First there was the school in Memphis with 90 pregnant students, then there was the inevitable celebrity commentary on all this pregnancy (thankyouverymuch Kim Kardashian). And then there was this story on Chicago’s WBEZ radio station about Simpson Academy for Young Women. Simpson is an alternative school for pregnant middle (!!) and high schoolers who are attempting to continue educating themselves despite the absence of support and assistance. CPS is operating on the fraying end of a shoe string, unable to help the kids on the straight and narrow, much less the ones who need extra attention. This is what makes the WBEZ story about Simpson so amazing.
Principal Joi Kidd Stamps: One of the things about Simpson is we absolutely understand that young mothers have different needs, different priorities from a regular, typical high school student. So we offer the colloquiums, which are every single week [covering topics like choosing child care and nutrition].
Soo Ji Min (Director of Illinois Caucus for Health) adds, “Just because a young person becomes a parent it should not negatively impact their educational outcomes” and says of Simpson, “It emphasizes the link between education and sexual health and how they impact each other.” Wait… are you saying that sexual health is an important part of educating teenagers if we want them to become productive contributing members of society? THAT’S CRAZY TALK.
Fourteen percent of babies born in Chicago are from teen moms (WBEZ). You can’t just hand condoms to 13-year-olds and expect that they will use them if/when they need it. Having it in your purse is one thing, convincing your boyfriend (often significantly older) to use it is a different set of skills entirely. If we have any hope of reducing teen pregnancy rates, sex education can’t be about mechanics , it absolutely has to be about communication, body confidence, self-respect and healthy decision-making.
While I was reading about Simpson, I found a message board where many students thanked their Simpson teachers, or talked about their lives and children as they stand now. And then there were messages like this:
I BELIEVE THAT SIMPSON IS A GOOD SCHOOL FOR YOUNG FEMALEZ.THEY CAN STILL GET THEIR ED. WHILE THEY IN SCHOOL. THEY WONT MISS OUT ON ANY CREDIS OR ANYTHING. MOST GIRLS DROP OUT WHEN THEY GET PREGNANT,INSTEAD OF DROPPING OUT THEY CAN JUST GO TO SIMPSON. I REALLY… WANT TO GO TO SIMPAON MYSELF.BUT I THINK THAT ITS GOING TO BE TOO LATE.
Related Post: Sexual health advice from porn stars, courtesy of the AVN convention.