School for Pregnant Teenagers Being Set Up in New York

Jon Swaine, Telegraph (London), February 25, 2011

The New Directions high school would teach 300 boys and girls while also providing free childcare for their sons and daughters.

The charter school would receive public funding, in a similar set-up to the “free” schools being developed in Britain. It would be run by a group of pastors and teachers in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn.

According to the school’s prospectus, its teachers will aim to develop “self-confidence and worth” in young parents, while promoting “critical thinking skills that will open the door for positive life choices.”

“An all-inclusive high school for pregnant and parenting teens will eliminate barriers to completing high school education,” said the school’s founders, who are led by Jacquelyn Wideman, a charity consultant.

The school will also “eliminate stigma and judgmental attitudes associated with those that are pregnant and in school,” they said.

There are 77 pregnancies a year per 1,000 teenage girls in New York, according to the latest available figures, compared to 70 per 1,000 teenage girls around the United States.

The proposed school is, however, opposed by other groups who work with teenage parents in the area, including the Brooklyn Young Mothers’ Collective.

Aisha Dominique, a coordinator for the group, suggested it was against the spirit, if not the letter, of Brown vs Board of Education, the 1954 Supreme Court decision that outlawed segregation in schools.

“Education should be shared,” Ms Dominique told The Daily Telegraph.

“Separate is not equal, and the job of schools is to give a good quality education to all.

“New York city rules state that pregnant and parenting pupils must be allowed in schools, and in that sense we believe that they are best served in the existing public schools system.”

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