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Why Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel Should Rethink His H.S. Grad Plan

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Rahm Emanuel, Chicago

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced a plan that has Windy City residents scratching their heads and wrenching their hands — and maybe even wondering how their kids will get a high school diploma.

During an appearance on “CBS This Morning”, the controversial politician said he plans to implement a new requirement in order for students to graduate.



“You won’t be able to graduate … unless you show that letter of acceptance to any one of the four outlets we talked about: college, community college, armed services or a trade,” said Emanuel, who served as White House Chief of Staff under President Obama, during the interview.

The Chicago Tribune reports that this plan acts as part of Emanuel’s intent to get students thinking about post-high school education early on.

OR .. as this Twitter user states:

Mind you, in March 2013, Mayor Emanuel shut down 61 schools in Chicago, most of which were located in the city’s underserved communities, causing an uproar from parents, teachers and affecting thousands of students.

Emanuel’s so-called plan is frustrating citizens on a number of levels.

For one, not everyone has a desire to attend college. That doesn’t necessarily indicate that they don’t care about their future or have an idea for their life set-up post-graduation. It’s merely just not a desire for some.

Then, hello…there’s beaucoup money involved in the college educational process and let’s just be real, that kind of loot is not accessible for a lot of families. We’re dealing with situations where students are taking care of younger siblings or are parents to their own children. Where college may be the burgeoning of a new life for some, it’s a financial burden for most.

In addition, you mean to tell me that a student can work their butt off in high school, make honor roll, be a part of various extracurricular activities and be denied their diploma or official “graduate” stamp because they don’t have a piece of paper from a four-year college, community college, trade school or enlisted in the army?

That’s some straight bull.

I get the notion of wanting to motivate students to perform well and do their absolute best in school, but there are a number of outside factors that play into this scenario. In Chicago, students, as young as third graders, are up against harsh realities from gang activity to making sure they have a meal to eat. Safety and nutrition play a role in mental focus and human functionality. And teachers have to care about these students beyond just wanting to stick strictly to text book for a check. The realness of life and society needs to be addressed in the classroom in addition to textbook curriculum.

Forcing students to show “their papers” to cross a stage, has the potential to result in more harm than good.

The mayor’s office said it expects to launch this new requirement in Chicago with a rollout anticipated for 2020.

A full vision of how this new rule will be implemented isn’t clear, being that Chicago Public School students aren’t lawfully required to pursue post-high school enrollment in order to graduate.

LaToya Cross
Social Media Manager, JET

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