90.9 WBUR - Boston's NPR news station
Top Stories:
PLEDGE NOW
Here and Now with Robin Young
Public radio's live
midday news program
With sponsorship from
Mathworks - Accelerating the pace of engineering and science
Accelerating the pace
of engineering and science
Thursday, December 22, 2011

Work Colleges Help Students Graduate Without Big Debt

The College of the Ozarks in Point Lookout, Mo. is one of a handful of work colleges across the country. (AP)

Newt Gingrich has been heckled on the campaign trail for saying the country should do away with child labor laws and that poor children should do school janitorial work.

But our story isn’t about that–it’s about another comment that Gingrich made, when he referred to older college students.

He mentioned the College of the Ozarks in Missouri — which has been dubbed Hard Work U. It requires all students to work on campus to defray the cost of their education. The school consistently ranks as one of the best colleges in the Midwest.

It is one of seven other federally recognized work colleges in the U.S., where students work on campus in exchange for reduced or free tuition.

Robin Taffler, executive director of the Work Colleges Consortium told Here & Now‘s Robin Young that students take on a range of jobs at work colleges.

“Students do everything from faculty research to maintenance to working in an auto shop to running a fire department and the schools evolved because they were looking for ways to educate poor students,” Taffler said.

Other Colleges Incorporate More Work

A number of non-work colleges are developing more opportunities for students to work. The University of Maine at Farmington has created more on-campus jobs because they want students to see the connections between curriculum and work.

And the University of Iowa created a pilot program where working students meet with academic supervisors so they can see the relationship between what they’re learning and their jobs.

Have you ever attended a work college? Would you like to see more across the country? Or are these colleges taking advantage of students for inexpensive labor? Tell us in our comments section or on our Facebook page.

Guests:

  • Robin Taffler, executive director of the Work Colleges Consortium
  • Natalie Crone, who’s studying political science at Berea College in Kentucky, the first interracial and coeducational college in the south
  • Eliza Mutino, who’s studying farming and food justice at Sterling College, an environmentally-focused work college in Vermont

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
  • Anonymous

    Yea Pippa Passes!

  • Kathy

    The producer may wish to go back to college. This is not what Mr. Gingrich suggested. Mr. Gingrich suggested this for young children in elementary and middle school, not college students.

  • Neha

    Isn’t that what work study is for? Also I think Newt meant children because college students are of legal age to be working. I don’t understand college kids who don’t have at least part time jobs!

  • Kelly Rush

    Listening to the piece on college kids working.  Love the student who’s on right now, but am struck by the negative attitude when it comes to “flipping burgers.”  While the student quickly turned around and stated that it was ultimately a positive experience, as someone who started “flipping burgers” while in high school, it saddens me to see the negative image of not only the job, but the person doing this job.  Even as a die-hard liberal, I wonder if people dropped the attitude regarding these jobs and took these positions we’d have less people worrying about the renewal of extension of jobless benefits.  

    My parents taught me early on that while I can dream big and be anything I want to be, I’m good enough for any job that will hire me and pay the bills.   

    • Kelly Rush

      That should be “My parents taught me early on that while I can dream big and be anything I want to be, ultimately I’m ‘good enough’ for any job that will hire me and pay the bills.”  In other words:  when you gotta pay the bills, check the attitude at the door.

      • Joanne R

        the problem is minimum wage doesn’t pay the bills

        it’s dangerous, thankless work and if you can get a full forty hours a week you get $296.00 a week before taxesThat was great when you are young, but to support yourself or a family on that wage is impossible. 

  • Cindyhut1

    Kathy is correct. It is one thing for college students to work for tuition. It is entirely different when suggesting this for fourth graders. Now, discuss how these jobs would be assigned. 

  • Nterramin

    newt did a lousy job bringing up the subject of students working in their schools,,,i believe he was condescending with his words,,, i believe that had he been serious, he would have cited these schools immediately as examples…also, i recall his words were related to high school ,which, i think, made it so wrong,, children need these years learning, not working…

  • Neha

    Kelly – I absolutely agree! I went to boarding school and NYU on my parents’ dime, but they always taught me that I will never be too good for any job I can get. My college summers were spent working over night at Target unloading trucks and Bed, Bath and Beyond full time at night and in the morning I would go to another full time job at a lab. My parents covered all my expenses tuition and otherwise while I was in school, but I still took on a part time job at the NYU library because I didn’t want to continue spending their money when I was perfectly capable of making my own. Shame on any person who feels they are better than a job that pays you! And you know what, Kelly? You are right as well about some of the people who are probably complaining they are unemployed, I actually know people who refuse to take “crappy” jobs because they are getting cut an unemployment check every month. I am also a die hard liberal, but I loathe the person who takes advantage of unemployment because they feel they are better than…flipping burgers, for example.

  • Robin

    To Kathy ,
    just wanted to jump in to say, we distinguished in the introduction between Gingrich’s comments on getting rid of “foolish” child labor, and having very young poor kids work to “learn a work ethic”, and his later reference to college students. You’re right, they are two distinct things! 

    Best
    Robin

  • Kevin

    Just another mention of the obvious reason that Gingrich gets heckled about his idea: college students are adults and therefore no changes in child labor laws are needed for their employment. Newt was talking about 13 year old kids cleaning toilets in their schools, putting employed adults out of work. Nary a serious discussion about that here. Maybe some child labor could fix that lapse at Here & Now?
    For the colleges that employ every student: how are professor, administrator and other salaries paid when students can get out with no residual debt? $20,000 a year must help, still an egregious “reduced” amount to be paid for a year of instruction and out of the affordable range of the great majority of Americans.

    • BHA in Vermont

      I had the same question. Even if the students are doing everything from janitorial and cafeteria services to shoveling coal into the furnace for heat and patching roofs, there are BIG costs in faculty and Admin (especially Admin).  WHO is paying them?

  • Jdarmy

    I graduated from Colby College in Waterville, ME and couldn’t afford the tuition BUT I had a campus job as part of my financial aid package–it was called Work-Study program.  I worked in the Alumni Relations Office and it was a great experience.

  • Deborah Martin

    While interesting, this story was misleading and fraudulent in its casual promotion of the Gingrich plan forcing school children into labor. These collages have work programs for adult students with defined benefits for their labor. The adult students consent to the terms and are not forced to attend these colleges. Contrarily, the Gingrich gambit focused on undermining worker wages, entitling wealthier children, dismantling unions, discrediting the poor, and eradicating labor laws needed to protect children form forced labor camps at school. Clearly Hear and Now used very poor judgement in promoting any tie in with the Gingrich gambit. There is no equivalency between these adult programs and the mean-spirited Gingrich proposal.

    Editors at Hear and Now could have done a much better job by focusing on the very substantial differences rather than blithely imply that there is some hidden merit to the Gingrich gambit that needed our understanding and acceptance. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1063865545 Jeff Powell

    As a the former Head Selectperson at Marlboro College [Marlboro, VT] which not only is staffed and run as a community, I can say with pride how the anagram LABORMOR helped shape who I am today. All community members [faculty, staff, students and families] are members of the College’s Town meeting – and the college is run by the Town Meeting! All members are also de facto members of the campus fire crew. And everyone works…

  • Phil-SanDiego

    I’m a graduate of Berea College (’68) and was able to get a very affordable and solid liberal arts education there. I enjoyed hearing this piece and its emphasis on the ‘dignity of labor’ aspect of this type of college experience. I worked all four years in the Audio Visual Department, and learned everything from running projectors to designing and running a state-of-the-art (for that time!) language lab, to learning general office procedures. All of this equipped me very nicely for my first career (teaching). As for the religious aspect of the college, while it has a conservative (but not fundamentalist) protestant bent, there was never any proselytizing or guilt trips around religion. 

  • Guest

    One not mentioned is Deep Springs, a competitive two-year program in the California desert where the young men both study tuition-free and run the ranch.  They matriculate from there to the best universities in the United States to finish their degrees.

  • E Woman

    What?! OK. Newt Gingrich suggested poor students K-12, underage students, should  take over adult  jobs in the school. Why are you trying to compare oranges and apples? Of course, if its possible for college students to do work-study to pay tuition they should do it. What does that have to do with child labor. College students are adults!

  • Ckirshner

    Deborah Martin (see below) is right on. Gingrich’s notion of putting disadvantaged elementary school children to work cleaning their schools to learn a work ethic has no overlap with the merits of these college work programs.  Shame on you, Here and Now producers, for conflating them.

  • Brian

    Sorry…I think you a terrific talk show host but you totally blew this one. Many kids work in all kinds of colleges  in all kinds of jobs. You make our young citizens sound lazy and arrogant. I second Kevin’s comment.

  • David B.

    You mentioned the work-study colleges, but you did not mention Blackburn College in Carlinville, Illinois.  My wife and I both attended Blackburn and benefited from the work-study program greatly.

  • Ccannon

    Although the discussion is on work colleges, I would like to point out that the top boarding schools in the country also require that their students do on campus jobs. While at one of these schools, I scrubbed bathrooms, poured coffee and loaded and unloaded the large Hobart dishwashers. Upper classmen were in charge of managing underclassmen and scholarship kids worked side-by-side with legacy kids from Greenwich. It was an enlightening experience that equalized the population and has informed my respect for hard work at all socio-economic levels.

  • http://www.facebook.com/tjfenix Tom Fenix

    I heard this while driving to NLR and smiled remembering my dad telling me he was a graduate of the College of the Ozarks (he was actually the first one through their aviation program) and I recall him telling me stories about driving dump trucks before going to class then later getting to fly the Dean to appointments around the state.

  • Nightjarstudio

    I attended Berea College, and want to say it was a magnificent experience.  I came from rural West Virginia, I come from a family where most worked historically as farmers or coal miners.  My father is my only relative  with a college degree.  He was a elementary school teacher, and worked full-time while going to college full-time to achieve his goal.   I was a good student in High School, but I don’t know if I could have afforded to go to college if an institution like Berea wasn’t an option.  I was  accepted at several other institutions, even receiving a small scholarship, but was very discouraged by the tuition and costs of these other Universities.  I decided to go to Berea I paid 57 dollars out of pocket for my first year of school and owed the college approximately 1500 dollars upon graduation.  I would have graduated completely debt free, but I took out a small loan so I could have a study abroad experience.  I too was assigned to work as a janitor originally, but they were recruiting students to work in the college crafts department.  I applied as a incoming freshman and was given work in the pottery.  (Students could change their labor assignment after the first year if they wanted too. )  Working in the Berea College pottery changed my life in every way.  I eventually became an Art Major, after graduation I went on to graduate school and have an MFA in Ceramics.  I loved receiving a liberal arts education at Berea, I was happy that I was required to take classes across different disciplines.  I felt it gave me a broader understanding of the world around me,  it also gave the the opportunity to really explore my options and choose my educational path.  Working at Berea made it all possible,  it allowed me to go to school, and not be crippled by debt.  It also helped me appreciate the whole experience, I didn’t take it for granted because I was working for it in every way. I was able to acquire my dream of a college education.  I didn’t know any students that were embarrassed or ashamed by their work assignments, and I would say that most students realized what a golden opportunity Berea afforded them and worked hard to succeed.  Having taken classes at Universities since then for personal enrichment it is apparent that most institutions are really just big businesses, and are very concerned making money off their business.  It still blows my mind what an average person pays for a degree from an average educational institution.  A degree that in the end,  may not guarantee success for the individual after graduation.  I think the work college model would benefit anyone who is willing to accept that kind of arrangement.   I wish there were more work colleges because I believe many would be eager to attend one,  the opportunities they present far outweigh any humiliation one might feel if they end up “flipping burgers” to work their way through school debt free.   Their is no shame in hard work of any kind. 

  • http://legacy.lclark.edu/~tami/ Tami

    I enjoyed hearing about the work-colleges and listening to
    the enthusiasm of the students interviewed. However, I was deeply disturbed by
    the incredibly ageist and classist attitude of the host. First of all, college
    students are not ‘kids.’ (At least she thanked the two ‘young women’ at the end
    of the program, refraining from calling them ‘girls.’) Second of all, just
    because the host has a lazy nephew who attends a pricey private college and
    doesn’t pick up his own dirty clothes or take out his own trash doesn’t mean
    that all young adults disdain work. I am a college professor, currently
    teaching at a private liberal arts college after several years of teaching at
    public universities serving middle- and working-class students. At the public
    universities, most of my students juggled a very busy work schedule doing all
    manner of things, from the ‘flipping burgers’ and serving coffee the host would
    sneer at, to the more white-collar endeavors of which she would approve. Many
    did this work and carried full course loads while also caring for young
    children and other family members. The idea that college students should not
    deign to work and instead ‘spend time with friends’ is not just outmoded, it’s
    no longer an option for many students in today’s atmosphere of rising tuition
    (my state is raising rates about 10% yearly to make up for state budget cuts)
    and economies in crisis.

    The work colleges described by this Here & Now segment
    are a welcome intervention into the reality of a college-student-body that is
    working anyway. As the students noted, the practical skills they gain through
    the work experience are an essential complement to the classroom-based
    education they are receiving and which is widely recognized as a small fraction
    of the overall college education we hope they experience. In my own classes, I
    use community-based learning to provide students, on a much smaller scale, the
    kinds of reflective real-world educational experiences these work colleges embrace
    on a campus-wide level. My students report that these experiences are
    eye-opening and among the most powerful learning opportunities they encounter. I
    hope that these admirable programs continue to receive publicity, but I would also
    hope this publicity would be devoid of a classist attitude that maligns some sorts
    of work as less noble than others.

    • Beverly

      I have to respond to this.  I’m offended by your assumptions about the host’s nephew.  I have the pleasure of knowing him and the last thing he is is lazy.  He’s worked hard to get where he is today.  He went to public school and doesn’t attend a pricey private college.  His immediate family doesn’t have the financial resources you seem to think they have.  If you’ve got a problem with the story, stick to you problem.  Don’t attack a really good kid (and I use that as a term of endearment).

    • Beverly

      I have to respond to this.  I’m offended by your assumptions about the host’s nephew.  I have the pleasure of knowing him and the last thing he is is lazy.  He’s worked hard to get where he is today.  He went to public school and doesn’t attend a pricey private college.  His immediate family doesn’t have the financial resources you seem to think they have.  If you’ve got a problem with the story, stick to what you know is true.  Don’t attack a really good kid (and I use that as a term of endearment).

  • jan

    It would be better if you could work off a larger amount of the debt.  Working  is always a great idea, but don’t think  you’ll save a lot of money.  As parent of WWC student I know the actual savings is not too much.

  • Amasa

    I think over all this program was good. Though the connection with Newt was shaky at best, I think it had a strong message in the end. It’s about teaching good work ethic, not just making kids work their tuition off. These work programs are just as much a learning experience as any classes a student will take, and can show them how to take pride in their work, no matter what it is, just because they know the community depends on them to do it.  And while I greatly disagree with the idea of having young children working for their schools I do feel like having a work program set up within high schools may not be a bad idea. There are a lot of young adults who leave high school, not intending on going to college, who don’t have any real experience, or realistic notion of what it means to work. Work ethic is something learned, and maybe these kids should be taught that in more ways then just academically. Real world application is always a question students ask about with their high school math or social studies, and I think kids want to learn what it really means to live and work in the real world. So teach them work ethic and pride in what  they do because with both of those attributes a person can go far, even without the best academic history.

  • Robert Feldacker

    I have to second, or third, or fourth, the commenters who point out the misrepresentation of the view expressed by Newt Gingrich when speaking about working students. Hardly any person could think that it is at all controversial to have college students work to pay for tuition either within their institution or outside. Indeed, it is the very rare student who can afford not to. If Newt and the staff of Here and Now beleive otherwise, perhaps some research on the conditions of modern college students is in order. Gingrich’s more extreme points dealt with the supposed limits that our “stupid” child labor laws put on K-12 students replacing adults within the public school systems within their communities. He was indeed trying to accomplish all the terrible goals ascribed to him by Deborah Martin in her response. Please read your online synopsis as well as your transcrip. If your intention was to distinguish between two parts of Gingrich’s thinking then you have done your listeners and yourselves a disservice. His thoughts on either of these matters are not worht the time it took to report on them.

  • Walimack

     I just  had to check the comments today.The Gingrich comments go largely unchallenged.His references were to poor people who somehow never see anyone make an honest dollar.Thinly veiled references to Black and Latino children pass in the as yet mostly white media. Prep school students feel as though they have experienced the real world on their way to resuming their actual privleged positions.

  • Anonymous

    Interesting story – I think all students ought to spend some time working while they’re at school – but Mr. Gingrich specifically targeted his prescription at poor children, because he clearly believes that poverty predisposes one to a poor work ethic.   The laziest kids I’ve ever known have been the offspring of wealthy parents who provide for their children’s every wish.  These children grow up with a sense of entitlement and genuinely believe that they should be rewarded upon graduation with high-income jobs, because gosh darn it they deserve only the best.

  • Swampyankee_4

    I did it back in the 80′s  but  I wasn’t a 12 year old child.
    Kudos to Ms. Martin for clearly stating the fallacy of this approach to education

  • Class of 2012

    The student at Sterling College is still paying $20,000/year for tuition! While this may be cheap in today’s ridiculous standards for the cost of higher education, in a world where our economic recovery seems to teeter on whether people will or will not lose $20-40/month from their paychecks, how could that number be said so non-challantly?!??? There is a bigger problem afoot.

  • Robin

    okay I think I have to jump in here again! 

    We OBVIOUSLY did a VERY poor job setting up this piece!!

    The jumping off point was that Newt Gingrich mentioned the College of the Ozarks, 
    and we wanted to take a look at the work college.

    We mentioned in passing his other comments about poor CHILDREN ( as opposed to college age students) being janitors and “learning a work ethic”! We were trying to distinguish them from each other,  we didn’t, we conflated them. I see that even in the synopsis above.

    SO.  We in no way were exploring this as a way of validating his comments about children, as some of you thought! Farthest thing from our mind. 

    And there is one comment here about my nephew, yeesh, again, my fault. Just to be clear he is a scholarship student in Northeastern’s 5 year coop program which means he is working his butt off both in the classroom and in the on campus jobs his coop requires. It’s just that his room is a mess.

    Sorry for these distractions.

    Robin  
     

    • Brian

      Thanks Robin.  Appreciate the apology. The concept of work colleges where tuition is meaningfully lowered is certainly appealing. It is too bad some of that got lost in the “distractions”

  • Maryka Lier

    I was very excited to hear this story about work colleges (all connections to Newt’s inflammatory statements aside). I am a graduate of Warren Wilson College in Asheville, NC and my undergraduate experience there was invaluable. The work program was a part of a triad approach to education that included academics, work and community service. Working on campus built an amazing sense of community and efficacy among the student body, faculty and staff. I began working in the Service-Learning Office, organizing service opportunities with community organizations, and then moved on to the Forestry Crew, helping to maintain the campus’ 650-acres of forested land. In between classes, I was felling trees, working with horses to pull logs out to the woods, and milling lumber to be used in campus building projects. It was an amazing, empowering experience and it complimented my degree in Environmental Studies and Conservation Biology nicely. I would recommend this school to anyone who is looking for a unique academic home and who wants a liberal arts education that will foster passionate, hard-working, engaged citizens. I wish more schools were like this!

  • Anonymous

    It seems to me that instead of limiting your admission of a poorly presented story to the 30 or so people on this comment line, it would be useful to admit on the air that you gave the wrong impression of Gingrich’s proposal. To remove needed protections from younger children would be to open the door back to abusing those among us most vulnerable to being misused by people in authority and power. Haven’t we seen enough of that without going back to a time of child labor in sweatshops?  Adult college students working their way through school is different from his proposal to force the children of poverty into janitorial positions.  His grandchildren, able to shop at Tiffany’s and go on cruises, certainly would not be expected to get their work experience that way.

  • Newsatty

    I attended Blackburn College (IL), another of the work plan schools.  My parents could not afford the cost of a private university and the reduced tuition allowed me to attend  a small private college.  Classes were small and professors cared deeply about your education. I was a line cook and  got up at 5 am most mornings to make breakfast for 600 people.  Blackburn allowed me to take an accelerated load and graduate in 3 years.  My last year I was the Manager of the Work Program. (Blackburn’s program is run by the students who make the work assignments and administer discipline.  I had to recommend the expulsion of a student who refused to complete his work assignment.)
    The experience is not for everyone, but I graduated from college with a maturity at 20 that takes many college students awhile to obtain.

    • BU76grad

      I also attended Blackburn College in Carlinville, IL and gradated with honors in Biology ’76.  I was the first person in my family to ever attend, let alone graduate college.  Yeah I was accepted at a few other schools like UMass but BU was recommended to me by my high school biology teacher based on another students success at BU in biology.  BU was more affordable.  I was tempted not only to second Newsatty’s comments on BU but also Nightjarstudio’s initial comments on Berea because they sounded a lot like BU
       to me!My first job was dormitory janitor and you can imagine saturday and sunday mornings in the bathrooms and showers.  Then the head librarian heard me rehearsing a role for my theatre class and hired me next semester.  So I did 3 yearsin the library which helped with my studies too because I helped lots of studentswith research assignments.  I also worked in the town during summers.  The liberal arts education including sciences, math, philosophy, religion, etc and the work program helped develop a broad world view.  The professors and administrative staff and Blackburn were outstanding and I enjoyed campus life andlife in the local community.  My big brother (assigned student to guide freshmen) is now on the supreme court of Alaska.  At least one of my peers is an MD others have law degrees, PhDs and Master’s and so on.   I currently run a formal quality assurance program for one of the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Laboratories the does pure research in physics.  This from a college with about 600 total students most years.

      • BU73grad

        Blackburn College afforded me the opportunity to explore so many fields due to the small class size and quality of educators while reinforcing the work ethic.  I remember one professor commenting that it was more understandable to keep a student with bad academics than bad work performance, it is harder to teach a work ethic than most academics.  BU was an outstanding experience and I, like so many others, were good students from poor families.  I was the first in my immediate family to graduate from high school and then go onto undergrad as well as go to grad, thanks to Blackburn and the basis they provided for my future.  I started working in the kitchen with occassional detours to dishwashing, but soon worked in the Photography department learning an avocation I still practice.  I graduated with a degree in Economics and later received a Masters of Science in Real Estate and currently run a financial consulting company in China.  Work schools like Blackburn provide an incredible chance for those with intelligence, drive and determination, but lack financial resources or a desire to amass crippling debt.  We need more schools that encourage a strong work ethic and provide these kind of cost effective educational experiences.

  • David

    It is unfortunate that this piece, as Robin indicates, seems to conflate the concept of work colleges with the Gingrich stated need to teach a work ethic to the poor.  This was an unartful way to set up a story.

    I am also a graduate of Blackburn College and chose to go there because of the opportunity to work on campus to reduce the cost of room and board thus making a small private college affordable.  All students worked on campus;  we did everything except teach.  Some students actually helped construct new buildings.  As a college senior, I managed the janitorial departmet and was part of a committee that managed all work in support of campus operations. 

    Those of us who attended this type of an institution, arrived on campus with work ethic firmly established and used it to realize educational goals that might otherwise have been out of reach.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1259978062 Cheryl Tracy

    I am a former student and former faculty wife (1967-69) of Blackburn College, Carlinville Illinois. Blackburn offers a reachable dream to students wanting to further their education that would not be possible without the school work program.  I also have had the opportunity, as a resident of the Missouri Ozarks, to have community association with the College of the Ozarks, and have several friends who received their degrees there.  Those of us with knowledge of the school work opportunity option, knew exactly where Newt Gingrich was going with his remarks, that students (even younger students) taking  more responsible roles in the public education system would help save education costs and add to the participant students education while at the same time teach work ethic through personal responsibility of contributing to community. Work ethic is a learned trait and not a given talent.
     
    Throughout our American history students in both rural and suburban areas have worked within their community school as volunteers. Until sometime in the 1960′s students did  participate with work in public schools, and they were not paid, did not expect to be paid, and were proud to participate. They did not consider it to be child labor, nor did their parents. Students came early before classes to built fires in the school furnaces.  Students swept and mopped floors; cleaned blackboards, bulletin boards and  windows; helped teachers “xerox copy” class work sheets and tests, assisted with grading papers, tutored other students, did yard work, worked in school cafeterias during lunch periods, assisted school librarians, assisted in counselors offices and the administrative offices, made repairs on equipment and buildings, and older students even drove buses.  It was NOT considered “child labor”, but was looked upon as honorable contribution to community and was an honor to be chosen as being responsible enough to carry out these duties.

    At this very moment, Unions through federal regulation, are fighting family farms, the right for their own children to participate in traditional farm chores, with the union bosses calling it violation of child labor laws. There have been few instances in this country where the children of farm families have ever been exploited in their participation of doing chores on their family’s farms.

    I grew up in family businesses, working beside my family in the grocery, restaurant, and theater industries. I began as a five year old doing chores of dusting and straightening merchandise on shelving, and graduated to washing windows, CLEANING TOILETS,  on to cashiering and all functions required to run a successful business, as my age progressed. I testify that it is not child labor but a rewarding discipline and learning experience to participate in the success of  a family venture.  Starting with one shabby, struggling little grocery store, the family business grew to three beautiful large stores, a popular restaurant and two thriving movie theaters. I was never paid a dime for my labor and never expected to be, and was happy contributing to the success of my family. My education never suffered. I carried a constant A – B grade average. I was considered a privileged child of WEALTH, and I was, because I contributed to my own welfare and quality of life!  We had a beautiful house to go home to at the end of a long day of work.  My parents gave me a new convertible when I turned sixteen. I had beautiful clothing, the privilege of  private piano, vocal, and drama lessons, and attending a private esteemed Midwestern womens’ college.

    I challenge all entitlement minded critics to come now and convince me and others that I was a poor abused child, used and abused by evil parents in an abusive child labor plot to make money off a child’s back! The arguments of undermining worker wages, entitling wealthier children, dismantling unions, discrediting the poor, and eradicating labor laws that protect children from forced labor camps by a 13 year cleaning a toilet and putting employed adults out of work are uninformed and examples of the entitlement whine of the lazy gimme, gimmes that continue to echo America’s demise in the political rhetoric of labor union propaganda to transfer earned of workers into the pockets of union bosses. And the put down of school work programs is an attempt to keep the masses uneducated and avail for union jobs. Degreed persons rarely pay into labor unions to assure employment.  As far as putting adults out of work, the argument fewer tax dollars required to run our schools, put money back into the private sector and offer better jobs to those now toilet scrubbers is valid. Our young student citizens are taught to be lazy and arrogant because of the entitlement mindset of lazy and arrogant attitude passed to them by their parents in all segments of society, both poor and privileged.  Our kids are fat, out of shape physically, out of shape mentally, and out of touch socially,  tied to television sets, video games, and the computer. They are not awarded for industry in their school work nor taught by unstated failures in our present mind set to not recognize excellence and work well done, for fear it will hurt little Susie’s feelings.  They are not only missing out on life and youth, but how to compete and succeed in real society. No wonder your 30 year old is still living at home.

  • Jturne02

    I wanted to comment on Professor’s Wick Sloane
    idea. I agree with him. I am a 27 year old student attending a private
    school. My schools tuition cost is $32,000 (considered the lowest in five years) and room an board costs
    $9,800 and there is a 3 % increase for the next school year. I have not
    been irresponsible with my money. I recently got out of the military and
    I am using the Yellow Ribbon and the GI Bill to cover most of the costs
    for school. I receive $27,500 in aid from both. Even with that amount
    of aid, I still have a huge gap  that I need cover. I had to move off
    campus after my first year. I can’t afford to live on campus and pay
    9,800 for basically 9 months of study. I wanted to get a better
    education so I chose a private school. Yes, it is my choice to go to a
    private school and I am very lucky in comparison to other students who
    are not veterans. But I disagree that students are irresponsible with
    their money. As you can see for yourself it is even hard for someone
    such as myself to try to cover all the costs without some additional
    loans and aid. And I still have to plan to pay for Grad school. Most of
    us are doing what we can with what we have in order to get the best
    education possible. I believe that people genuinely want to learn. And I
    wonder how many potentially bright students, brighter than myself, miss
    out on a good education because of the high costs of education. 
     

Robin and Jeremy

Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson host Here & Now, a live two-hour production of NPR and WBUR Boston.

April 22 Comment

What Do We Have To Teach Plato?

Philosopher Rebecca Newberger Goldstein discusses her new book "Plato at the Googleplex: Why Philosophy Won't Go Away."

April 22 21 Comments

Children’s Literature: Apartheid Or Just A General Lack of Color?

African-American children's book authors Walter Dean Myers and his son Christopher Myers weigh in.

April 21 Comment

Remembering Rubin ‘Hurricane’ Carter

We remember the boxing champion, who was twice wrongly convicted of murder, with his longtime friend and defender.

April 21 2 Comments

‘Wait Wait’ Host Peter Sagal Runs Boston Marathon As Guide

For the second year in a row, the host of NPR's "Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me" is running with a legally blind athlete.