On Tuesday, Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant responded to a reporter’s question about educational mediocrity by saying, “Both parents started working, and the mom is in the work place. That’s not a bad thing. I’m going to get in trouble. I can just see—I can see the emails tomorrow. But now, both parents are working. … It’s a great American story now—that women are in the work place.”
He explained further that in such a busy society, both parents work long hours, putting a strain on education.
Just as Bryant predicted, media outlets and Twitter erupted following his comment, accusing him of sexism, racism, and outright stupidity.
Bryant, whose own wife is a working mother, later clarified his comments in an interview with the AP: “Anybody that thinks I would blame working mothers for failures in education is just ridiculous.”
But that has not appeased his critics. Sen. Deborah Dawkins, D-Miss., said, “He is so out of touch with the real world. He surrounds himself with Tea Party people who want to homeschool their children."
Most reports focused on Bryant’s clumsy response to the reporter’s question and the following backlash. They ignored the governor’s point. Was there some truth to Bryant’s message? Is he as “out of touch with the real world,” as Dawkins claimed?
According to the Center for Public Education, two-thirds of teachers in 2003 believed their students would perform better if parents were involved, and 72 percent of parents believed lack of such involvement hurt students’ education. Evidence and studies confirmed the common-sense of the day, just 10 years ago—parental involvement is crucial in education.
But those sentiments seem to be changing.
Only 5 percent of responders to a 2009 Gallup poll said that more parental involvement would help improve education. Better teachers topped the list with 17 percent.
Ten years ago, common sense and solid research affirmed the important role parents play in a child’s education. Today, because of politically correct sentiments, we cannot even talk about it.