Committee: Senate Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs
The Maryland Catholic Conference (“Conference”) offers this testimony in support of Senate Bill 972. The Conference represents the public policy interests of the three Roman Catholic (arch)dioceses serving Maryland: the Archdiocese of Baltimore, the Archdiocese of Washington, and the Diocese of Wilmington, which together encompass over one million Marylanders.
Senate Bill 972 would establish the Task Force on Educational Outcomes of Pregnant and Parenting Students in High School and GED Programs; working to identify best practices, resources, and implementation methods based on the needs of pregnant and parenting students.
Educational achievement affects the lifetime income of teen mothers: two-thirds of families started by teens are in a lower socioeconomic standing, and nearly one in four will depend on welfare within three years of a child’s birth. Many children will not escape this cycle of poverty. Only about two-thirds of children born to teen mothers earn a high school diploma, compared to 81 percent of their peers with older parents. (Teen Pregnancy Rates Affects Graduation Rates. National Council on State Legislatures, 2013.)
Research has demonstrated a strong link between parents’ educational level and children’s well-being: Children with more educated parents tend to have better cognitive skills and higher academic achievement than children with less educated parents (Pew Research Center 2013). Given the importance of higher education for pregnant and parenting teens, it is surprising that so little is known about what it takes to encourage, prepare, and support these adolescents.
Tracking and assessing the challenges of pregnant and parent students in high school by the creation of this task force will help Maryland and the General Assembly learn more about the needs of this population; ensuring the success of their initiatives further allowing the achievements of this population of students. It is for these reasons that the Conference asks for a favorable report of Senate Bill 972. Thank you for your consideration.