Date of Award
Master of Education (MEd)
Background. As Dean of Women in a small high school for the past three years, I have been frustrated because of the fact that there was no program for married and/or pregnant students that would educationally aid them.
Night high school courses are not, in my opinion, "equal education; " I felt the need for a definite program. The school district is both legally and morally responsible to provide educational opportunities to these students .
Justification. In 1970 an estimated 200,000 American girls under 18 gave birth. Nearly two-thirds of the girls had married by the time of delivery (Pregnant Teen-Agers, 1970). A February 1973 estimate states, "One out of every ten girls in the United States becomes a mother while still of school age, that, is, before the age of eighteen" (Howard, 1973, p. 39). This estimate also states that 60% of the girls are married by the time the baby is born.
These girls, married or not, face a three-fold crisis at once--the transition from adolescence to adulthood, the acceptance of the mother role, and the physical and emotional changes which accompany her pregnancy.
Although these problems are generally known, pregnancy is still the major known cause of school drop-outs among girls in the United States (See Figures 1 and 2 in Appendix). "Incomplete education is associated with under-employment, unemployment , and increased welfare dependency" (Howard, 1973, p. 39). "Without counseling, young mothers may fall into a pattern of bearing additional children in their teen years, some of whom may further complicate the health, social and educational problems of young families" (Pregnant Teen-Agers, 1970, p. 28).
Speaking to the National Association of Secondary School Principals, (1973) S. P. Marland, Jr., Health, Education and Welfare Assistant Secretary for Education has said, "Every girl in the United States has a right to and a need for the education that will help her prepare herself for a career, for family life, and for citizenship. To be married or pregnant is not sufficient cause to deprive her of an education and the opportunity to become a contributing member of society" (p. 4). The American Civil Liberties Union has published a pamphlet saying, " •.• the right of an education should not be abrogated because of marriage or pregnancy unless evidence proves that the student's presence in the school or classroom does, in fact, disrupt or impair the educational process" (Pregnant Teen-Agers, 1970, p. 89).
Still a 1970 study showed that scarcely one in three school districts nationwide make any educational provision for pregnant girls (Pregnant Teen-Agers, 1970).
Hurd, Willa C., "Utah and School Age Parents" (1975). All Graduate Plan B and other Reports. 741.