Chicago Public High Schools: No plan. No diploma.

Chicago Public High Schools:  No plan. No diploma.

Demari Hudson, Staff Writer

An approved plan by the Board of education proposes a high school graduation requirement that seniors are to 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 in order to graduate, The Washington Post reports. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s plan make Chicago the first big-city system to make post-graduation plans a requirement that will become effective in 2020.

Many of my fellow classmates have mentioned their decided or undecided plans for after high school. But many have also said how they wish our counselors were directly involved with decision making for after graduation. Senior year is an awkward placement because you are between the stages of being dependent upon parents or guardians and being independent. It can get frustrating when trying to pick colleges and majors while trying to figure out who you want to become within the next 4-6 years.

“If you’ve done the work to earn a diploma, then you should get a diploma. Because if you don’t, you are forcing kids into more poverty.”, said Karen Lewis, president of the Chicago Teachers Union and Emanuel’s longtime political opponent. The requirement will force students into the real world who are not ready to function in a societal setting, especially those that come from poverty-stricken communities.The requirement is also insensitive to those who are inadequately equipped for life, such as not having the funds or mentality to function in the real world. Some families cannot afford to send their children to college and there are many students that actually help support their families, especially in low-income communities. There are some students at my high school that are entirely invested into their job because that is all they have.

“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 this work?” Lewis told the Washington Post. The past few years CPS schools have been victim to layoffs, closings, and budget cuts. Due to this, many services have been taken away from students and there is no one to do the work. Why push students into an environment when they are not educated about education and life after high school? A simple graduation requirement cannot fix or bandage this. There are some factors that this requirement cannot appeal to. Some students come from families where college, the military or a trade apprenticeship is not encouraged. Planning for college or any education after high school, should be a collective involvement of students and their families, the high school, and the counselor. This requirement will not magically make these parties come together.

I have noticed that many of my fellow classmates have no knowledge about trade apprenticeships partly because their families have no knowledge of them and schools do not do a great job of educating students about alternative options for life after high school. On the other hand, I do see papers, flyers, or posters with information regarding trades apprenticeships, the military, or even colleges but everyone else doesn’t see them. It could be that they don’t want to see them or maybe schools do a poor job of advertising such options. With that said, I think high schools should expose its students to options other than college. A simple requirement will not cause everything to fall into place after high school, it might just make things even more difficult.