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  • Writer's pictureJoanne Jacobs

Chicago mayor: No diploma without a plan

Mayor Rahm Emanuel at a Chicago school. Credit: Chicago Tribune

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel wants to add a new graduation requirement for public school students, reports the Chicago Tribune. By 2020, students would need a letter of acceptance from a two- or four-year college, the military or an apprenticeship program to collect a diploma.

“You want to make 14th grade, not high school … universal,” the mayor said.

Later, an aide added new categories: Students could produce letters showing a job offer, a spot in a job-training program or in a “gap year” program to qualify for a diploma.

Graduates wouldn’t have to follow through — just get a letter.

The requirement would be meaningless: All public high school graduates are accepted automatically by City Colleges of Chicago, the public community colleges. Would requiring a letter encourage marginal students to try community college — or just add another layer of paperwork?

Even if Chicago does boost the number going to City Colleges, graduates won’t make it to “14th grade” unless they have adequate reading, writing and math skills.

The district is cutting school days to balance its budget, points out the Chicago Reader. It’s laying off counselors who’d be needed to help students make meaningful plans for the future.

Achievement has been improving — from a low base.

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