Chicago Public Schools are the first big American city system to make post-graduation plans a requisite for high school graduation. Mayor Rahm Emanuel says that this is all part of a plan to help level the playing field for students, and give particular help to those who might not know how to move forward into the working world.
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The new mandate, which will go into effect in 2020, will require students to show that they've been accepted into a college, secured a job or an apprenticeship, have joined the military or a gap year program in order to graduate from high school. The hope is that these students will then be better prepared to tackle life after 12th grade.
The plan has been approved by the Board of Education, but there is question over whether or not the region has enough money to make this into a reality. Critics also believe that Emanuel's attempt won't do anything to deal with the fact that many of these teenagers are living in violent, poverty-stricken areas with few jobs available to them.
This is in keeping with a national trend, which shows a move to engage more in what high school students do after graduation. As the Washington Post reports, "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."
We will have to wait until 2020 to see how this works on a large, Chicago-sized scale, but it's clear that high schools are looking more to what happens to their students on a practical and professional level after graduation. And that is definitely not a bad thing.