Hey Guv, maybe it’s old men, not working women, ruining our kids’ education

June 4, 2013


Nancy Anderson, MBJ contributing columnist

Nancy Anderson, MBJ contributing columnist

My daughter will be 32 this summer, but she’s still my baby. I’m just so proud of her. Recently, she let me read a proposal she had written for academic research. I was astounded by her command of the English language and her ability to communicate an idea… especially since she had the disadvantage of a working mother most of her growing up years. Poor baby! It’s a wonder she can read at all.

All week long, I’ve listened to all-male panels discussing the latest Pew poll about working women and using it to justify their outdated, simplistic views. They make it sound like women are plotting the downfall of society.

No, bubba. All we’re trying to do is get by. Most women who work have little choice in the matter. That was certainly my case when I was faced with a terminally ill husband. And if women improve their lot and make more money than their husbands, more power to them! Most families must contend with rearing children and working to provide for them at the same time. These days, it’s all hands on deck to get the job done.

Now Gov. Bryant suggests our education problems in Mississippi are because women fled the home in droves for the workforce. Well, I guess that lets him off the hook for underfunding education and for failing to find ways to help children and families succeed. If he’s right, then all we need to do is “git” those women back in the kitchen, barefoot and pregnant, and magically, our children will regain genius status.

Poverty, undereducated parents, poor family structures, addiction, poorly funded schools, poor quality educators… these are just some of the issues that are part of the complex puzzle of why our education system in Mississippi is so bad.

» READ RELATED COLUMN: Note to Gov. Bryant — Aunt Bea and Andy can’t solve our education woes

My daughter is a stable and successful contributing member of society. That is due, in large part, because of the example I set through my own work life. To suggest that working women undermine the education of their children is simple-minded and just plain ignorant. We’ve come a long way, baby! And our baby daughters have come a long way.

Governor, I’d like to propose another reason for the poor education of our children. Old men. Specifically, old men in leadership positions who can’t adjust to a new world. If we could just get more women in office leading the charge for our children, for our families, for our country, what a wonderful world it would be.

Educated children. Stable families. Who knows? Maybe even peace on earth.

Nancy Lottridge Anderson, Ph.D., CFA, is President of New Perspectives, Inc., in Ridgeland, 601-991-3158. She is also an Assistant Professor of Finance at Mississippi College. Her e-mail address is nanderson@newper.com, and her website is www.newper.com.

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20 Responses to “Hey Guv, maybe it’s old men, not working women, ruining our kids’ education”

  1. Jenni Says:

    “Most women who work have little choice in the matter.”

    Most of us who stay home have little choice in the matter, as well. That’s sort of the real issue- not that white western men have something to say about us working (that’s no surprise) but that in this day and age our choices are still governed by such basic needs as paying the light bill.

    As to education, well, Mississippi is not an education loving state. There is too much pride in being stupid and too much fear of being viewed as elitist if you are educated. Not turning our schools into prisons would be a helpful move. But overall I have to say I have never had any respect for the schools here. People play too much and don’t demand excellence. I’m 36 and it’s been crap since I was in school, I don’t expect that to change. Bryant’s a troll, he shouldn’t be given airtime and if people really want to start fixing schools a good place to start is figuring out why there are so many nice cars down at the downtown JPS headquarters/office.

  2. Renee Moore Says:

    Thank you for this thoughtful response which echoes my own experiences as a working mother. Hopefully, the Governor will reconsider his statement and his thinking on this issue.

  3. Janne Swearengen Says:

    What a great piece…thanks for taking the time to write the truth. However, had you been a stay at home Mom, your daughter would possibly have learned to knit (always a career option), iron (not so much a career option these days), vacuum (not a reference to the inside of our governor’s head but at least an attempt at productivity), cook (look at our own MS Masterchef) and generally been exposed to the wonders of home-making (what EVER happened to Home Ec). Above all, she would have been able to spend endless hours in front of the TV where she would have learnt all there is necessary for today’s wimmen…how to avoid odors, dress well, please men and be successful. Thanks again for a great article!!

  4. Julia O'Neal Says:

    Thank goodness you said this, and that you have the visibility and a forum to do so. I heard it on the news this afternoon and I was just appalled. Of course, this is not the first time I have been appalled by this governor, but this one seemed particularly insane. Where does he get this stuff?

  5. Julia O'Neal Says:

    You gotta read this: http://networkedblogs.com/LRiPw

  6. M. Olson Says:

    Way to go Nancy! We need more strong women like you!

  7. Brett Harvey Says:

    Mississippi doesn’t “under-fund” education. We just don’t have any money. As a percentage of GSP, we rank 6th in education spending.

    But as to your larger point, you’re attacking a straw man. And deliberately, it seems. The video of Bryant’s comment is readily available on various sites. He simply did not say that women should not be in the workplace or anything remotely like that. He said that, when two parents work full time jobs, it’s harder to focus on kids’ needs. This is a point that people across the political spectrum have made, including living wage advocates.

    I’m agnostic as to how significant a factor it is compared to, say, teacher quality or curriculum. But that’s not the point. The point is that no intellectually honest viewer can interpret his comments the way you did. You might as well equate saying “Integration posed challenges to public schools” with saying “We should return to racial segregation.”

  8. Tim Says:

    Let’s all start generalizing – working moms, old man, young blacks, the Jews… Two wrongs does not make it right and both the governor and the author of this article should be ashamed.

  9. julia oneal Says:

    You are being silly, Mr Harvey. Was Bryant faulting the fathers for not staying home from work, even though their wives make less than they do?

  10. Cindy Says:

    RIGHT ON. My 31 year old daughter and 29 year old daughter are breadwinners in their families and are doing great. They, too, run into this old white man – and sometime not so old – white man problem, too. Thanks for this article.

  11. Allison Says:

    Thank you for your thoughtful article. Supporting economic and social policies that encourage more women to enter the work force is precisely what Gov. Bryant should be doing if he hopes to solve the educational and economic woes of Mississippi. The evidence is pretty clear that working mothers in low- and middle-income households who can improve the financial stability of their households have children with higher academic achievement. To be sure, the causes of a declining educational system are complex and multi-faceted, but to suggest that working women might contribute significantly to that decline shows a complete disconnect with the problem and potential solutions.

  12. Mary Says:

    You know, when men start taking responsibility and I’m not saying all men don’t, but generally, they are the first to leave a household and leave the wife/girlfriend supporting the children on their own, then maybe it wouldn’t be so far fetched, but the problem is, if a mother stays at home with the children and something happens to the father, then the woman is left with almost no skills for the work environment, has to start out working at minimum wage jobs because the work force doesn’t want to try to train the stay-at-home mom and she has to go on welfare, which, heaven forbid, is taboo even if it’s short term. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Governor had said this about women. The south is not a hotbed of equality between men and women anyway. The men prefer the women to be dumb because they fear an intelligent women.

  13. Claudia Morris Says:

    Well done, Nancy. Proud to say I know you!

  14. Dana Says:

    It’s not just the educational system that needs an overhaul. Every aspect of Mississippi’s problem is the “ole man”. We rank last in economic development, financial growth, education, medical care….shall I go on? Wealthy Mississippians are so afraid that their lives will be affective negatively when growth is introduced in certain areas. Have you noticed that most are in poverty?

  15. Scott Says:

    “If he’s right, then all we need to do is “git” those women back in the kitchen, barefoot and pregnant, and magically, our children will regain genius status.”

    Really simple minded and just plain silly. Is this the kind of crap that the women commenting here are cheering on? Really??? Is that what women consider to be thoughtful dialogue and intellectual thinking? This article isn’t smart at all. Nothing more than antagonistic drivel! There certainly is no need to be fearful of an intelligent woman here at this blog!

  16. joneal4@gmail.com Says:

    Hope you enjoy your own company, Scott.

  17. joneal4@gmail.com Says:

    Dana, just was notified of your post. Explanation that a friend of mine gives is that MS is a “plantation feudal” society.

  18. Scott Says:

    Joneal4@gmail.com go ahead and take your pointless potshots since that’s all you have. I ntoice you have nothing else to say here other than to offer a supposed insult. At least I don’t have to suffer the company of fools like you!

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