Working Mothers Blamed For Low Literacy Rates

by Hallie Marks

In today’s feature of “How did these people get elected?” news, Governor Phil Bryant from Mississippi is blaming America’s troubled education system on working mothers.

Education is a hot topic in today’s political sphere, and while almost everyone can agree that our system needs to be reformed, how to do so and the causes of our failing education system are highly contested. On June 4th, The Washington Post, The Annie E. Casey Foundation, the GLR Campaign and the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation in Arkansas sponsored a panel on education focusing on the importance of children acquiring adequate reading levels by the time they finish third grade. This panel featured other elected officials who discussed reading proficiency and ways to improve America’s educational outcomes.

There are many opinions on why America’s education system is failing our youth: such as lack of resources invested into our education system compared to other countries or the failure to place importance on literacy and education from the home. However, Gov. Bryant took that last point one step further. When asked about why America’s educational outcomes became “so mediocre” he said it was due to the fact that “both parents started working. And the mom is in the work place.”

Oh right, Governor! How could we forget that all child rearing responsibilities fall to the mother? Silly us!

Although it is certainly fair to say that lack of parental involvement in a child’s education and literacy encouragement could be responsible for our low literacy rates, saying the fault is on the mother entering the work force is antiquated and sexist. If reading and education aren’t encouraged in a child’s home, there could certainly be a lack of intrinsic motivation to value education. However, these values could be taught by any adult role model, not just a mother. Additionally, many mothers who work outside the home do so to bring income into the family. If more women were out of the work force and home with their children, the household income could drop (or completely disappear). This could definitely have a negative effect on a child’s ability to perform well in school.

Though there are many aspects that factor into the “mediocre” education system and literacy rate in America, the blame for this cannot be placed on working mothers. Perhaps part of the issue is that there are no parents or role models in a child’s life that teach reading at a young age and encourage literacy, but this means that we need to dig deeper and see why that is. Perhaps they weren’t taught to value education as children. Maybe it’s time to break the cycle. 

Thanks to

Images from studentsfirst.orgsouthern and

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