Always misunderstood by the media. He was obviously referring to our current and past elected officials. I hope that this is not the best that this country has to offer but when greed gets in the way of intelligence I am not suprised that Gingrich has made it this far.

  32. Typical pandering to the far right, who feel as if they alone are shouldering the burden of our social ills. Newt has just shot himself in the foot and will limp into the primaries to a stinging defeat…..if the voters have any sense! He stands on the sidelines and takes cheap shots and says I told you so.

  33. Gingrich is a ridiculous fool and can certainly not be even considered for anything more than dogcatcher. With comments like this – and ” if you are married to someone with Alzheimers you should get a divorce ” and ” Haiti was being punished with the hurricane… ” HOW CAN YOU TAKE anything HE SAYS and really think he is thinking logically. Talk about Alzheimers . . .

  34. Babysitting and various other “childhood” small jobs do not equal what he’s talking about having children do. I can just see it now. A child is registered for school. A line on the paperwork says, “Income of parents”, as a fill-in-the-blank. If the answer is “$0” or “unemployed”, the child is automatically placed in a position to “work for his education”? RIDICULOUS!!!!!! Also, when custodians would be replaced, what happens to his/her family’s income? I am just appalled at the way things are going as it is, and now this is an answer from a Republican leader hopeful? OMG!!!

    1. Perhaps we will have to create “workhouses” a la “Oliver Twist and have them sort rags or take over separating bottles and cans…or maybe they can fill the gap for farmers who can’t get their crops in because their workers can’t get in to the country for a season.

  35. This so completely disgust me that I cannot begin to respond in a professional manner. Other than to say, that every single American that cares about kids needs to stand up and fight these evil, evil people

    1. If you cared about kids, you would not want them to be enabled…you should want them to be self-sufficient. If you look at the big picture of what he said…you must admit…we have become an enabled, lazy society…where does that come from? It is learned…and from where? The people they see the most…their parents…

      1. You do not “enable kids” by trying your best to show that you care for them and believe they can and should do their best. People aren’t so different from your pet dog, if you kick it continually in the a___ it’s much more likely to bite you in yours than do what you want or expect it to do. If you send the message to kids that they are worthless and not really deserving of your best efforts with them, that’s exactly what most of them will be. The same is true with adults. I don’t know you personally, but you don’t sound very happy about what you’re doing. That’s a very bad place to be when teaching.

      2. As a retired special educator, and alternative school teacher I worked for many years with the kids that many teachers like you did not want in their classrooms. I agree, many of them had attitudes, and a lot of baggage from bad parenting. But they never wanted anyone to know that they got free lunch, and most of them had some type of job, many more than the “popular kids” the athletes, cheerleaders, i.e. the middle class. Most of them were the product of “working poor”. With high expectations, visits to colleges, and exposure to a curriculum that worked for them, many are college graduates, business owners, and I am proud to say one is a selectman in our town, and founder of the rescue squad. So there!

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