Miss. Gov. Blames Working Moms for Bad Schools

A blog about business and economics.
June 4 2013 11:35 AM

Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant Blames Working Moms for Bad Schools  

Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell (left) and Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant leave the White House after a meeting of the National Governors Association with President Barack Obama, Feb. 27, 2012, in Washington, D.C.
Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell* (left) and Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant leave the White House after a meeting of the National Governors Association with President Barack Obama, Feb. 27, 2012, in Washington, D.C.

Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Asked at a recent event to explain how American education became "so mediocre," Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant said, "I think both parents started working. The mom got in the workplace."

Working moms: Is there anything they can't be blamed for?

This is especially egregious because there's a perfectly plausible—and much more obvious—linkage between the rise of feminism and issues in K-12 policy. The issue is that back when my late grandmother was working as a teacher, there were basically no other career opportunities available to college-educated women. That gave public school systems privileged access to the labor of talented women. In the contemporary United States, 23 percent of teachers come from the top third of the college admission test distribution. If we went back to a system in which women largely couldn't be doctors or lawyers or corporate executives or senators, then that share would rise. In countries with very highly rated K-12 systems, like Finland and South Korea, all teachers come from that top third. Opening up women's labor market opportunities inadvertently had the consequence of making it harder for public school systems to recruit and retain teachers. That's the connection.

Advertisement

But to state the obvious, we're not going to improve public education by getting women out of the non-education workforce.

Correction, June 4, 2013: The photo caption on this post originally misspelled the surname of Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell.

Matthew Yglesias is the executive editor of Vox and author of The Rent Is Too Damn High.

TODAY IN SLATE

History

The Self-Made Man

The story of America’s most pliable, pernicious, irrepressible myth.

The GOP Senate Candidate in Iowa Doesn’t Want Voters to Know Just How Conservative She Really Is

Does Your Child Have “Sluggish Cognitive Tempo”? Or Is That Just a Disorder Made Up to Scare You?

The Supreme Court, Throughout Its History, Has Been a Massive Disappointment

Why Indians in America Are Mad for India’s New Prime Minister

Damned Spot

Now Stare. Don’t Stop.

The perfect political wife’s loving gaze in campaign ads.

Building a Better Workplace

You Deserve a Pre-cation

The smartest job perk you’ve never heard of.

Rehtaeh Parsons Was the Most Famous Victim in Canada. Now, Journalists Can’t Even Say Her Name.

Parents, Get Your Teenage Daughters the IUD

The XX Factor
Sept. 30 2014 12:34 PM Parents, Get Your Teenage Daughters the IUD
Moneybox
Sept. 30 2014 12:04 PM John Hodgman on Why He Wore a Blue Dress to Impersonate Ayn Rand
  News & Politics
Jurisprudence
Sept. 30 2014 2:36 PM This Court Erred The Supreme Court has almost always sided with the wealthy, the privileged, and the powerful.
  Business
Building a Better Workplace
Sept. 30 2014 1:16 PM You Deserve a Pre-cation The smartest job perk you’ve never heard of.
  Life
Education
Sept. 30 2014 1:48 PM Thrashed Florida State’s new president is underqualified and mistrusted. But here’s how he can turn it around.
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 30 2014 12:34 PM Parents, Get Your Teenage Daughters the IUD
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Sept. 30 2014 3:21 PM Meet Jordan Weissmann Five questions with Slate’s senior business and economics correspondent.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 30 2014 3:59 PM The Trailer for Taken 3 Is Here, and Guess Who’s on His Phone Again
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 30 2014 2:38 PM Scientists Use Electrical Impulses to Help Paralyzed Rats Walk Again
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 30 2014 7:30 AM What Lurks Beneath the Methane Lakes of Titan?
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 28 2014 8:30 PM NFL Players Die Young. Or Maybe They Live Long Lives. Why it’s so hard to pin down the effects of football on players’ lives.