Time and time again, the Lafayette Parish School Board shows an overwhelming tendency toward idiocy, but Wednesday night’s contentious discussion over Northside High School’s teen mother program tops the list of dumb discussions.
|"It may just be me, but I don't understand why we would put a program that highlights as the cool thing, that it's pretty neat to be able to bring your baby to school and then everyone fawns over them and gives them attention" — Rae Trahan|
The conversation was sparked by board member Mark Allen Babineaux, who says he takes issue with the fact that a school that teaches abstinence among its student population, as Northside does, would be the host site for a program benefiting teen mothers.
First of all, the program — which is greatly underfunded thanks to a vote by the board last year — is designed to prepare teen moms (who are working toward a high school diploma no less) for the real world, like teaching them parenting techniques and skills for successfully landing a job while also managing the stresses of parenthood.
“I understand they teach abstinence over there,” said Babineaux. “That creates a lot of dissension among students there." He went on to say it's "really alarming” for a school that teaches abstinence to also have a program for teen mothers.
Babineaux then proceeded to question Superintendent Pat Cooper on why the buildings were locked on the day he and board President Hunter Beasley paid a visit to the school, while also taking issue with the fact that renovations to the four buildings dedicated to the program had not been finished.
For the most part, they have been finished, albeit barely thanks to the board’s decision last year to scoff at Cooper’s request for $300,000 in necessary funding. The board instead gave the administration $100,000 for the program, which has allowed it to survive, but barely, according to Cooper.
Here’s where the story gets even better: Before Cooper’s arrival as superintendent, Babineaux was an avid supporter of a similar program aimed at helping teen mothers.
“When we decided to change it and improve that program, you decided not to support it,” commented Cooper during Wednesday’s meeting. “Part of the reason we’re not where we need to be is this board decided not to fund it. So we’re trying to get private funds, and it’s taking time.
“If we don’t deal with these children, then they drop out, they’ll make more babies and the cycle continues,” added Cooper. “If we could get the kind of program we have planned, drop-out rates will go down.”
Naturally, board member Rae Trahan chimed in with this golden nugget of wisdom: “It may just be me, but I don’t understand why we would put a program that highlights as the cool thing, that it’s pretty neat to be able to bring your baby to school and then everyone fawns over them and gives them attention, especially if they’re in the general population on a campus that teaches abstinence. It just seems to be a contradiction to me.”
You're kidding, right?
For starters, the mothers aren’t allowed to bring their babies to school for a show-and-tell with their fellow classmates, and while abstinence may be the school’s policy, let’s get real: Sex happens, as should sex ed.