I have at least 3-6 every semester. Their cheeks are round and their bellies rounder. They are bursting with excitement, anticipation and fear. They are young, they are pregnant and they are single. Teen pregnancy has never completely receded into the shadows but recently has been pushed back into the forefront of social consciousness.
Our culture is at odds with itself. On one hand we see single celebrity moms like Natalie Portman in the news with nobody pointing a finger and then BYU kicks out their star basketball player as a result of getting his girlfriend pregnant. We watch Teen Mom on MTV but then pull funding for sex education in our public schools. We morally disagree with it and yet feel the need to support these girls all at the same time. Let me make something clear; it is a problem.
From an educator and as a mother and as a woman it is a travesty. It isn’t horrible because these girls are bad. No, absolutely not, these girls are beautiful people burgeoning with opportunity. It is a travesty because our society and our culture has done nothing to truly solve the problem except excel at moral outrage and moral outrage is not going to fix the problem.
In order for these girls to accept the fact that what they are doing is morally wrong means they must first pass judgment on their own mothers – who also were young single mothers, or possibly their grandmothers. You cannot expect them to do that.
We also cannot fund them into parenthood, which means paying for their tutors, their schooling, their day care, their housing is not going to force them to succeed or even necessarily help them to succeed. No, as Gerry Garibaldi pointed out in an article this week in the Dallas News, money is not going to solve the problem. Preventing them from getting pregnant is the solution. Teach abstinence? Yep. Teach birth control? Yep. Teach boys about their social responsibility and obligation? Yep. Teach about the consequences financially and emotionally of being a teen mom? Yep. We need to stop wagging fingers and start solving the problem.
These beautiful young women that come into my classroom are the lucky ones. They somehow figured out how to get out of high school and into a community college, but of those that get there many will drop out. It is difficult and nearly impossible to juggle baby, work, and school all while having the maturity of a 19 year old. A 19 year old who still hasn’t mastered the basics of time management.
The time for moral outrage is gone – the time for teaching these young people the cold, hard truth about their decisions has arrived.
Several years ago, when the Internet bubble burst and everybody was busy waving their prudish fingers at all those “crazy web people”, David and I found ourselves both unemployed. Thankfully we were childless at the time, but we still had a mortgage payment and we do like to eat. David and I quickly created a DBA (doing business as) and launched Morley Interactive. The purpose of this homespun business was to keep the lights on and keep us fed while we weathered the bad technology storm and waited for new jobs to become available. During this time we found ourselves without health insurance.
David and I were both young (I was a mere 33 and he 29). We hadn’t had any major health issues outside of the norm and felt confident in our ability to garner some basic health insurance that would help us get through this tough time. We did what most normal humans would do and that is began calling insurance companies. We were flatly denied. DENIED! Nobody would insure us. You know why? Because David was treated for bronchitis once and I was treated for indigestion – both considered pre-existing chronic conditions. Now let me take a quick poll – if you are human and have EVER in your LIFE had bronchitis or indigestion please stand up. Oh, WOW, that is like EVERYBODY! That is the day I lost faith in our health care system. If the insurance companies are wondering why they are getting painted as the only bad guys in this debate, well, they have no one to blame but themselves.
The health care debate is complicated and no single person or entity is to blame for the situation that we are in – however, it is broken. It is wrong that my ob/gyn is more worried about getting sued than she is about practicing medicine. It is awful that malpractice insurance is driving more talented doctors out of medicine and forcing them to think more about the bottom line. A mentality that is reinforced by the insurance companies who, regardless of what their ads say, are also more concerned about their bottom line than making sure people are properly treated. On the other hand, this profit-driven mentality is also the driving force behind most (if not all) the fantastic scientific and medical breakthroughs that we see on a frequent basis here in the states. Big ideas can almost always be found near big money. So how do we take away the drive for profit without also ridding ourselves of the innovative quality that makes the American system unique? How do we take out the money but still motivate people to dedicate their life to curing cancer. Yes, curing cancer is a wonderful cause, but those doctors and scientists have mortgage payments too.
It actually doesn’t bother me that doctors make a lot of money. It is a hard, difficult job that requires a great deal more time in education and training than I could ever stand for. Not to mention that your entire life you are dealing with people at their worst – grumpy, stinky, sick, smelly, etc. I would hate that. I’m even okay with pharmaceutical companies making a lot of money because of how much they reinvest in research and development of new drugs. It does bother me that insurance companies – WHO PROVIDE NOTHING – are making obscene amounts of money.
President Obama, let me give you a friendly piece of advice. Stop trying to fix ALL of the problems in one bill. You won’t ever get it passed. Stick to insurance reform. Nobody likes these people, few congressmen will be able to argue against it and still keep their constituency at home. Is it a total fix? No, but it is a start and at least then you can say you did something, because from where I’m sitting you’re gettin’ nowhere fast.
Warning: this post is about politics. Feel free to ignore it, dismiss it, or be mildly offended. Don’t, however, be totally offended because I still want us to be friends.
Although I hate declaring a political affiliation I do trend to the conservative side of the spectrum. I frequently vote a split ticket and firmly believe that both parties are essential in order for our system to properly work. However, when push comes to shove I usually end up voting Republican. GW was my state Governor and overall I thought he did a pretty good job. I voted for him to be president. After the first four years I was pleased and so I voted for him again. I was incredibly disappointed in the second four years of his presidential service. When this most recent presidential election rolled around I almost didn’t vote. I did vote. I didn’t vote for McCain and I didn’t vote for Obama. For the first time in my life I wrote in a candidate.
As a conservative I have felt abandon by my party. I’m embarrassed by most of its representatives and have found it difficult to find any thinking, reflective, and objective voices. The comments and information I hear coming from the right seem to be more reflective of panic-inducing fear-mongering designed to sensationalize any relevant discussion. The language and dialogue heard on TV and in the papers is one of hyperbole and narrow-mindedness. As a citizen I feel betrayed and as a conservative I feel embarrassed. I know there are intelligent, thoughtful conservative voices out there but finding them seems to be more difficult than winning the lottery.
Recently, I found this op-ed piece in the Dallas Morning News and all I can say is that Rod Dreher perfectly captures my disgust with regards to the conservative party. I hope Republicans figure out how much of their constituency they are losing by sticking to this all-fear all-the-time mode of operation before the next election. Otherwise I might find myself voting Democrat.