In 2000, a NYCLU letter complained that pregnant girls were often illegally forced to transfer to these schools, which offered a substandard education. In 2003, Comptroller Thompson released a report revealing that only a small fraction of teenage mothers and pregnant girls in NYC received the necessary services to help them remain in school -- including child care.
Beth Fertig of WNYC did an expose of the pregnancy schools in 2004 -- and still nothing was done to improve or eliminate them. Even now, as pointed out by the NYCLU, there is little in the DOE press release about the closing of these schools about what will be offered in their place:
"The plan to close the 'pregnancy schools' must be accompanied by an aggressive strategy to change the culture hostile to pregnant and parenting students -- and a comprehensive plan to build active support systems that will help them stay in or return to regular schools. "
The other type of alternative schools to be phased out are the "New Beginning" centers, where high school students with a history of minor behavior problems or uneven attendance were often transferred. Of course, all of these programs were a godsend to high schools that wanted to get off their rolls any students considered marginal or troublesome.
Unnoticed in any of the articles reporting their elimination was that these centers were first established with great fanfare only four years before. Here is an excerpt from a 2003 press release from the Mayor's office:
The New Beginnings Centers enable the Department of Education to remove these students from the classrooms that they disrupt so that other students may learn there. Once removed, the students are placed in classrooms under the close supervision of an instructor using a specially-designed standards-based curriculum that allows students to earn credits towards Regents exams. Students are also provided with integrated guidance and supportive services.
A 2004 New York Times article featured an interview with Chancellor Klein, bragging about this particular reform:
Mr. Klein...praised the New Beginnings centers, 16 mini-schools for disruptive (but not extremely violent) high school students. The high schools that send students to the centers say they are also pleased with the program. As a result, four more centers are being created this spring. But some New Beginnings staff members say the program, like much else about the overhauled school system, is still getting its footing. Some sites have been sent students they are unprepared to handle, like violent or special education students.
Only this administration would claim "revolutionary" credit for getting rid of a failed program that had been created under its leadership, as well as schools for pregnant girls which lasted far longer than could be justified.
Still remaining, unfortunately, are the SOS suspension centers that the DOE has placed in the basements of community or drug treatment clinics, which provide little in the way of either education and/or counseling. The continued existence of the SOS schools continues to be a major scandal waiting to be told.
(For more on the dreadful legacy of the Pregnancy schools, see the 2006 NYCLU testimony to the Citywide Council on High Schools here.)