Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Balancing the Budget on the Backs of Babies

Apparently Detroit, among multiple school closings, is shuttering one of the few schools in the nation designed solely for teen mothers.  Parents and teachers are protesting.

Adjacent to the continuation school I teach at, there’s a similar school – serving maybe 20-30 girls (mostly). They spend an hour I think a day in the nursery, then academics the rest of the time. I have a number of teen moms in my classes (I actually designed a “parenting” independent study, elective credit course with them in mind, with materials borrowed from the “mommy school”). They generally are able to attend high school because a parent or in-law can take the child.

But for many, the dads are gone and mom likely works herself. One of my students (16) is transitioning to home study because she just broke up with her “baby’s daddy” and his mom can no longer babysit all day without pay. I tried to get her to sign up for the mommy school, but despite the acknowledgement that it is hard to study while taking care of an infant home alone, she worries about leaving her son in the nursery.
Many of these girls have very unstable home lives to begin with. The student I just spoke of spent years in foster care, and lives alone with her boyfriend because of her neglectful father. These schools are barely funded as it is. They provide an invaluable source of social capital and support to young girls who already have difficult paths ahead.

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