By Marty Russell
Our beloved governor (sorry, no emoticons available so just read sarcasm there) has done it again. Gov. Phil Bryant, whose guiding principle these days seems to be open mouth, insert foot, is quoted as telling a Washington Post forum Tuesday that the reason America lags behind the rest of the world in education is because “mom got into the workplace.”
What he seemed to be saying, and what I suspect the rest of the world (i.e. everyplace outside of Mississippi) will interpret that remark as, is that the world was better off when women stayed home barefoot and pregnant and baked cookies.
You’d think the guv just sprang out of the same space and time as that wooly mammoth they just unearthed in Russia that was so well preserved it was still bleeding after 10,000 years. Maybe we’d better check the governor for a club and make sure he wasn’t the one who killed it.
Such a machismo view of the world is as outdated as oil lamps and coal-burning stoves. Women have worked, either by choice or by necessity, for most of recorded history and yet somehow found time to not only have kids but to raise and educate them.
If Bryant wants to blame poor educational achievement on a parent, he should start with the deadbeat dads who abandon those women and children.
Bryant’s remark comes just days after the Pew Research Center announced the findings of a recent study that shows that in 40 percent of households with children under the age of 18, that is children in school, women are the primary breadwinners. That’s up from just 11 percent in 1960, the era the governor seems to be pining for.
Of those four in 10 households where women are the providers, only 37 percent are married while a whopping 63 percent are single moms. So is the governor saying that that 63 percent shouldn’t care for their children just because the father isn’t around for whatever reason?
If the governor wants to blame a parent for poor educational achievement, seems to me he’s picking on the wrong parent.
And if he’s blaming unwed mothers for poor academic performance why then is he governor of the state with the highest percentage of single mothers in the country? According to the Mississippi Department of Health, the percentage of unwed mothers in the state doubled from 1980 to 2010, going from 28 percent to 54.7, the highest in the country. What is he doing to change that?
So, sorry, guv, your logic doesn’t hold. Lots of mothers, including my own, worked and raised kids and sent them to school and made sure that they got an education. It’s easy to blame the parents for a child not achieving in school. That takes the onus off the education system and the government for not adequately funding public schools or holding them accountable.
In political speak, I believe that’s called passing the buck.
MARTY RUSSELL writes a Wednesday column for the Daily Journal. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.