UPDATE, June 22, 2012: Another report released this week on the Title IX rights of pregnant and parenting teens credits California with leading the way with the most supportive laws in place to help these teens graduate high school.
This report, by the National Women's Law Center, Washington DC, analyzed state policies for Title I compliance; it found that only 6 states--California, Florida, Oregon, North Carolina, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania--have laws that address attendance issues for teens who have given birth.
Teresa Watanabe reporting for the LA Times:
A state program, the California School Age Families Education, for teen parents and pregnant students launched in 2000 has helped 73% of them complete their high school education, compared with 51% of teen mothers overall. The program offers counseling, academic support, career education, meal supplements, peer support, parenting skills education and other services.
Despite such success, the California program lost 19% of its funding in 2009 and the office that monitored compliance with Title IX and collected data was eliminated amid the state’s financial crunch. Since then, funding has been included in a block grant for several school programs and participation has dropped by about 39%, according to a separate evaluation last year.
The report also notes that the federal Office for Civil Rights, the agency tasked with policing the gender equality laws, has not undertaken any compliance reviews, nor does it conduct timely investigations in its complaints procedures. Only a handful of students have actually filed complaints because few people know about it and by the time the OCR resolves the complaint, students have given birth, graduated or dropped out of school.
June 18, 2012: Title IX protect rights of pregnant and parenting teens -- right that are often overlooked, according to a report, "Title IX at 40" published June 11 by the National Coalition of Women & Girls in Education, an non-profit organization of more than 50 advocacy groups founded in 1975 to ensure fair implementation of the gender equality laws.
The report finds that parenting teens face discrimination in school because they are often "pushed toward separate education programs, face inequitable absence policies, and are denied access to extra curricular activities". For example, participation in separate education programs should be voluntary, not required; absences due to pregnancy and childbirth should be excused; and the fact that a teen mother has, obviously, had premarital sex should not exclude them from membership in the National Honor Society (as some have been).
Surprisingly, consequences of the discrimination and difficulties are not gender specific: a third of males and half of females who fail to complete high school cite parenting pressures as one factor in their decision to drop out; only half of teen mothers manage to earn their high school diploma by the age of 22.
The U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights (OCR), the agency tasked with policing Title IX violations, does not currently collect data on parenting teens and how schools serve them.
Edweek's Nirvi Shah wrote on the issue of Title IX violations this week:
"The lack of knowledge surrounding pregnant students means that in many cases the promise of the law is not being fulfilled," said Erin Prangley, the associate director for government relations of the American Association of University Women (AAUW), in Washington. [The AAUW, a member of the coalition, is one of the groups pushing for better data collection to understand how extensive the violations are].
"Ask the schools point blank: Does your school provide child care, transportation, or tutoring? Does your school track data on girls who become pregnant?" she said.
In January, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said the OCR this year would issue guidance about pregnant students' rights, a point Russlynn H. Ali, the department's assistant secretary for civil rights, repeated in an interview with Education Week.
Meanwhile, other federal policy makers are proposing measures to bolster support services for pregnant teenagers in schools. A bill introduced last August by U.S. Rep. Jared Polis, D-Colo., the Pregnant and Parenting Students Access to Education Act, would require school districts to provide academic support services for pregnant and parenting students and require the collection and reporting of data on pregnant and parenting students.
From the National Center for Education Statistics: Title IX protects against against discrimination based on sex in all education programs that receive federal funding. The types of discrimination that violate Title IX include sexual harassment, the failure to provide equal opportunity in athletics, and discrimination based on pregnancy.
Written for California's Children by Elizabeth J Carlyle.