Students in Chicago will soon need more than passing grades to graduate from high school.
Starting in 2020, seniors won’t receive a diploma until they can show they’ve secured a job, been accepted to college, enrolled in an apprentice program, enlisted in the military, or have made other plans for their future.
“We are going to help kids have a plan, because they’re going to need it to succeed,” Chicago Major Rahm Emanuel told The Washington Post. “You cannot have kids think that 12th grade is done.”
The new requirement generated a mixed reaction among students, parents, and teachers in the nation’s third-largest school system where an estimated 40 percent of students lack postsecondary plans upon graduation.
According to media reports, some praised the policy as an important step in ensuring all students leave high school prepared to succeed. Others questioned how school counselors and other educators would meet the demands of the policy.
“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 the work?” Karen Lewis, president of the Chicago Teachers Union, told The Post.
Emanuel announced the initiative in April, and the policy was approved by the city’s Board of Education in May.
Some schools are already making changes to help their students meet the new requirement. Starting this fall at Morgan Park High School seniors will take a year-long seminar on planning for life after high school.
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