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Letter to Congress: Support the Pregnant and Parenting Students Access to Education Act

 

Pregnant and Parenting Students Access to Education Act

Organization Letter of Support

 

May 3, 2013

 

The Honorable Tom Udall                              The Honorable Jared Polis

United States Senate                                      U.S. House of Representatives

Washington, DC 20510                                  Washington, DC 20515

 

Dear Senator Udall and Representative Polis:

 

The undersigned organizations, which share a strong interest in and commitment to  equity in education, the college or career readiness of youth, and the health and well-being of children and families, offer our wholehearted support for the Pregnant and Parenting Students Access to Education Act. Your legislation will help states and local school districts across the nation to establish and fund policies and practices that are supportive of pregnant and parenting youth, so they can stay in school and graduate ready for college or careers.  

 

Teen pregnancy and birth rates have declined by 42 percent and 49 percent respectively since the early 1990s and are now at record low levels.  There has been universal progress in all states and among all ethnic and racial groups.  However, it is still the case that nearly 3 in 10 girls in the U.S. become pregnant at least once by age 20 and the figure is even higher among Latinas (44 percent) and African Americans (48 percent).  There are geographic variations as well—in general Southern/Southwest states have higher teen pregnancy and birth rates, and in rural counties the teen birth rate is nearly one-third higher compared to the rest of the country, regardless of age or race/ethnicity.  Despite the dramatic progress, the United States has the highest rate of teen pregnancy in the developed world—750,000 teen pregnancies each year.  Pregnancy and parenting responsibilities significantly increase a student’s risk of dropping out of school: only about half (51 percent) of women who gave birth while a teen have a high school diploma compared to 89 percent of women who did not have a teen birth.  In a nationwide survey of dropout youth, 33 percent of female dropouts and almost 20 percent of male dropouts said that becoming a parent was a major factor in their decision to leave school. 

 

These alarming  statistics stem from the many barriers that pregnant and parenting teens face in enrolling, attending, and succeeding in school, such as:  discrimination by their schools in violation of Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972; the failure of states, school districts, and schools to excuse students for pregnancy- and childbirth-related absences or to assist them in maintaining academic progress; the challenge of juggling schoolwork with parenting responsibilities; and the lack of access to affordable, quality child care, transportation, and other critical services.

 

The dropout crisis experienced by this group of students has severe short- and long-term consequences for the economic success and well-being of their families and communities, as well as our nation.  Female dropouts are especially likely to be unemployed, to earn low wages if they do get jobs, and – as a result – to have to rely on public support programs. Ensuring the success of pregnant and parenting students is critical, not only for them but also for their children, who will be more likely to eventually drop out if their parents have done so. Accordingly, providing pregnant and parenting students with the supports they need to stay in school is an essential component of any serious effort to reduce family poverty and will help to ensure that more infants and toddlers have strong early childhood experiences.

 

And with the proper resources, this can be done. A few school districts are undertaking effective efforts to engage and re-engage pregnant and parenting students by implementing voluntary programs that provide academic and support services, which result in students’ academic success. Providing supports for pregnant and parenting students can go a long way toward improving high school graduation rates, especially because pregnant and parenting students often are highly motivated.  In the same nationwide survey of dropout youth referenced above, those who left school to care for a family member or because they became a parent were more likely than any other group of dropouts to say they would have worked harder if their schools had demanded more of them and provided the necessary support.

 

The Pregnant and Parenting Students Access to Education Act will authorize the Secretary of Education to establish a formula grant program to State educational agencies, with competitive subgrants from States to local educational agencies (LEAs) to promote the educational success of pregnant and parenting students. States can use these funds for policy development and training and technical assistance to LEAs.  LEAs can use their funds for policy development, training, strategic partnerships with public agencies and service providers, and direct services to pregnant and parenting students, such as academic counseling, case management, child care and transportation assistance, health and social service referrals, and parenting, life skills, and healthy relationships education. The Secretary of Education will collect and report data annually on pregnant and parenting students, including their graduation rates, and will conduct a rigorous evaluation of the programs funded by the Act.

 

Senator Udall and Representative Polis, thank you for your leadership in working to improve the educational outcomes and financial security of pregnant and parenting students – and, by extension, their children. We encourage other Members of Congress to join in this important effort. 

 

We look forward to the enactment of the provisions of the Pregnant and Parenting Students Access to Education Act, and further urge Congress to include the bill’s provisions as part of the reauthorized Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA).  It is critical that Congress take steps in the ESEA reauthorization to provide support for this particularly at-risk group of students.

 

Signed,

 

 

National Organizations

 

9to5

ACCEPT

Advocates for Youth

African American Ministers in Action

Alliance for Excellent Education

American Association of University Women (AAUW)

American Civil Liberties Union

American Federation of Teachers

American Medical Student Association

American Psychological Association

American Public Health Association

American Sexual Health Association

Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF)

Asian and Pacific Islander American Health Forum

Association of Reproductive Health Professionals

Break the Cycle

Catholics for Choice

CLASP (Center for Law and Social Policy)

Children's Advocacy Institute

Community Action Partnership

Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet

Dream Enterprises Health Education Services

Equal Rights Advocates

Faith for Change

Feminist Majority Foundation

First Focus Campaign for Children

Friends Committee on National Legislation

Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network

Global Justice Institute

Healthy Teen Network

Human Rights Project for Girls

League of United Latin American Citizens

Methodist Federation for Social Action

Metropolitan Community Churches

Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund

Ms. Foundation for Women

NAACP

NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund Inc.

National Association for Bilingual Education

National Association for Children's Behavioral Health

National Association of Counsel for Children

National Association of Secondary School Principals

National Center for Law and Economic Justice

National Conference of Puerto Rican Women, Inc

National Council of Jewish Women

National Council of La Raza

National Crittenton Foundation

National Education Association

National Indian Education Association

National Network for Youth

National Organization for Women

National Urban League

National Women's Conference Committee

National Women’s Law Center

Our Bodies Ourselves

People For the American Way

Physicians for Reproductive Health

Planned Parenthood Federation of America

Progressive National Baptist Convention, Inc.

Public Justice Center

Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice

Religious Institute

RESULTS

Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law

School Social Work Association of America

Sexuality Education and Information Council of the United States

Sisters of Charity Nazareth Central Leadership

Smart Stop Learning Center

Southeast Asia Resource Action Center

Teen Success

The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy

The United Methodist Church, General Board of Church and Society

Unitarian Universalist Association

Women of Reform Judaism

Women's Law Project

Women's Sports Foundation

World Knowledge Bank

YWCA USA

Youth Activism Project

 

State and Local Organizations

 

Arizona Collaborative for Adolescent Health

California Center for Rural Policy

California WIC Association

Coleman Advocates for Children and Youth (CA)

National Council of Jewish Women-California

TeenNow California

Brighter Beginnings (Oakland, CA)

Clinica Sierra Vista (Bakersfield, CA)

Dependency Legal Group of San Diego (CA)

Great Beginnings for Black Babies (Inglewood, CA)

Hillsides (Los Angeles, CA)

Housing Rights Committee of San Francisco (CA)

Los Angeles Community Legal Center and Educational (CA)

New Voices Are Rising Project (Oakland, CA)

Restorative Schools Vision Project (Sacramento, CA)

Rose Foundation for Communities and the Environment (Oakland, CA)

San Francisco Court Appointed Special Advocates Program (CA)

Watts/Century Latino Organization (Los Angeles, CA)

Colorado Organization for Latina Opportunity and Reproductive Rights

Colorado Youth Matter

Florence Crittenton Services of Colorado

Advocacy Denver (CO)

Bridgeport Child Advocacy Coalition (CT)

Mansfield Housing Authority (CT)

DC Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy

RESULTS DC

Florida Association for Infant Mental Health

Center for Independent Living of South Florida, Inc.

Healthy Teens Coalition of Manatee County (Manatee County, FL)

Georgia Women for a Change

Social Justice Guild of the First Existentialist Congregation of Atlanta (GA)

Hawaii Youth Services Network

Centro de Comunidad y Justicia (Boise, ID)

Illinois Caucus for Adolescent Health

Alternatives (Chicago, IL)

Arab American Family Services (Bridgeview, IL)

Civitas ChildLaw Center, Loyola University Chicago School of Law (IL)

Chicago Child Care Society (IL)

Marillac House (Chicago, IL)

Women Employed (Chicago, IL)

Child and Family Policy Center (IA)

EyesOpenIowa

Crisis Center & Women's Shelter (Ottumwa, IA)

Southwest Iowa Latino Resource Center

GWIA (God's Will In Action) (Kansas City area, KS and MO

WISDOM (Well-Instructed Students Devoted to Our Messiah) (Kansas City area, KS and MO)

KAPCHS (Kingsway Academy Private Christian High School) (Kansas City area, KS and MO)

CSH (Career Search Hotline) (Kansas City area, KS and MO)

CPIBT (Committee to Preserve Independence Bus Transit) (Kansas City area, KS and MO)

CACTF (Citizens Alternative Crime Task Force) (Kansas City area, KS and MO)

SSL (South Sea Linden) (Kansas City area, KS and MO)

PAL (Platform for Affordable Livability) (Kansas City area, KS and MO)

Kentucky Youth Advocates

Louisiana Housing Alliance

Benedictine Sisters of Baltimore (MD)

PeterCares House (Greenbelt, MD)

Massachusetts Alliance on Teen Pregnancy

Michigan’s Children

Michigan Organization on Adolescent Sexual Health

Work Services Inc (Jackson, MI)

Minnesota AIDS Project

Minnesota Indian Women's Resource Center

Litchfield Public Schools #465 Early Childhood Programs (MN)

Nollie Jenkins Family Life Center, Inc. (Lexington, MS)

Center for People in Need (Lincoln, NE)

Sisters of Mercy West Midwest Justice Team (NE)

Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada 

Education Law Center (NJ)

Statewide Parent Advocacy Network (NJ)

New Mexico Alliance for School Based Health Care

New Mexico Teen Pregnancy Coalition

New Mexico Voices for Children

Southwest Women’s Law Center (NM)

Young Women United (NM)                         

Honor Our Pueblo Existence (H.O.P.E.) (Espanola, NM)

Brooklyn Young Mothers Collective (NY)

Inwood House (New York, NY)

NMPP/Community Health Worker Program (New York, NY)

Student Advocacy (Westchester and Putnam Counties, NY)

Action for Children North Carolina

Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Campaign of North Carolina

YWCA Greensboro (NC)

Ohio Chapter of the National Organization for Women

Ohio NOW and Education and Legal Fund

Democratic Socialists of Central Ohio

Northeast Ohio Legal Services

AFT-Oklahoma

SMART (Single Mother Academic Resource Team) (OK)

Pennsylvania Council of Churches

Allegheny Valley Association of Churches (Natrona Heights, PA)

Division of Adolescent Medicine, Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC (PA)

International Institute for Restorative Practices (Bethlehem, PA)

Juvenile Law Center (Philadelphia, PA)

Maternity Care Coalition (Philadelphia, PA)

SEIU Local 668 (Harrisburg, PA)

Woonsocket Head Start Child Development Association (RI)

South Carolina Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy

Malcolm X Center for Self Determination (Greenville, SC)

Healthy and Free Tennessee

Cornucopia Network/NJ/TN Chapter, Caney Fork Headwaters Association, Cumberland Countians for Peace & Justice Network for Environmental & Economic Responsibility Of United Church of Christ (Pleasant Hill, TN)

CHOICES (Memphis, TN)

Memphis Teen Vision (TN)

Texans Care for Children

Texas Association Concerned with School-Age Parenthood

Education Equals Making Community Connections (Plantersville, TX)

North Dallas Chapter of National Organization for Women (Plano/Dallas, TX)

Voices for Vermont's Children

Virginia Organizing

Lewis County Family Resource Network (WV)