Child labor laws exist for a reason, but Donald Trump’s pick for Secretary of Education would rather kids work in the mines instead of learning in school.
On Wednesday, Trump announced Betsy DeVos as the person he wants overseeing education in this country for the next four years. DeVos is a billionaire conservative donor who supports school vouchers and diverted public funds to religious schools, which would be a major violation of the separation of church and state since tax dollars would flow to “Christian” schools.
But DeVos is even more dangerous because of her ties to groups that want to take poor children out of the classroom and stick them straight into the workforce doing dangerous jobs like coal mining.
Acton Institute is funded by DeVos, and it advocates for the end of child labor laws.
An article on the website argues that kids should be in the mines and factories instead of classrooms because “a long day’s work and a load of sweat have plenty to teach as well.”
They are on the streets, in the factories, in the mines, with adults and with peers, learning and doing. They are being valued for what they do, which is to say being valued as people. They are earning money.
Whatever else you want to say about this, it’s an exciting life. You can talk about the dangers of coal mining or selling newspapers on the street. But let’s not pretend that danger is something that every young teen wants to avoid. If you doubt it, head over the stadium for the middle school football game in your local community, or have a look at the wrestling or gymnastic team’s antics at the gym.
Yeah, you read that right. Acton Institute, an organization backed by Trump’s new pick to run the Department of Education, literally argued that kids should be working dangerous jobs instead of learning in school to get better jobs because “it’s an exciting life.”
Of course, the kids they want to put to work are poor kids. DeVos and her Institute would never want to put a rich kid in the mines, even though those kids would definitely learn something valuable from a long day of hard work, like why CEOs shouldn’t treat their employees like shit.
Child labor laws were enacted because greedy businesses often hired children in order to exploit them. They were underpaid and often worked in unsafe conditions that led to injury, sickness, and even death. If business owners could hire children for lower wages, they would likely fire adult workers. In other words, Trump and Devos apparently want to pave the way for a cheap labor force in this country that would take jobs from adults. People like Trump and DeVos would likely profit from such a dirty scheme but the working class people who voted for Trump just got screwed again.
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