Pregnant Students, Teen Parents State Bill Delayed; Lawmaker Says Rural Schools Won't Benefit
Lawmakers in Nebraska delayed the passing of a bill on pregnant students and teen parents. Sen. Tony Vargas proposed schools must provide policies and accommodations for these kids but Sen. Steve Erdman said rural schools won't benefit from it, should the bill become a law.
Vargas introduced Legislative Bill 427 to the Senate floor in January and deliberations followed. Erdman, however, filed amendments to the proposed bill that led to the processing delay.
Erdman said the bill's requirement from state schools must be optional as it won't work for all school districts, particularly in rural areas. He said rural schools already have provisions in place for pregnant students and teen parents in the absence of a law.
He also said his constituents voiced out the bill as irrelevant and not needed in Nebraska rural schools. Erdman instead proposed Vargas' bill should be limited to Omaha and Lincoln school districts, Omaha World Herald reported.
Nebraska lawmakers will have to deliberate on Vargas' proposal while considering Erdman's amendments. Vargas, however, questioned this because he believes pregnant students and teen parents in Nebraska rural schools should still be protected under the law. He saw no difference between urban or rural schools when it came to the bill's benefits once it's signed.
Vargas filed the bill to ensure these students can finish school despite their situation as young parents. Vargas also proposed mandating the State Department of Education to come up with a model policy, which all schools could use as a basis. The bill won't cause the state additional expenses, according to Washington Times.
Pregnant students and teen parents contribute to the high rate of high school dropouts in the United States. The U.S. Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) cites only 50 percent of teen moms receive their high school diploma by age 22 as pregnancy or young parenting set them back from pursuing their studies. Pregnant students and teen parents also likely end up in low-income jobs which make it harder to support their family's needs.