Helping Teenage Mothers? Not Part of the New Program in Killeen

 An article in the Killeen Daily Herald out of Killeen, TX painted the picture of everything wrong in Texas Education.  In the Killeen school district there is an alternative school known as “Pathways” that has traditionally been the home of high school aged mothers due to its childcare center (run by non-profit CIS) on campus.  The program is “updating” itself in order to promote the by-choice alternative school to more students in the district.  Part of the update?  Removing the on-campus childcare, leaving an entire district that covers 400+ square miles and has over 31,000 students (which includes all youth who live on Fort Hood Military Base) without a home for single mothers.

Apparently, a new $6 million facility and re-branding are much more important to Pathways than the $34,580 a year the school district gave to the child care center, which did more than provide care for the children of the high school student-mothers attending next door.  The center taught parenting skills to the new teenage mothers, helped them find jobs and expensive products like diapers and formula (impossible to afford for unemployed 15 year olds their sophomore year of high school).  The program also supports recent graduates of KISD and their children while they attend Central Texas College.

The mothers will receive Texas Workforce Commission Vouchers for childcare, an idea the school board endorsed because they “felt private day cares could provide services more efficiently”.  Unfortunately, it is plain knowledge to everyone else that most private daycares in Killeen, like much of Texas, do not accept TWC Vouchers.  Those that do accept the vouchers have long waiting lists, and are not always accessible through public transportation, which these students will also have to spend money on in order to drop their children off, and then get to school.

One Pathways/ CIS program graduate, Angelika Lopez, had a clear assessment of the new reality for current teenager mothers enrolled.  Writer Rebecca LaFlure summarized Lopez’s comments, concluding, “finding transportation, affordable child care nearby and a place that understands their situation will be challenging”.

The final statement the article makes?

“(The center) is not encouraging teenagers to have sex and get pregnant,” Lopez said.  “It’s like, ‘If you fall into that hole, we can help you.'”

It’s an unfortunate reality that some have probably been calling for the close of CIS because it “protects” teenage mothers from the consequences of having sex they so justly deserve.  If the school district does not enforce these consequences, chiefly among them being forced to drop out of high school, they are guilty of “encouraging teenagers to have sex”.

The truth is that the facts don’t support the school board decision to close the childcare center.  Private daycares are more expensive, force students to travel farther to get to school, and don’t offer the supporting environment at the school day care.  The cost of childcare at CIS is $532 per child ANNUALLY, less than 10% of the average annual private day according to Mary Erwin-Barr, executive director of CIS for the Killeen area.  Killeen ISD Superintendent Robert Muller made it clear, helping teenage mothers is “not part of the new program” when it comes to Pathways High School.  Nor do they have anywhere else in the Killen School District to go.

Originally posted here. 

Disclaimer: This post was written by a Feministing Community user and does not necessarily reflect the views of any Feministing columnist, editor, or executive director.

Join the Conversation