Thank goodness this isn’t in Missouri, but we have a history of following the other lemmings so let’s rightly denounce the nonsense coming from our neighbor to the east. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has proposed a new policy wherein CPSD students, having completed the academic requirements for a high school degree, will not receive a diploma if they do not submit a post-high school plan before graduation. Under this “brilliant” policy, high school seniors would have to show “an acceptance letter to a four-year university, a community college, a trade school or apprenticeship, an internship, or a branch of the armed services in order to receive their high school diploma.”

The Illinois Constitution Article X says only this about the state’s view of education. “A fundamental goal of the People of the State is the educational development of all persons to the limits of their capacities. The State shall provide for an efficient system of high quality public educational institutions and services. Education in public schools through the secondary level shall be free.” There is no quid pro quo of what the People owe to the state in exchange for this free education… until now. Now students owe the state proof that they have some place to be after graduation.

The policy is justified by this absurd bit of pablum. “The school system of K through 12 is not applicable to the world and the economy and the world that our high school students are graduating to. So we’re moving to a pre-K to college model,” said Mayor Emanuel. A system you are required to submit to by law, where you must wait your turn, submit your work by deadlines, read, write, do calculations, be respectful of others, take tests, don’t cheat, and succeed or fail through a combination of natural talents and hard work is not representative of the real world? Has he been in a school lately? What does he think they do in there? Practice drinking upside down and rating Nick at Night tv shows?

They’re moving to a pre-K to college model? Illinois has had early learning programs for more than two decades. Their early Learning Council was established in 2003, when Rahm was in Congress. Prior to that they participated in the federal Head Start program. At the other end of the spectrum Illinois, along with everyone else, adopted Common Core, which was all about making students college ready, conservatively four years ago, realistically eight years ago. The mayor needs to do a little more research before declaring that he is moving the city in a new direction to solve its education problem.

The state has been moving to send more kids to college for many years and apparently now it’s the children’s turn to demonstrate to the state that their goal has been achieved.

If you really want more kids to go to college Mr. Mayor why don’t you do something about the cost of attending Illinois Universities? Surely all of your political experience and connections could have some effect in your legislature or on the provost. Over three thousand students of just Cook County alone come to University of Missouri each year because they can’t afford to attend your state’s University in Champaign. That should be no surprise to the Mayor because he came to Mizzou two summers ago to address those students, many of whom serve on Mizzou’s student council, at a council leadership meeting. Coincidentally, just a few months later the Concerned Student 1950 group started causing problems on our campus, problems that linger to today adding, no doubt, to the 24% decline in Mizzou enrollment.

The policy also does not recognize the students who wish to immediately join the workforce. There is no option to state that you plan to get a job right out of high school, even though such a job might be necessary to earn some money to save for attending Illinois’ very expensive post secondary institutions. Of course if you don’t have a high school degree many of those jobs won’t even look at you, so into student loan debt you go, or off to fight in wars you may not agree with.

Don’t get me wrong. Having students look forward to what they are going to do in life is not in itself a bad idea. Having a plan is usually more efficient than just winging it. But a plan can also be stifling, especially one that requires absolute commitment to a single path and does not allow for the vicissitudes of life. If adopted, Chicago would be the first city to require students to demonstrate compliance with the state‘s goals for them before granting them a much needed tool for self sufficiency, a high school diploma. Let’s hope this absurdity doesn’t pass. And don’t get any ideas Missouri.

Anne Gassel

Anne has been writing on MEW since 2012 and has been a citizen lobbyist on Common Core since 2013. Some day she would like to see a national Hippocratic oath for educators “I will remember that there is an art to teaching as well as science, and that warmth, sympathy and understanding are sometimes more important than policy or what the data say. My first priority is to do no harm to the children entrusted to my temporary care.”

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