PATSY R. BRUMFIELD: Governor, don’t blame just mamas

By Patsy R. Brumfield/NEMS Daily Journal

Earlier this week, Mississippi’s governor blamed America’s educational decline on two-worker families, especially mothers, who work outside the home.
At least 50 percent of us know that women who work outside the home hold down two jobs. Just because we have extra-residential employment has never negated whatever it takes to keep the home fires burning, the kids fed and the laundry done.
Sociologists will tell you the two-worker family rose to prominence after World War II when “the breadwinner” didn’t bring home enough bacon to support that family bungalow, significant appliances and everything else we Americans wanted after the war to end all wars, redux.
In 1976, I remember someone asking me shortly before my first marriage if I were going to stop working. I was 27 and had been in the newspaper business since I was 15.
Stop working, I asked. Why? Frankly, I couldn’t imagine what I would do with my time or the loss of the paycheck.
I look back on 46 years of generally continuous employment and the 32-plus years I’ve been a mother, now to an engineer and an attorney. Providing them with educational opportunities was always a priority.
Perhaps our governor regrets the 38 years his wife has worked outside their home while their two children were growing up. I respect his own personal experience, but it certainly cannot be transferred to the American experience as the cause of educational mediocrity.
It’s a bit disheartening to realize that 174 years after Mississippi became the first state in the nation to grant married women the right to hold property in their own names that some people still regard women’s primary responsibility to be in the home.
It’s also frustrating to have lived the past 30-plus years of historic legal gains for women’s rights to see that narrow-minded views are alive and well in our state’s high-placed political positions.
Wishing we were back in the Good Ole Days, if they ever existed, doesn’t advance anyone’s success. Today’s challenges should be opportunities for visionary leaders.
Parental involvement is at the heart of successful children.
Children initially mimic what they see from their elders. No one is born knowing how to be successful.
A child’s connection to education begins with the adults around them. Reading, curiosity, connections with wonderment – these come from their earliest teachers, who can be parents or other close adults, even their baby-sitters.
This educational connection need not require great financial means, only a bit of creativity and initiative.
It also requires intentionality and opportunities to expose children to our wider world. For some parents in our state, life is tough and resources scarce.
Governor, educational mediocrity does not come from parents working outside the home.
In our state, many parents can’t find work. It’s difficult to bring educational enrichment home when your priority is putting one meal on the table.
Educational achievement improves when the whole family does well.
PATSY R. BRUMFIELD writes a Thursday column. Contact her at (662) 678-1596 or patsy.brumfield@journalinc.com.