Gloucester Mayor Blames Bush for 17 Pregnant Teens
By Albert N. Milliron, editor, Politisite.com OP-ED
The Mayor of Gloucester held a press conferance today about the Pregnancy Pact first reported by Time Magazine. She related to news reporters that the Principle who told the Magaizine that there was a Pact for Pregnancy had his memory clouded. The Principle did not attend todays meeting to field questions as he was on vacation. The Mayor attributed the Pregnancies, up 400% over last year, to the Unfunded Mandate, No Child Left Behind, the Glamorizing of Pregnancy, and budjet cuts over the last seven years.
My Question for the mayor, if budjet cuts have caused you to end any health education in your schools, how is your city able to afford full service health care, Child Care provisions, and condoms, birth control, and pregancy tests for you students.
The other question is, If these budget cuts have been ongoing for the last 7 years, why is pregnancy up 400% over last year only in your school? Prior to that your school had pregnancy rates near the average for your state. In 2007 you had 4 pregnancies in the same population. Prior years near that number. How can one mayor blame no child left behind that was passed near the begining of George Bush's Presidential Term.
Last, why is your principle on vacation, the one man who could answer questions at todays news conferance?
Maybe the real problem is the school system sends the message, "if you get pregnant, we will help raise your child". Since the system provides, better health care for pregnant students and child care. Is that the massage you want to send students?
Since TIME first wrote last week of this "pact," as Sullivan called it, a media firestorm has hit this seaside town on Massachusetts' north shore. News outlets from as far away as Australia and Brazil have been quick to home in on the more salacious details surrounding these young mothers-to-be. But at a press conference today, Gloucester Mayor Carolyn Kirk emerged from a closed-door meeting with city, school and health officials to say that there had been no independent confirmation of any teen pregnancy pact. She also said that the principal, who was not present at the meeting, is now "foggy in his memory" of how he heard about the pact.
No Pact, Blames Bush and Glamorized Pregnancy
She said none of the school's health workers who deal with the girls on a daily basis had heard any mention of a pact. Instead, she attributed the pregnancies to a lack of funding for health education because of increased spending needed to meet federally mandated standards known as No Child Left Behind.
She also blamed the media's "glamorization of pregnancy" and "movies that depicted teen pregnancy as something to be desired."
High School "Day Care Provided"
City and school officials in this city of about 30,000 approximately 30 miles north of Boston have been struggling for months to explain and deal with the pregnancies, where on average only four girls a year at the 1,200-student high school become pregnant.
Just last month, two officials at the high school health center resigned to protest the local hospital's refusal to support a proposal to distribute contraceptives to youngsters at the school without parental consent.
"We need to do something. Period," said Greg Verga, chairman of the district's school committee, adding "we're going to discuss it as a committee with the public and some professionals to give us some recommendations and we'll see what we can do to avoid this down the road."
Kirk said budget cuts in the last six years has slashed services for students, including health education. The school district does not provide contraceptives for students.
But the heavily Roman Catholic town, which has a large Italian and Portuguese population, has long been supportive of teen mothers. The high school has a day care center for students and employees.
Condoms, Better health care, and Pregnancy Tests
A spike in teen pregnancy at Gloucester High School has renewed a fierce debate over contraceptives in public schools and put its school-based health center in the spotlight.
Gloucester High, where 17 pregnancies were diagnosed at its clinic this year, is one of 47 Massachusetts schools with a health center licensed by the state Department of Public Health. The centers, which are run by local healthcare providers, aim to expand access to medical care, particularly for students in low-income and urban areas.
"The focus is to keep kids healthy so they can stay in school," said Dr. Lauren Smith, medical director at the Department of Public Health. "They see kids for a whole lot of things. They really are doing yeoman tasks, reaching out to kids who may not seek healthcare in another setting."
The centers - which also operate at high schools in Chelsea, Lynn, Revere, and Salem - provide the same care that is available at a doctor's office or medical clinic. But they are open only to students whose parents sign an enrollment form. A parent or guardian's health insurance pays for the visits, but students who do not have coverage are still treated.
Liability, an issue raised in the Gloucester contraceptives controversy, lies with the healthcare provider, not the school district, Smith said.
Take my advice, it is much cheaper to provide health education, you are educators not pregnancy counselors or health care providers or baby sitters. Your job, teach the kids reading, writing, and math. You do a poor job at the basics, how do you expect to better doing more? Education, brought to you by the Democratic Party! Blame Bush get real! Do your Job and let Parents deal with thier children's health care, that is their job.