Chicago’s Mayor Rahm Emanuel has shocked educators and students alike across Chicago with his proposal to withhold graduating high school students their diploma unless they have proof they are planning to continue their education after high school, or are joining the military.
Yes, you read right, Mayor Emanuel is happily advocating holding graduating senior diplomas hostage unless they can prove they have a plan, in writing, for education after High School.
What in the actual f*ck?
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Here’s your diploma, oh wait, you wanted to travel for a year, no diploma for you. Get thee to a University. If approved by the city’s board of education, Chicago will be the first to adopt such a requirement nationwide. In and of itself having a plan after graduation is not a terrible idea, in fact it’s a great idea, but shouldn’t it be the graduate’s idea and certainly not with a gun to their head?
Around 62 percent of our kids are already either accepted into college or accepted into community college, and our goal is to make sure nobody spikes the ball at 12th grade,” Emanuel said on Wednesday. ‘We want to make 14th grade universal. That’s the new goal line.’”
Yeah, about that, state law already requires Illinois community college districts to admit students deemed qualified to complete any of the schools’ programs, and “qualified” means having a high school diploma. Basically Mayor Emanuel is demanding a requirement that all high school graduates have automatically attained. Eh? What’s to stop any student in applying to city college only to wave a piece of paper under their counselor’s nose, then toss it the minute they walk out of the guidance office? The answer is, absolutely f*cking nothing. So how much of this is simply Emanuel blowing smoke, I mean even more than his usual political sorcery?
At the very least the Mayor’s idiotic proposal will mean an increase in high school counselor’s as well as deepening the burden on an already stressed community college system; a system that sees large numbers of current enrollees not meeting the basic academic requirements, thus needing to take remedial courses. I know, I have a great idea, let’s foist even more students at it, and for sh*ts n’ giggles let’s make sure it’s the ones that don’t want to attend or aren’t ready for college in the first place.
Of course, Emanuel’s graduation proposal has also seen surprise ripple through the legal side of the education community, who question the district’s authority in creating such a broad new standard. There are also questions about how such a proposal would affect at risk students in a district where the graduation rate barely peaks at 73 percent.
I’ve been doing this for 20 years and I’ve never heard of anything like that,” said Maria Ferguson, executive director of the Washington D.C.- based Center on Education Policy. “The question I would have for Mayor Emanuel is: ‘Where did this come from? What informed your thinking to lead you to believe that this was a good plan of action for CPS?’
As for Mayor Emanuel’s real end game? If he’s trying to encourage potential graduates a more concrete decision making process as they transition from K-12 to life as a young adult I will be the first to applaud him. The skeptic in me though sees his proposal for what it is, a transparent nod at the masquerade of education reform, rolled up nicely in the vellum of soft totalitarianism. I’m sure it even comes with a pretty ribbon.