Statement: “I heard just today that 25 percent of San Diego Unified School District’s population are single moms. So already, you do have a pretty large number of girls who have gotten pregnant,” KPBS host Gloria Penner said on a television program April 2.
Analysis: San Diego Unified doesn’t keep very specific data on teen motherhood, but the best estimates fall far short of 25 percent.
A countywide program for pregnant and parenting teens enrolls just 170 San Diego Unified students — which equals about 0.5 percent of high schoolers, male and female. State health officials put teen pregnancy at 3.4 percent among San Diego County girls from 2006 to 2008 (ages 15-19).
A 2005 study from state officials also estimated birth rates for girls aged 15 to 19 in different regions that overlap with San Diego Unified. The rate varied from 1.7 percent in Clairemont and University City to 8.2 percent in Logan Heights and downtown.
None of these estimates is an exact measurement of all single moms, but it’s the best local estimates we could dig up. (If you have better statistics, please send them to firstname.lastname@example.org.)
When asked about the 25 percent estimate, Penner said she got it from a teacher named Julianne who called for an earlier radio show.
“At my site about 25 percent of our students are teen parents and about 30 percent of them qualify as homeless,” Julianne said. “We think that those numbers are actually higher but those are the students that we have identified.”
Julianne didn’t say where she teaches, which makes her statement impossible to verify. Even if her statement is true, however, it’s still a leap to generalize that statistic to all high schools or the entire school district.
Penner did say she heard the estimate, but she repeated it as a reliable fact to listeners. That’s why we’re stamping this one as false.
CORRECTION: The original version of this Fact Check stated that Penner made her claim on a radio program. It was on a television program; I was reading the transcript and didn’t realize it came from a televised program. It just goes to show you that we all make mistakes! I regret the error.
UPDATE: Update: There’s one more twist to this story. The caller Julianne actually said she taught in Vista Unified, not San Diego Unified, but the show transcript posted on the KPBS website says San Diego Unified, which is also what Penner wrote to us in an e-mail on why she made the statement.
— EMILY ALPERT