Chicago mayor proposes public school changes
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By Gary Lowder
The Write Team
Recently, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel proposed a plan that would require high school upperclassmen to have a post-graduation plan in place before graduating and receiving their diploma.
Emanuel has actually come under quite a bit of fire for his proposal. It requires that graduates provide an acceptance letter that proves they they have been accepted into college, the military, a trade school, a “gap-year” program, or that they have a job to go to after graduating.
Critics of the plan believe it’s harsh and that the local government probably shouldn’t have that much say in a public school. Others praise it and believe it will help Chicago’s struggling school system. Either way it’s a very interesting proposal and definitely deserves to be discussed at length by people much smarter and better informed than myself. But I figured as a fairly recent high school graduate I’d take a shot at it anyway.
First of all I think it is a great idea to ensure students are planning for a future outside of high school. My school didn’t really have anything like that. We had a counselor who you could talk to about scholarships or applying to schools. But there was no formal program that made you think about what you might want to do in the real world.
It’s not just my school either. Almost no schools in the country have a formal program addressing these important post-graduation issues. If Chicago does end up utilizing the Mayor’s proposal it will make Chicago the nation’s first large urban school district to require students to develop a plan for their lives after high school.
However the proposal still has a long way to go and as Executive director of the Center on Education Policy Maria Ferguson notes, it might not even be entirely legal. Emanuel and Chicago school officials noted that Chicago’s graduation requirements are already above the state standard and that adding more onto that shouldn’t present a problem.
Personally I don’t see this as being a problem whatsoever. It never hurts to plan for the future and if doing so is a requirement for graduating then it stands to reason that more kids are going to do it. More kids planning their future is never a bad thing and I fail to see any downside to this proposal. In fact, I hope more school districts follow Chicago’s lead in making it a requirement..