By: Krystle Crossman
Children who graduate high school go on to do a variety of things. Some go off to the college that they have planned on going to their whole lives, some go to a college that they have just chosen, and some go off to work. Others are content to take some time off to explore and get their feet wet out in the real world. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel wants to make sure that the students in his city leave their high schools with purpose and direction. He put together a plan that will stop students from receiving their high school diploma if they do not have solid future plans and proof of those plans. This initiative was approved by the Board of Education in late May. Once more of the details are ironed out a date will be finalized, but as for right now, it will go into effect in 2020. One of the biggest issues that they may face is that they will have to find funding for the additional guidance counselor resources that they will need.
Emanuel says that Chicago has one of the largest school systems in the country and he wants to make sure that they are doing everything that they can to make sure that all of those students who are put out into the world are getting every benefit possible from the education that they have gotten. The new rule would require students to have a set plan for their immediate future and have proof. Proof can be an acceptance letter to college, secured a job, secured a trade apprenticeship, enlisted in the military, or have enrolled in a gap year program. So many kids leave high school thinking that they are now adults and they can go out into the world with the knowledge they have and get high paying jobs. This, of course, is not how things work and Mayor Emanuel wants to make sure his students realize their full potential.
17-year-old student Jermiya Mitchell told the Washington Post that she wishes she had more interaction with her guidance counselor and more help with her future plans. She states that she has only seen the counselor a handful of times and that they rarely discuss life after high school. This is a common problem in public high schools throughout the country. It leaves students feeling lost.
There are many critics of this new initiative. People state that while this all looks good on paper, it is most likely not feasible due to the financial situations of many schools. Almost 1,000 teachers have been laid off recently and schools have been closed due to a lack of financial resources. Many of the students live in neighborhoods that are full of crime and violence with very few jobs to be had. Many of the students also live in low-income neighborhoods that will not have the same resources to carry this plan out as other schools will. Time will tell as to whether there will be money in the city’s budget for the additional resources that they would need.