NYC
02/24/2011 01:42 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

Charter High School For Teenage Parents Proposed

Is it better to treat teenagers with children the same as every other student, or should they have their own special school?

That question lies at the heart of the debate over a proposed high school specifically for teen parents.

If it receives its charter, the New Directions Charter high school in Bed-Stuy would have an enrollment of 300 boys and girls, with free on-site day care for their little ones. The school would open in 2012.

"A lot of times when they go back to the regular school setting, there's a lot of stigmatization," said nonprofit consultant Jacquelyn Wideman. "The goal is for them to perform at the same optimum level as regular high schools."

Close to 7,700 girls between 15 and 19 gave birth in the city in 2009. Most of those babies were born in Brooklyn and the Bronx.

The New York Post points out that the city closed its last four high schools for teenage moms in 2007 because of poor attendance levels and "low levels of credit accumulation among students."

The paper also said the teenage-parents-only high school model has largely disappeared in the rest of the country.

Benita Miller, executive director of Brooklyn Young Mothers Collective, is skeptical of the need for the school.

"I don't think that we should be creating schools that segregate young women or men based on their parenting status," Miller said. "We don't need them to graduate as good mothers -- we need them to graduate as educated young women who can head to college."