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The [Thursday] Papers

"Mayor Rahm Emanuel wants Chicago public high school students to show they have a plan for what's next before they can get a diploma," the Tribune reports.

"Emanuel's proposal would add one more big item to the graduation checklist for high school seniors: proof they've been accepted into college or the military, or a trade or a 'gap-year' program. The requirement would also be satisfied if the student has a job or a job offer."

Here was my initial response to this idea:

Now, it turns out there's a little bit more nuance to Emanuel's proposal, even though it's still a bad idea. And it seems to have been met with instantaneously bad reviews. Let's take a look at why.


After the initial news broke, I began compiling a list of scenarios that demonstrated why Emanuel's idea was ridiculous. Some of this is no longer germane, but just stick with the thought process. In no particular order:

1. No need/desire for college or the military; going into the family business.

2. Already working, gonna keep working. May just be a fast-food job, but upon graduation I become a manager, and I'd like to work my way up, maybe have my own store someday.

3. Plan to travel, take time off.

4. Raising a child while my partner supports us.

5. Starting own business.

6. Already signed a record deal.

7. Trying to make a living as an artist.

Also, I noted to myself, this could deter some kids from even trying to graduate. Let's say they don't get into any schools; now you're trying to force them into the military? Some would surely prefer to just drop out.

And, I noted to myself, Emanuel's chosen options aren't for everyone. Sometimes it takes people awhile to find themselves. But let's be honest, he's not talking about the troubled (spoiled) rich kid who has no particular plans, might be a ski bum, might try to become a professional poker player, never has to work a day in his life. This is really directed at poor people of color, maybe even out of good intentions. He'll try to make it a universal rule, but surely there will be a waiver process, which rich folk will use they way they always do.

Rahm can't get outside his own experience, where you pick the best most elite school, regardless of any other factors like neighborhood, community, non-material interests, lack of interest in credentials. Where you plan your life in a certain way - the way he did.

Those were my initial thoughts. But a few things have changed since the original reporting. For example, the proposal now includes (or maybe always did, but wasn't highlighted) working and a "gap" year as also acceptable. That assuages some of my concerns. But the fact remains that many young people - and adults - don't know what they want to do years (or even months) in advance. We're already putting pressure on kids in Chicago to apply for elementary schools, for godsakes. It's too much; it doesn't teach the right things.


Now let's return to the Tribune story to get a fuller picture of what the mayor has in mind:

"If you change expectations, it's not hard for kids to adapt," Emanuel said at a press conference.

Rahm, Rahm, Rahm. You have kids, you should know this isn't true. Kids, and adults, aren't necessarily easily adaptable. Ask the modern athlete or the print reporter or the coal mine worker!


"A top CPS official also acknowledged, however, that every Chicago public high school graduate essentially already meets the new standard because graduation guarantees admittance to the City Colleges of Chicago community college system."

Whoa! That counts? Then the whole thing is a mirage.

"Asked whether a student who doesn't get one of these letters of acceptance would be prohibited from graduating from high school Jackson said in part:

"If a student graduates from a Chicago public school, they are automatically accepted into one of our City Colleges. And if a student is at a point where they're undecided . . . we do have that option there for them.

A better idea, then, would have been to beef up the district's districts contingent of high school counselors, which I get the feeling is shrinking by the day, and give them the resources and support to help students voluntarily come up with post-graduation plans.


"The district said it would ensure all counselors obtained . . . training as part of Emanuel's latest initiative, noting that CPS and the mayor's office were working to raise roughly $1 million from donors to accelerate the process."

That sounds a bit like unsustainable wishcasting, but who knows.


But wait, there's another problem:

"Emanuel's proposal surprised education experts who had questions about the district's legal authority to impose such a sweeping new standard."

Rahm didn't run this by legal? That's okay, he got the national news hits he wanted.

"[T[he biggest issue might be whether such a requirement is legal . . . While schools often make a point of helping students apply to and enroll in colleges, requiring a plan in order to get a diploma is different . . .

"State laws and regulations aren't clear on exactly how much authority school districts have to expand graduation requirements, said Miranda Johnson, who is the associate director of the Education Law and Policy Institute at Loyola University's School of Law.

"'I think that raises questions when the requirements go beyond academic curriculum and extend into the student's post-secondary choices,' Johnson said. 'I think it also raises questions if those requirements are contingent on a third party's action that may go beyond the scope of what the student can control.'"


But this is still at the heart of why this is a bad idea - and probably also at the heart of why the mayor thinks it's a good idea:

"There are also questions about how the policy could affect at-risk students in a system where only a fraction of high school graduates enroll and graduate from four-year institutions.

"I've been doing this for 20 years and I've never heard of anything like that," said Maria Ferguson, executive director of the Washington D.C.- based Center on Education Policy [link mine, natch]. "The question I would have for Mayor Emanuel is: 'Where did this come from? What informed your thinking to lead you to believe that this was a good plan of action for CPS?'"

We'll probably never know, but I hope the FOIAs are already filed trying to find out.


You can see from these other headlines how badly the plan has been received, though I can't necessarily vouch for every argument or fact recited in every one of these:

* Chicagoist: Rahm's 'Ridiculous' New Education Mandate Sparks Backlash.

* Ebony: Why Rahm Should Rethink His H.S. Grad Plan.

* Slate: Rahm Emanuel Has A Half-Baked Plan To Micromanage Chicago Students' Post-Graduation Life Choices.

* The Reader: Rahm Should Drop His Absurd CPS Graduation Scheme And Fund Public Education.

* The Root: Chicago Public Schools Clarifies Some Of The Finer Points Of Mayor Emanuel's New Education Plan.

* Fusion: Rahm Has A Great Idea To Completely Screw Over . . .

So essentially the mayor rolled out the plan badly, without communicating all the outs a kid would have, and then admitted they all have an out because every CPS grad is automatically accepted to a city college. For a proposal about a plan, it sure wasn't planned very well.


Just FYI, here's the official City Hall press release.



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A sampling.

Actually, twice in one day.

And actually, I understand how the world works much better than these folks; they just can't fathom that somebody may have a different worldview, including a different set of goals and values, than themselves and the dominant culture. Instead, me and others like me must simply be lacking in knowledge and understanding. Which is the irony, because our knowledge and understanding far outpaces theirs. (Subcultures, like oppressed cultures, understand both worlds - theirs and that of the dominant culture, out of necessity; dominant cultures, including oppressors, only understand their world, and thus are ultimately threatened by alternative, minority, subculture ways of thinking they cannot grasp. Homi Bhabha articulated that notion best for me.)





Have a nice day!



And buy Ivanka's jewelry! (Don't like the idea of the mayor, or even aldermen, endorsing businesses; how do you think their competitors feel?)


Portillo's Drama In Twin Cities Suburbs . . .



The Beachwood Tip Line: In the haus.


Posted on April 6, 2017

MUSIC - Chief Keef Changed The Industry.
TV - Vizio's Best Product Is You.
POLITICS - UIC: Soda Taxes Work.
SPORTS - More McCaskey Malpractice.

BOOKS - All About Poop.


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