Chicago Won’t Let You Graduate High School Without A Plan For The Future

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Henry Rodgers Chief National Correspondent
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Chicago city officials passed a rule in late May that will require high school students to prove they have a plan for the future before graduating.

Chicago’s Democratic Mayor Rahm Emanuel said that he wants to make changes in the failing school system by ensuring students have set plans for after high school, like a secured job, a college acceptance letter, a trade apprenticeship or military recruitment. Emanuel said that many students think their work is done after high school in an interview with The Washington Post.

“We are going to help kids have a plan, because they’re going to need it to succeed,” said Emanuel. “You cannot have kids think that 12th grade is done. I know what’s not good for kids is allowing them to go into a job market and the rest of their lives with a high school diploma when everything tells you that they need more than that.”

The first students affected by the new requirement are those in the class of 2020. Emanuel says that schools will have enough time to make sure the students are ready, even without any additions to the school budget. The new graduation requirement will have seniors take a year-long seminar to get them ready for their lives after high school.

Many opposing the updated rules say that the school district may not be able to provide the proper mentoring help for every high school student before this rule takes effect.

“It sounds good on paper, but the problem is that when you’ve cut the number of counselors in schools, when you’ve cut the kind of services that kids need, who is going to do this work?” Karen Lewis, the Chicago Teachers Union’s president, told WaPo. “If you’ve done the work to earn a diploma, then you should get a diploma. Because if you don’t, you are forcing kids into more poverty.”

Although debates continue over the matter, Emmanuel and other school officials are confident that their plan will be effective when it launches in 2020.

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