Don't have a plan after high school? Don't expect a diploma, says Rahm Emanuel. Under a new proposal from the Chicago mayor, high school students of Chicago Public Schools will need to prove they have a plan for their immediate future before they can graduate, reports the Chicago Tribune. To fulfill the graduation requirement, students of the Class of 2020 and beyond will need to show they have a job offer, or are entering university, community college, a trade program, the military, or another educational program. The goal is to prepare students for a challenging job market, Emanuel tells CBS Chicago. "A [high school] diploma alone isn't enough anymore," says CPS Chief Education Officer Janice Jackson. Emanuel notes all high school graduates in Chicago are automatically accepted at city colleges, so no student will be left without an option.
But critics say the rule could force undecided students to rush into a decision, or harm students living in poverty, per Quartz. Some say it may also require more high school counselors and additional funding for local community colleges, which are struggling financially. Others question if it's even legal for CPS to weigh in on students' choices. "I've been doing this for 20 years and I've never heard of anything like that," says an education policy expert. "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?'" Jackson, however, says the Illinois State Board of Education only requires that schools meet the state's minimum graduation requirements, and that schools can individually adopt other requirements that don't need approval from the board.