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Education

Under Rahm Emanuel, Chicago Schools Assume Responsibility for Students’ Futures

Written by Joe Scudder

The mayor does not want anyone to graduate from Chicago schools unless they have an approved plan for what they will do next.

Chicago Schools suck.

But rather than address the problems of graduates who can’t read or write or do math, Mayor Rahm Emanuel has backed Chicago schools in assuming new responsibilities for student. Specifically, they are assuming responsibility for each student’s future.

This may be nothing more, on Rahm Emanuel’s part, than a rationalization for giving more money to school bureaucrats, because everyone acknowledges that the schools don’t have enough guidance counselors to do the job.

Nevertheless, students who don’t cooperate will be punished—deprived of a diploma.

According to the Washington Post, “Chicago won’t allow high school students to graduate without a plan for the future.

To graduate from a public high school in Chicago, students will soon have to meet a new and unusual requirement: They must show that they’ve secured a job or received a letter of acceptance to college, a trade apprenticeship, a gap year program or the military.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel (D) said he wants to make clear that the nation’s third-largest school system is not just responsible for shepherding teenagers to the end of their senior year, but also for setting them on a path to a productive future.

“We are going to help kids have a plan, because they’re going to need it to succeed,” he said. “You cannot have kids think that 12th grade is done.”

Few would dispute that kids often need more than a high school diploma to thrive in today’s economy, but there is a simmering debate about the extent to which schools should be — and realistically can be — expected to ensure their graduates receive further training.

Emanuel’s plan, approved by the Board of Education in late May, has planted Chicago at the center of that debate.

Experts say Chicago Public Schools is the first big-city system to make post-graduation plans a graduation requirement. But the question is whether the cash-strapped district can provide enough mentoring and counseling to help its neediest students succeed when the rule takes effect in 2020.

The article reveals, among other things, that there is national pressure on all public high schools to take responsibility for their students’ futures and to pressure them to go to college.

Nationally, there is a move afoot to hold schools accountable for what high school students do after graduation. Out of 17 states that have laid out plans for rating school performance under a new federal law, at least four plan to incorporate the percentage of graduates who enroll in college or another postsecondary option.

That only makes sense if the purpose of high school education is to feed the college bubble. There is no reason to make such a decision. People should make decisions for themselves.

Aren’t we celebrating a holiday today dedicated to that proposition?

Read the entire Washington Post story.

The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by EagleRising.com


About the author

Joe Scudder

Joe Scudder is the "nom de plume" (or "nom de guerre") of a fifty-ish-year-old writer and stroke survivor. He lives in St Louis with his wife and still-at-home children. He has been a freelance writer and occasional political activist since the early nineties. He describes his politics as Tolkienesque.

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