Leaving aside any questions of the advisability of having babies outside of a committed partnership, whatever the age of the mother and father, this irritates me. For starters, being a student-parent is damned hard work. I know because I had my first baby while my husband and I were still in college and my second baby while in law school. When my first baby was born, we were living on about 14K a year, and juggling baby, bills, and books was mind-numbingly difficult, even with family help. I can assure you that the women who are mothers and students at that high school are pulling off something more admirable and challenging than the girls on the cheerleading squad.
Second of all, I see modern American attitudes toward mothers under the age of twenty as a particularly nasty but acceptable cultural prejudice. Why is a seventeen year old woman with a baby automatically seen as some kind of social disease, but a 22 year old mother is not? These are not "teen mothers," any more than African American women are "black mothers" or women who work full time are "day care mothers." They are just mothers, like all the rest of us, giving birth to and trying to raise our children as well as we can. What if we started referring to all the 45 year old women who spend 25 thousand bucks on fertility treatments, only to end up paying some young woman to actually provide a viable uterus, as "vanity mothers," or "elderly mothers," or "crone mothers." I don't think this would go over too well.
There are many ways to be a good mother and many ways to raise healthy children. By most people's standards, I was in no way fit or ready to be a mother on that day in 1991 when my baby was placed in my arms for the first time. We were too young, we were too poor, we hadn't completed our education, our marriage was brand new and pretty unstable.... But because we were surrounded by people who both offered support and believed in our abilities as parents, we were able to rise to the challenge. And I have to say that we have managed to raise a pretty amazing boy who is now almost eleven years old.
There is nothing shameful about young motherhood. It isn't a dirty secret of some kind. We should get off of the backs of young mothers in this country. Age alone does not define a woman's ability to nurture and guide her child.