DURHAM, N.C. (June 28, 2012) - North Carolina provides the 4th best educational access for pregnant and parenting students according to new national rankings by the National Women’s Law Center (NWLC). Pregnancy and parenting are the single biggest reason girls drop out of high school.
A 2010 study shows that only 50% of teens who become mothers receive a high school diploma by age 22, though many start out with excellent academic records. They often cite the logistics of caring for a young child and an environment of discouragement for leaving school.
The NWLC report examined the combined impact of state education laws and Title IX, the 1972 federal education law best known for its impact on girls’ athletics. Title IX protects the education rights of pregnant and parenting students.
North Carolina was one of only two states to receive perfect marks in four of the five ranking categories. These include allowing students to complete schoolwork during medical absences for delivery and allowing students to use excused absences to take a sick child to the doctor.
The only category where North Carolina lost points examined statewide school-based parenting support systems, such as providing academic credit for parenting classes and offering school-based child care centers.
“Our laws have been tremendously successful in keeping teen parents – both boys and girls – in school,” said Kay Phillips, CEO of the Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Campaign of North Carolina (APPCNC). “The payoff has been lower teen pregnancy rates, lower dropout rates, and stronger families.”
The report offers a few recommendations to help North Carolina improve its ranking. Examples include requiring school-based child care and requiring schools to help each student develop a personal college and career readiness plan.
The report did not examine North Carolina’s Adolescent Parenting Program, a state-funded program that provides highly effective support groups through community-based organizations. More than 200 teen parents were recognized in a ceremony last week for graduating from high school in 2012 with the help of the Adolescent Parenting Program.
“It’s great to see North Carolina recognized at the national level for being so smart in its approach to keeping young people healthy and in school,” added Phillips.
The only states that performed better in the rankings were California, Florida, and Oregon.
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