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Texas : Features : Columns : Letters From North America :

A Pregnant Pause for Reflection

by Peary Perry
Peary Perry
ďHelp, Iíve fallen into a quandary and canít get upÖ..Ē

That about sums it up for me this week.

This morning on the way to the office I am listening to a local talk show and the issue de Ďjure concerns a school district in this country that wants to provide high school mothers with four weeks of Ďexcused absencesí when they have a baby and are still in high school.

One of our local residents called in and proudly added her two cents worth by explaining that her fifteen year old daughter had a baby back in October. The local school district then gave her six weeks worth of excused absences along with tutors who came to her home and made certain she was able to keep up with her class work assignments.

Now, it gets even better than this. After the six week period is over, then the school sends a bus by her house each morning and picks up the student and her baby, drives to another location and drops off the baby in daycare and then takes the student to the high school. At the end of the day the student is picked up by the bus, taken to the day care, picks up the baby and then is returned to her home, safe and sound.

All of this is free of course, paid in full with taxpayer dollars. Yours and mine dollars, is this something new?

I donít have kids in high school so I canít verify that this is the case, so I called a couple of teachers that are friends of ours and lo and behold, guess what? They said that it was and had been the policy for a number of years. In fact they advised me some of these kids have a couple of children already before they hit high school.

What is going on here? I realize that the schools are handing out condoms and such without parentsí permission, but how have we gotten to this level where we are basically rewarding bad behavior? I did a down and dirty check of the cost of day care in our area and it ranges from a low of $750 to a high of $1,000 per month. Where is the problem?

Are the parents not paying enough attention to their children or the children not giving any thoughts about what will happen to them when they have babies? Babies cost money, lots of money. I know, I raised and paid for four boys to be brought up and educated. It isnít cheap. These things donít just go away, someone has to feed them, care for them and hopefully educate them or they perpetuate the cycle.

On the other hand, should we deny someone an education who wants one, because they have a child? If we do, then we doom that person to a life of struggle and hardship by remaining uneducated. My mother was 18 when I was born, that means she became pregnant at 17. She had to have been in high school. Should we tell any mother that having a child will cause them to lose whatever chance they have at pulling themselves out of their situation and hope that education makes them a more responsible and productive citizen?

How do we extricate ourselves from this predicament? How can we instill values in our young folks that will keep situations such as this from happening? I know we live in a different time than when I went to high school, but do the students of today just rush pell-mell into sex and children without a moments thought about their future or chances for success?

Iím certain there are rational options for both schools of thought. But for the life of me, I canít see any possible solution that achieves both objectives without sacrificing something.

How do we convince our students not to engage in activities that might bring babies into the world and on the other hand extend a helping hand to the students who make mistakes? How do we accomplish both in a rational manner?

Itís a quandary, isnít it?
© Peary Perry
Letters From North America

January 9, 2008 column
Syndicated weekly in 80 newspapers
Comments go to pperry@austin.rr.com

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