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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Backpacks and Diaper Bags: Latina School-Age Mothers in an Alternative School Setting


Social commentators, policy makers, and members of the mass media have been instrumental in casting teen pregnancy in opposition to educational achievement. Dropping out of school is seen as one of the major negative outcomes of teen pregnancy. This ethnographic study explores the educational experiences of nine Latina school-age mothers who were enrolled at two sites of an alternative secondary program for pregnant or parenting teens located in a large, urban, northern California city. Contrary to those who claim that teen motherhood is the cause of low achievement, this study suggests that having a child inspires school-age mothers to pursue their educational goals. These goals are nurtured when young mothers are provided with an alternative school experience that supports their needs as both students and mothers.

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