Photo: A shot of the computer screen as the Washington Post forum was webcast live Tuesday.
WASHINGTON, D.C.–Gov. Phil Bryant’s camp may be looking for ways to stress the context around his comments made Tuesday morning at a forum on education that caused Twitter to light up by Tuesday afternoon.
The comments came when Bryant was asked by forum moderator, journalist Mary Jordan, what has made the world “so mediocre”.
“You want me to tell the truth? I think parents, both parents started working, and the mom is in the workplace,” he said. “That’s not a bad thing. I’m gonna get in trouble. I can just see the e-mails tomorrow. But now, both parents are working. They’re pursuing their careers. That’s a great American story now.”
Jordan then asked Bryant if it was the mother’s responsibility to educate the children.
“No no no no, but I think there was that loving nurturing opportunity that both parents have a little bit of time.”
Once Bryant’s words hit the Washington Post, which was the paper that sponsored the forum, it didn’t take long for Twitter to light up.
A Tweet from Mississippi Democrats, which may have since been deleted, called Bryant a knuckle-headed moron and encouraged voters in the municipal elections to vote Democrat.
Other Tweets suggested that Bryant blamed working mothers for a mediocre education.
The wake of those comments easily overshadowed the message of the forum, which was that some states, like Mississippi, are working to find solutions to problems that are keeping children from reading, and that the key is to have them literate by the third grade.
“We won’t socially promote a child if he can’t read at the third grade level,” said Bryant when talking about the Third Grade Gate, a part of the Education Works agenda, which was passed this year. Bryant said about 46 to 50 percent of Mississippi students in the third grade cannot read at that level. “Yet we put ’em on that assembly line and we just keep running them through and hope they’ll get better.”
He said teen pregnancy is also a problem with dropout rates.
Bryant also talked about what he says is the number one reason for dropouts in the state-dyslexia. Though he has told his story in Mississippi before, it was unclear if he shared his elementary school dyslexia with the rest of the country.
“I repeated the third grade,” he said. Bryant said his dyslexia was not discovered until the fifth grade, by a teacher who recognized the problem. He told the forum audience that a solution is to offer scholarships to teachers who recognize dyslexia.
He also touted charter schools, merit-based pay for good teachers and scholarships for students who make a 28 ACT score and who will commit to becoming teachers as solutions he believes will cut down on some of Mississippi’s literacy and drop=out troubles.
It should be noted that most of the solutions Bryant spoke of have only recently been passed and have not yet been implemented in Mississippi schools.
Bryant was joined in the forum by New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez, who said she believed major education problems started when education became “adult-driven and not children-driven”.
“It became the adults that became more important and not the children and what’s best for them,” she said.
Martinez echoed what others in the forum said, too, which is that throwing money at the roblem does not guarantee a solution.