Elba Ester Gordillo is a powerful woman in Mexico. She is serving a lifelong term as the President of the extremely powerful teachers’ union. It’s one of the largest and most powerful unions in Latin America. It’s also charged with being wildly inefficient and corrupt. To distract attention from her unions’ failures, Gordillo had to blame the dismal public education system on someone. So guess who Gordillo chose? The same people who have been used as scapegoats for every societal problem of the past five decades. Working mothers.
Gordillo recently wrote a two-page open letter in a leading newspaper, explaining how the problems in Mexico’s schools stem from mothers working outside the home.Â ”The abandonment of the mother in the rearing of children turned schools into daycare centers, gave teachers sole responsibility for education and emptied education of any substance,” she says. Gordillo then goes on to further speculate the same old things you’re used to hearing, that the void from working mothers was filled with television and media violence all other manner of corrupting influences. Hence, working mothers equal the downfall of society.
You might be asking yourself, aren’t a lot of those working mothers the very same teachers that Gordillo represents with her union? Why yes, yes they are.
Is Gordillo herself, a woman who has obviously risen up the career ladder, a mother? Yes, yes she is.
But Gordillo must have somehow done the impossible and raised a successful daughter while maintaining her career. Gordillo’s daughter Monica Arriola was just elected to the Senate and seems to be doing pretty well for herself. Though Arriola admitted that she was mostly raised by her grandmother. Gordillo was too busy with work and didn’t see her daughter very often.
These types of arguments have been leveled against working mothers since the minute ladies started accepting jobs. They have been proven false time and time again. There are millions of children who grew up with professional, hard-working mothers who ended up doing very well for themselves.
The idea of blaming all of society’s ills on working moms is ridiculous at this point. Our society has changed in thousands of ways. We will never go back to a time when the majority of families have a dad earning the money and a mother at home tending the children. For one thing, single parent families are much more prevalentÂ than ever before. For another, even among two-parent households, most people need dual incomes to support themselves. Stay-at-home motherhood is a choice that some women make, and it’s one that I think should be supported. But it is in no way possible or even desirable for every family.
Blaming the failure of the education system on working mothers is the equivalent of blaming global warming on the invention of electricity. Even if our capability to create power did result in the things that led to global warming, electricity also brought about a lot of wonderful things. And there’s absolutely no way we’re going back.
Working mothers furthered the women’s movement. They empowered girls in a way that never happened before. They added economic prosperity and growth.Â Gordillo’s open letter is a farce and a distraction. Its accusations shouldn’t been seen as more than a desperate woman looking to hang her union’s failures around someone else’s shoulders.