(VIDEO) Gov. Bryant: Working moms led to nation’s education woes

June 4, 2013


African American WomanGov. Phil Bryant told an audience at today’s Washington Post Live event that America’s education mediocrity began when “the mom got in the work place.”

The comment is already a top headline trending on washingtonpost.com.

The even was intended to focus on the importance of ensuring that children read well by the end of third grade.

In a phone interview with The Associated Press, Bryant said having both parents working outside the home puts pressure on families, and that affects education.

Bryant’s wife, Deborah, has worked outside the home for more than 38 years, including while their two children were growing up.

Washington Post reporter Valerie Strauss writes:

In response to a question about how America became “so mediocre” in regard to educational outcomes, he said:

“I think both parents started working. The mom got in the work place.”

Bryant immediately recognized how controversial his remark would be and said he knew he would start to get e-mails. He then expanded on his answer, saying that “both parents are so pressured” in families today. He also noted that America seemed to be losing ground internationally in regards to educational outcomes because other nations began to invest more in their own school systems and make progress.

Bryant was speaking at on a panel that also included Delaware Gov. Jack Markell (D) and New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez (R). The event was co-sponsored by The Annie E. Casey Foundation, the GLR Campaign and the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation in Arkansas.

Gov. Phil Bryant

Gov. Phil Bryant

During a conversation about what states are doing to increase reading proficiency, the moderator of the panel, award-winning Washington Post journalist Mary Jordan, asked the three governors how America got “so mediocre” in regard to reading proficiency rates and educational outcomes. Bryant answered first.

In his answer to the question, Markell said:

There is a lack of urgency on the part of the public … that we are in a new world.

Martinez said that lack of urgency was the adults’ fault. “Education became adult-driven and not child-driven,” she said, a common refrain of some school reformers who have attacked teachers and their unions for being more concerned about their own needs than the needs of the students.

Martinez said that 99.9 percent of the teachers in her state, New Mexico, are rated proficient, but added that ”obviously that can’t be true,” because only 70 percent of students graduate from high school.

She did note that New Mexico’s high school graduation rate jumped from 63 percent to 70 percent in 2012. But she did not say that the 2012 graduating class did not have to take a high-stakes exit exam as previous classes had.

What do you think of Gov. Bryant’s comments?

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About Stephen McDill

Stephen McDill joined the Mississippi Business Journal in 2008 after working in radio and television. He is a graduate of Belhaven University and has won awards for his writing and photojournalism from the Associated Press and Mississippi Press Association.

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