Mayor Rahm Emmanuel announced on April 5, 2017, that a change will be forthcoming within the Chicago Public School (CPS) system. He has a vision that will change the path of students who will graduate starting in 2020. Ultimately, he wants to help students to continue to have a productive life even after graduation, as he explained it, “graduation is not the end.”
According to The Washington Post, the new graduation requirements for Chicago high school students are as follows: “Students must provide written proof of college acceptance, military acceptance, trade program acceptance, acceptance into a gap year program, or a current job offer letter.”
These are the ways that Emmanuel hopes to prepare students for the world after high school by making them come up with a plan. Any student can create one in order to walk across the stage for graduation. However, the real challenge would be to put their plan into action.
Many students who have already graduated, as well as those who have not, seem to be on the same page as far as their beliefs surrounding this change. These same students are outraged by this new policy and some are in mere disbelief, but one thing remains the same in their reactions, the unfairness of this decision. Students have made very good points in stating their concerns.
Ebony Webb, a junior at Richard T. Crane Medical Prep High School expressed her concerns:
He should not retain high school diplomas because it is not his decision to determine our preparedness.
Daizha Butler came to this conclusion:
Well, what if students don’t want to do anything after high school? College is not for everyone and you can’t force anyone to get a job.
There has not been any information on how Emmanuel will ensure his plan flourishes within CPS, but he is confident and has a team of individuals who will help implement his mission.
However, Karen Lewis, president of the Chicago Teachers Union is not on board with this change. She states, “If you’ve done the work to earn a diploma then you should get a diploma, otherwise you are forcing students into more poverty.”
The Washington Post reports, “The question is whether school districts in Chicago plan to provide schools with resources to engage in meaningful planning but this requires the help of guidance counselors.” CPS has had some budget cuts and layoffs in the past, which will impair the students’ ability to create an elaborate post-high school plan.
Students need the guidance of the Chicago Public School Board, teachers, faculty, and staff to get them to a place of success after their high school graduation.
This is survival of the fittest for high school students, some will conform and others will not comply. Jane Metzenger the executive director of the Chicago affiliate of Communities In Schools contends that: “If you don’t have a high school diploma, you are doomed to all kinds of challenges in life.”
Getting everyone involved and aware of this change is important. Parents, students, and community leaders need to offer their input and suggestions on this idea.
Written by Alexandria Martin
Edited by Cathy Milne
CNN: Chicago’s new requirement for high school students: No plan, no diploma
The Washington Post: Really Rahm? The Chicago mayor’s newest far-fetched plan for high schools.
Think Progress: Chicago’s cruel plan to withhold high school diplomas
Interview: Ebony Webb
Interview: Daizha Butler
Featured Image Courtesy of US Department of Education’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License
Top Image Courtesy of Quinn Dombrowski’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License