Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich clarified his comment calling child labor laws "stupid" Monday in an interview with The Washington Post.
He said he was not advocating revamping child labor laws or suggesting children drop out of school to become janitors. "I'm talking about working 20 hours a week and being empowered to succeed."
Gingrich, however, repeated the idea Monday in New Hampshire, saying that replacing unionized janitors with students would be "dramatically less expensive."
Federal guidelines state that minors aged 14 and 15 generally may not work more than 18 hours a week when school is in session, and no more than 3 hours per day when school is in session. Some states have stricter limits.
"It is tragic what we do in the poorest neighborhoods, entrapping children in, first of all, child laws, which are truly stupid," said the former House speaker Friday at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard. "Most of these schools ought to get rid of the unionized janitors, have one master janitor and pay local students to take care of the school. The kids would actually do work, they would have cash, they would have pride in the schools, they'd begin the process of rising."
(Video above via CNN.)
The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees launched a web campaign against Gingrich, asking visitors to sign a petition calling the idea "nuts, vicious, and wrong."
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