Chicago to make post-graduation plans a requirement for high schoolers
July 5, 2017 6:26 PM   Subscribe

“Students will soon have to show that they've secured a job or received a letter of acceptance to college, a trade apprenticeship, a gap year program or the military in order to graduate”
  • Rahm Emanuel, mayor of Chicago: “We are going to help kids have a plan, because they're going to need it to succeed. You cannot have kids think that 12th grade is done.”
  • Karen Lewis, president of the Chicago Teachers Union: “It sounds good on paper, but the problem is that when you've cut the number of counselors in schools, when you've cut the kind of services that kids need, who is going to do this work? If you've done the work to earn a diploma, then you should get a diploma. Because if you don't, you are forcing kids into more poverty.”

My take: this is all a scheme to get (poor, black) kids to join the military. Courtesy of the American Friends Service Committee: Ten Points to Consider Before You Sign a Military Enlistment Agreement.
posted by koavf (89 comments total) 26 users marked this as a favorite
 
Found on /.
posted by koavf at 6:28 PM on July 5 [2 favorites]


Fucking fuckers. I cannot even YAAAAARRRRRGGGGHHHH
posted by Bringer Tom at 6:30 PM on July 5 [30 favorites]


I'm OK with this as long as there's sufficient help for students to make their plans, and exceptions for special circumstances (like the genius kids I knew who got $80K IT jobs right out of high school). But it sounds like it won't work on either of these counts.

On a side note, my high school counselor had 480 other students to counsel. Which turned out not to be a problem, because he got fired freshman year for physically assaulting another counselor in the office and was never replaced. I think sometimes it's easy to forget how bad conditions are in some of these schools.
posted by miyabo at 6:33 PM on July 5 [6 favorites]


Leave it to a neoliberal death's head like Rahm to formalize the school-to-wage-slavery pipeline. I'll bet there's a private sector "solution" waiting to jam its blood funnel into this process, too.
posted by ryanshepard at 6:34 PM on July 5 [84 favorites]


My take: this is all a scheme to get (poor, black) kids to join the military.

So...A military draft without actually reinstating the draft?
posted by Thorzdad at 6:34 PM on July 5 [29 favorites]


The City Colleges of Chicago will admit any public school graduate, so it's basically a formality. You can apply to your nearest city college, show the acceptance letter to graduate, and then not go. But some people can't get it together enough to jump through stupid hoops, and it's galling no matter what. They don't have the money to provide staff who will help students prepare for their post-high-school futures, so instead they're doing this meaningless symbolic gesture.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 6:35 PM on July 5 [39 favorites]


This is a terrible idea.
posted by hijinx at 6:39 PM on July 5 [15 favorites]


I certainly hope the ACLU is going to be all over this.
posted by MexicanYenta at 6:39 PM on July 5 [34 favorites]


How about setting up some kind of central counseling service? Have them go round to the various schools and help like that? I think the idea of encouraging some accountability is wonderful. But what happens if you don't know? Do you have to repeat school? Or are you out on the street without even a HS diploma?
posted by LuckyMonkey21 at 6:41 PM on July 5


This is one of the most fucked up ideas I've ever heard. I didn't graduate from high school, and I can tell you firsthand that it closes a ton of doors. We should not be adding hoops. This is one of those ideas that only sounds reasonable to someone completely disconnected from the real world. I can guarantee this will fuck up kids' futures. Rahm is a piece of absolute garbage.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 6:43 PM on July 5 [102 favorites]


It is so deeply weird that someone would think "Already having trouble finding a job? We'll deny you your diploma so it gets even harder!" was helpful.
posted by nebulawindphone at 6:44 PM on July 5 [128 favorites]


"i plan not to get my ass shot off"
posted by pyramid termite at 6:44 PM on July 5 [4 favorites]


The City Colleges of Chicago will admit any public school graduate, so it's basically a formality

Sure, in Chicago - but what about when this gets imitated in , say, Atlanta?
posted by thelonius at 6:55 PM on July 5 [6 favorites]


What if your plan is to move away? To find a rich husvand/wife? To go into private business ir become a consultant? Fuck these people trying to force their shit on people that is beyond their remit and beyond their grasp.
posted by Meatbomb at 6:57 PM on July 5 [16 favorites]


They already EARNED that diploma. Infuriating!
posted by thebrokedown at 6:57 PM on July 5 [33 favorites]


So, no diplomas for anyone who's a young parent and staying home with a kid for a little bit, no diplomas for people who have disability issues that might make getting a job harder, and more people trapped in the limbo where they need the diploma to get the job but can't get it because they're not employed. This is awful.
posted by bile and syntax at 6:59 PM on July 5 [75 favorites]


Karen Lewis was my Academic Decathlon coach a long time ago.

I can say from observation, that there does not exist a hoop anywhere in or near Chicago that she has not personally helped a teenager jump through. She knows her hoops. And if she says this one need not exist, then it need not exist.
posted by ocschwar at 6:59 PM on July 5 [35 favorites]


This is literally the exact opposite of what is helpful in an ever-automating economy.

(Also what about service dogs?)
posted by dhens at 7:00 PM on July 5 [1 favorite]


This program also strikes me as a blatant attempt to pander to someone (pundits? state government? voters?) to make a big show of trying to do something to improve the schools without actually doing something helpful to improve the schools. I apologize for the use of the term here, but one might even say "busywork."
posted by dhens at 7:02 PM on July 5 [6 favorites]


The problem isn't accountability; it's opportunity. Talking about holding kids accountable is code. It's completely misplacing the blame in a way that only makes sense within the framework of a noxious set of beliefs.

This is also going to hurt kids with disabilities or kids who are family caretakers. Even if they say that there will be exceptions made, pursuing those are a bureaucratic nightmare more often than not.

This is so terrible.
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 7:05 PM on July 5 [59 favorites]


I mean, for all the reasons this is bad and wrong and dumb as hell, there's the thing .

This is totally unenforceable. No HS admin has the time to background check *hundreds* of applications. Some enterprising kid just needs a nearby Kinkos.
posted by The Whelk at 7:05 PM on July 5 [9 favorites]


My take: this is all a scheme to get (poor, black) kids to join the military.

Rahm Emanuel doesn't give a damn about staffing the military. He's just one of those assholes who thinks that a sufficiently motivated person can overcome anything.
posted by Etrigan at 7:05 PM on July 5 [22 favorites]


The issue isn't a lack of a plan on the part of these young adults - it's systemic oppression, intergenerational oppression, and a lack of investment in communities and schools and education. It is a lack of resources at school, home and in communities. I can't even. This is appalling.
posted by anya32 at 7:08 PM on July 5 [33 favorites]


They already EARNED that diploma.

Pretty soon they'll merely be licensing it. Somewhere, in an ed tech think tank, someone is writing the EULA right now.
posted by ryanshepard at 7:09 PM on July 5 [14 favorites]


Calming down a bit now. Calm. Calmer. AAA*squelch*

OK Rahm, as far as your high school is concerned 12th grade IS DONE. Denying earned credentials is not an appropriate way to control people past the point where, let's face it, you aren't supposed to be controlling them any more no matter how good an idea you or anybody thinks it is.

AND THIS IDEA MAKES YOU AN EVIL MOTHERFUCKER OF THE FIRST*squelch*

Sorry about that. Got to get back to work on this mineshaft gap.
posted by Bringer Tom at 7:11 PM on July 5 [7 favorites]


for atmosphere
posted by jonmc at 7:16 PM on July 5


Somebody should set up a handful of DBAs and LLCs solely for the purpose of generating, on letterhead, two letters, as follows:

Dear [Student],

Congratulations! We are pleased to accept your application to work as a [plausible-sounding entry-level job title] at Amalgamated Widget Trucking, LLC. As discussed you will begin working on [Graduation Date + 7-21 days]. We are happy you are joining the Amalgamated Widget Trucking team!


Then, the day after graduation:

Dear [Student],

We regret to inform you that we are forced to rescind our offer of employment. We wish you the best of luck in your future endeavors.
posted by gauche at 7:18 PM on July 5 [28 favorites]


The other incredibly frustrating thing about this is that it's going to be another demand on the time and attention of already-overstretched guidance counselors. Ultimately, what's going to happen is that guidance counselors are going to spend a lot of time tracking down kids who don't have concrete post-graduation plans and helping them fill out applications to community college, which will automatically be accepted, so they'll be able to graduate. And because that's a totally pressing need that will be necessary to make sure that students graduate, it will take precedence over things like helping 10th graders pick out classes that will make them competitive for four-year public colleges. If the goal is to prepare students for college, this is totally counterproductive.

The solution is to hire enough guidance counselors so that they can do actually college and career counseling, rather than spending all their time dealing with students who are in crisis. But that's clearly not going to happen, because it would require actual resources.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 7:20 PM on July 5 [34 favorites]


It's funny how much of the Chicago Public Schools' problems might improve if they were adequately funded. Funny.
posted by bile and syntax at 7:24 PM on July 5 [32 favorites]


No matter how much "intuitive sense" it seems to make to people that punishing and threatening people is a way of motivating them, it doesn't actually work that way. Like the death penalty doesn't deter murderers. Like "three strikes" law and mandatory minimum sentencing don't make people turn their lives around.

But punishment and threat seem to be our two-pronged approach to improving public schooling. Threaten schools with being called "failing" if they don't improve test results. (The heck with improving funding for schools in poor communities) Punish teachers for daring to try to teach. (The heck with improving teacher education, reducing class sizes, or providing support) Threaten kids with not graduating if they don't have jobs (The heck with early intervention in their lives, pregnancy assistance, counseling, support groups, writing centers, and even vocational programs in the high schools).

Real useful.

Of course, it's a lot cheaper this way.

On preview, what bile and syntax said more briefly.
posted by Peach at 7:27 PM on July 5 [6 favorites]


It definitely seems like a PR stunt to, I guess, appeal to middle class conservatives - most likely for some sort of future run for higher office.

It's PR because it's not enforceable or effective. But, to the extent that it's appealing, I would assume that the motivation is less helping folks in Chicago, and more, as koavf says, that it's an effort to funnel surplus labor into the military. Not for any concern for the military, but just to make it so that they are no longer the city's problem. To middle class conservative ideology, nobody is entitled to any sort of support unless they are putting their life on the line. Even once you accept this for dead-eyed PR, the base motive is still cruel.
posted by codacorolla at 7:31 PM on July 5 [3 favorites]


I kinda wonder when the first ADA-related lawsuit is going to kick in.

I expect other lawsuits to also pour in - what counts as "an offer of employment?" Can a nice weird group in California send out letters of job offerings, with no salary information (or, hire as unpaid interns), to students en mass? Can students show a Patreon account? Is there an income threshold to qualify as a job?

And how long does that requirement take - can you take a few years off to sort out what you want to do in life, live with parents, and eventually get a job - and then demand your high school hand over your diploma? I'd love to see the text of the new law. There are more details at this article but still not the actual new rule/law/wtfever this is.

I am baffled by this: “I know what’s not good for kids is allowing them to go into a job market and the rest of their lives with a high school diploma when everything tells you that they need more than that,” Emanuel said.

So... since a diploma is not enough, he's going to withhold that? What, exactly, is HE doing to make sure they have the "more" that he says they need?

This is bouncing around tumblr, and people are pointing out that he's making damn sure kids don't graduate without "a plan," but can't be bothered to make sure every school has a library - or even toilet paper that the teachers don't have to buy themselves.
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 7:36 PM on July 5 [18 favorites]


What it really sounds like: If you're a sophomore and aren't sure what you're doing after high school... just drop out now and save everyone the effort of dealing with those other two years.
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 7:38 PM on July 5 [17 favorites]


There are definitely a ton of high school students who desperately need a workable and realistic plan for what happens next.

This approach, though, is painfully stupid for all the reasons people have already identified. It punishes the people who most need the help, won't work at all for any number of individual situations both good and bad, and is a coercive approach to a much more complex and embedded problem.
posted by Dip Flash at 7:40 PM on July 5 [5 favorites]


Is he going to be mayor until he retires, just like most of his predecessors? What a horrible, horrible man.
posted by great_radio at 7:54 PM on July 5 [1 favorite]


So at risk of turning every MetaFilter thread into a conversation about strip clubs, I'm a stripper and I look at much of society through that lens. I'm curious: Does work in the legal sex industry count towards this "post-graduation plan" requirement?

The Washington Post article (upon which the linked article is based) has more information, but doesn't specifically address whether *any* work would qualify, or if the school officials (guidance counselors?) would have discretion to approve certain jobs and not others.

Most strip clubs in the U.S. are 21+ for patrons, with exceptions of a much smaller number of 18+ clubs — but dancing is 18+ in all the jurisdictions that I'm aware of, even if the club itself is 21+ for patrons. And a substantial portion (most?) of most high school seniors are 18 years old upon graduating.

Of course, I would be surprised if Chicago high schools signed off on careers in the sex industry without a substantial fight ... and I don't know enough about the structure of this program or the legal aspects of public education to speculate on whether that fight would work. But.

While I'm supportive of sex work in general, I could see this potentially becoming an unintended funnel into the sex industry for young women who aren't cut out for it.

My club frowns upon hiring girls as dancers if they are under the age of 21. Eighteen is almost a definite "no," 19 is a highly probable "no," and 20 is still a probable "no." Girls who are under 21 make up a tiny percentage of our overall staff. They're under more scrutiny and are far more likely to get fired for behavior that the girls who are 21+ get away with, from serious things like pushing the envelope sexually in the champagne room to more minor infractions like showing up late for your shift.

The management at my club recognizes that a girl who enters the sex industry at 18 or 19 years old is more likely to be doing so because she has no other options, came from a more difficult upbringing, and/or may be struggling actively with problems that they club doesn't want a piece of (drugs, a pimp, etc.). There are exceptions to this pattern, of course, but the pattern definitely exists for that "barely legal" (so to speak) demographic.

But my club is certainly not every club, and there are plenty of clubs that will shrug and freely hire those girls anyway.

So, let's say a bunch of 18-year-old girls have realized that they can make money as strippers upon graduating, probably more money than they can make in most other jobs right now. Now you add into the mix that they need *a job* to graduate at all, which society agrees is the first step (of several) to a decent chance at a decent career.

What do the schools do at that point? I'm betting the guidance counselors aren't game for that headache.

I understand the noble goal of this plan, and I'll withhold final judgment until we get more details. But at first glance, this plan seems rife with unintended consequences.
posted by Peppermint Snowflake at 7:56 PM on July 5 [51 favorites]


> The City Colleges of Chicago will admit any public school graduate, so it's basically a formality. You can apply to your nearest city college, show the acceptance letter to graduate, and then not go. But some people can't get it together enough to jump through stupid hoops, and it's galling no matter what. They don't have the money to provide staff who will help students prepare for their post-high-school futures, so instead they're doing this meaningless symbolic gesture.

Right, so we teach our kids that at the very least they need to pretend to adopt this meaningless formality and put some effort into straight-up lying, without regard for the poor admissions staff at the local community college who have to process all of this damn paperwork.

It's worse than meaningless. It's removing the kids' agency while passing down a shit-ton of emotional labor onto them, their parents, their guidance counselors and teachers, community college staff, and gods know who else down the line so that some politician can pat himself on the back and middle-class folks can continue to despise the poor. Gross.
posted by desuetude at 8:00 PM on July 5 [22 favorites]


Is Rahm going to push for the private school where he sends his kids to add this requirement? If it's such a great idea....
posted by cushie at 8:05 PM on July 5 [9 favorites]


This is just the worst idea. Every single person who had any hand in this should feel very, very bad and also be voted out and/or fired, effective immediately.
posted by soren_lorensen at 8:09 PM on July 5 [4 favorites]


I am a software developer. In my misspent youth, among other things, I graduated summa cum laude from college, did a Master's degree, and then went to law school, where I finished in the top 10% even though there is no amount of money that would have persuaded me to take the bar exam by that point.

I did not go to college until I turned 21 and did not find work for a good year after graduating from high school. And would not at that point have found work at all if I didn't have a diploma.

That said, you know what nowhere I ever worked did? Verified my high school diploma with my school or asked for official transcripts or to see the piece of paper or any of that.

So... way to put kids into a position where, if they aren't college-bound, they can totally get around this just by lying on their resumes or job applications. Might as well start teaching them that the job market is completely corrupt from day 1, I guess.
posted by Sequence at 8:12 PM on July 5 [4 favorites]


I kinda wonder when the first ADA-related lawsuit is going to kick in.

It's not ADA I'd be thinking about, but Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, and the relevant CFR, which states, in part, "The obligation to comply with this part is not obviated or alleviated because employment opportunities in any occupation or profession are or may be more limited for handicapped persons than for nonhandicapped persons. "

Section 504 also makes clear that not only is denying a free, appropriate public education to students disabilities illegal under federal law, but that it is a violation of those students' civil rights, and the DoJ (if it still is willing to do this) has plenty of room to prosecute those that violate said civil rights.
posted by thegears at 8:14 PM on July 5 [5 favorites]


I just found out my son, who graduated a month ago, had to show his college admissions letter (or a job offer or military contract) to his guidance counselor or, he was told, he would not graduate. I had no idea. I'm a teacher and certified hover-mother who has had the TEA graduation requirements bookmarked since they changed in 2015. I also go over them once a year with admin and counselors at his 504 Plan meetings. I've never heard of this requirement. It's nowhere in the district website that I can find.

Others above have spoken more eloquently about why this is a bad idea and I agree with you. And as an educator, I'm heartened by your thoughtful comments.

I asked my son if he knew what happened to kids who didn't fulfill this requirement. He didn't and neither do I and I'm just..it's just flames... flames on the side my face.

I'm calling the school to find out tomorrow.
posted by blessedlyndie at 8:19 PM on July 5 [37 favorites]


Just so I'm clear -- kids will have to secure a job *before* they've graduated high school?

So... This would mean that the jobs they secure do not actually require a high school diploma, which in turn makes diplomas irrelevant under this diploma-increasing scheme?
posted by Capt. Renault at 8:28 PM on July 5 [19 favorites]


ErisLordFreedom: "I expect other lawsuits to also pour in - what counts as "an offer of employment?" Can a nice weird group in California send out letters of job offerings, with no salary information (or, hire as unpaid interns), to students en mass? Can students show a Patreon account? Is there an income threshold to qualify as a job?"

Or more simply what is stopping a bunch of students (maybe even district wide) from banding together to offer each other jobs in something plausible with minimal capital requirements like house painting, window washing or landscaping. A few hundred bucks for a business licence, phone number, and PO Box and you are good to go. Grad17 House Painting could employ every student who applies with zero hour contracts. And fold as soon as the paperwork for diplomas goes though.
posted by Mitheral at 8:28 PM on July 5 [7 favorites]


IANAL but I'm optimistic that this won't survive legal challenges. My hazy recollection of the legal history of non-academic requirements for graduation, at least for public colleges and universities, is that they've often been successfully challenged in courts. There are a lot of differences between (voluntary) public colleges/universities and (compulsory) public high schools but the legal principles should be the same in that the graduation requirements should have a reasonable relationship to the academic mission and goals of the institution. I seem to recall several instances in which high schools have tried to withhold diplomas for conduct-related reasons, especially undesirable student (alumni?) behavior at graduation ceremonies, that have been slapped down by courts because the student had completed the academic requirements and the withholding was deemed to be retaliatory and unrelated to the certification of the student's academic accomplishments. I'm tired and not a legal expert so I might be misremembering things or just inventing them wholesale but right now I'm optimistic.

Anyone with a better grasp of the legal histories and principles involved that can chime in?
posted by ElKevbo at 8:29 PM on July 5 [3 favorites]


Now, even the "centrist" political positions only aim to serve the white public's underlying sadistic impulses.
posted by bonobothegreat at 8:30 PM on July 5 [5 favorites]


So a job offer would be conditional upon you getting a diploma, and the diploma is conditional upon you getting a job offer, and someone has to blink first, and in the meantime the kid is in limbo with no control over any of it?
posted by Capt. Renault at 8:34 PM on July 5 [4 favorites]


Ok, so: inevitably there will be kids with perfectly fine academics who are denied a diploma through no fault of their own

Great job Rahm
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 8:44 PM on July 5 [1 favorite]


"Good idea on paper" wtf?

(& yeah, my first thought was "military recruitment drive")
posted by pompomtom at 8:46 PM on July 5


I'll bet there's a private sector "solution" waiting to jam its blood funnel into this process, too.

Maybe I've been getting into Better Call Saul a bit too much, but I'm thinking that this might be an opportunity to start up Halloween Jack's Gap Year Barn. Come on down I-55 to Normal, Illinois and do your gap year in just 365 minutes! "You'll have so much fun, you'll swear that you just got here!" Only $365 (travel and food not included, bring your own portable entertainment system) while supplies* last!

*I see my major expense as being printer ink for the certificates.
posted by Halloween Jack at 8:55 PM on July 5 [4 favorites]


people are pointing out that he's making damn sure kids don't graduate without "a plan," but can't be bothered to make sure every school has a library - or even toilet paper that the teachers don't have to buy themselves.

I often turn to MetaFilter for news stories which would not pass my eyeballs otherwise (such as this one) and views that might have never occurred to me (such as several above). I turn to mefites with a greater knowledge of Chicago secondary schools than my own: if there are some schools lacking libraries and basic sanitary supplies, what percentage of them have guidance counselors?
posted by ricochet biscuit at 9:17 PM on July 5 [2 favorites]


This is totally unenforceable. No HS admin has the time to background check *hundreds* of applications. Some enterprising kid just needs a nearby Kinkos.

My immediate thought was that someone was going to make a lot of money making fake college acceptance letters or job offer letters. Go, entrepreneurship.
posted by dlugoczaj at 9:22 PM on July 5 [1 favorite]


And to think that I had the idea that majoring in English was a good idea in the mid-70's! (Lack of specificity due to lack of planning on my part.) Well, it was all I could do, except play the piano, which I tried for years before developing an actual plan for making a living at the time, not a good time to find work in the Midwest. White Privilege provides one with some wiggle room about making up one's mind about what degrees and what jobs to pursue.

This is not the Best of All Possible Worlds, and it is not getting Bester for anyone I know.
posted by kozad at 9:25 PM on July 5


Some children gonna get left behind.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 9:28 PM on July 5 [2 favorites]


For clarity, Chicago-area critics say the scheme is toothless because all graduates are automatically accepted to City Colleges of Chicago, and that while the plan was adopted, specific policies will be enacted by the school board sometime between now and 2020. (There are also questions from Illinois school law folks about whether it's legal, for reasons lots of you have mentioned above. IEP students would, presumably, be able to opt out of the requirement, as they are already able to opt out of other Illinois and local graduation requirements if so determined in their IEP.)

So, making students in low-income schools make post-graduation plans actually does increase graduation rates, and increases college enrollment rates quite a bit. My district does something similar, except that students are "expected" to make a plan, but not "required" in the sense that they can graduate without one. Further, we evaluate our guidance counselors on how many students have completed a post-grad plan, rather than penalizing students. And before we did that, we literally doubled the counseling staff at ALL levels, K through 12. And in addition to all of that, we revitalized our moribund voc-tech program and created seven new certificate programs that allow students to graduate with a diploma AND a certification required to work (as a hairdresser or barber, as a CNA, with certain kinds of car repair certificates, going direct-entry into some union apprenticeships, etc.). And on top of that our college awareness counseling begins in kindergarten -- a lot of these kids don't know anyone who's gone to college, or anything about going to college, so now they start learning it's an option for them right away in kindergarten and the schools create cultures of college expectation, where the kids are given some of the cultural competencies that upper middle class kids get in what they understand about and expect from college.

And then building on that, we provide -- in several languages! -- classes for parents starting the freshman year in high school about how to get your kid to college. It covers academic requirements, study skills, the application process, how to do a FAFSA, hurdles faced by first-in-family to go to college, hurdles faced by low-income or immigrant children in college, etc. They start coming to monthly evening meetings freshman year, where a hot catered dinner is provided every month!, and child care for younger children!, and they learn about what they need to be doing now to push their kids towards college. They learn how to help a child recover from an academic setback (what sorts of summer school or distance-learning options are available to overwrite a bad grade, for example), and how to prep for the ACTs, and what kinds of study skills their kids should be developing, and they get connected to area companies with internships for the kids that build resumes, and what classes their kids should be taking, and so on. And they build a lot of relationships within the groups of parents coming every month who create a community. And as they get into junior and senior year, they take the parents through the FAFSA and the ACTs and the application process. And if you speak Spanish we have the entire program in Spanish. And if you are not literate we have counselors whose whole job is to walk you through the entire process orally so you can understand it even if you can't read it, and who can incidentally connect you to adult literacy programs but that is not the main focus here and if you don't want to do that it's fine. And if you speak Gujarati, by God we are going to have a fucking Gujarati translator there and we will get the main documents translated for you, so you don't have to rely on your punk-ass kid to translate, because punk-ass kids are known to leave inconvenient truths out of their translation.

Incidentally another thing that's provided at the parent classes is a 9-month program devoted to nothing but the bureaucracy and operations of the school district, with an eye towards making disenfranchised parents more effective advocates for their kids and savvier about navigating bureaucracy ... but also making them effective advocates for other people's kids (seeding institutional knowledge of how to work the system in poorer neighborhoods and making it local knowledge belonging to the community), and offering a boot camp for any parent interested in running for school board.

Because you don't get students to college (or jobs) just by saying "hey it would be really good if you guys went to college or got jobs, in fact I think we'll just hang on to your diploma until you do." You do it by creating an infrastructure of support for students, and families, that begins when they're five (or even younger, ideally) and that provides support and education every step of the way.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 9:29 PM on July 5 [125 favorites]


I meant to say, if this is implemented in its current ill-thought-out form (and when turned into an actual policy it's possible it won't suck! sometimes that happens!), it's highly likely Rahmbo will get a statistically significant boost in students who find employment or enter college right after high school. There is a cohort there (10%? total spitballing) who are on track to graduate but not very future-oriented, or maybe don't have an involved parent, and maybe live in neighborhoods with high unemployment and only have hazy ideas of what adult work looks like, and they're sort-of drifting, who, when forced to consider what they're going to do next, will actually figure something out, because they know they're going to need the diploma, even if they don't have an immediate plan. They'll come up with one, and it'll be helpful, and they will succeed better for having been forced to reckon with their futures before graduating.

And then in five years we'll start seeing the stories from kids who got fucked by not getting a diploma because they were 18 and directionless and now are 24 and have plans but are SCREWED by not having a diploma. Or who joined the military just so they could graduate and now have complicated PTSD. Or who flunked out of college because they didn't really want to be there and weren't ready but had to have a post-grad plan, and now can't reenroll.

I think there will be an immediate boost, and there will be a cohort of students who are helped by this, and I think those two things will be apparent quickly, and you will hear a lot about it from Rahmbo and ed reformers. I think the cohort of students who are utterly fucked by it won't become apparent until a few years down the road when a shit-ton of damage has already been done.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 9:37 PM on July 5 [28 favorites]


This can also target the poor a lot harder than the rich, as the rich can just have their parents deal with this total bullshit with fake whatever or threatening to sue, and have the kid go off to do their VVanderlust, or whatever, while the poor will have fuck-all leverage to bullshit the bullshit system.

This is all bullshit.

You know, looking back, I should have NOT gone to college right after highschool. I wasn't ready, and my family wasn't in any way able to support me. If I had just stayed at home, and perhaps just been a help to them, it may have been a better time for all of us. I can't help but think of all the plausible real-world examples were a HS kids graduates with no job, or no college plans.
posted by alex_skazat at 9:38 PM on July 5 [4 favorites]


I used to say that Chicago was a great city, except for the weather and the crime and the corruption. With everything else going on there now, I don't think I'll ever go back to live in my home town.
posted by davejay at 9:41 PM on July 5


Also if I want to be roving train tramp, or a lady of the night, or to disappear in the Wilderness, or become a heroin addict, guess what public school system: none of your business!
posted by alex_skazat at 9:47 PM on July 5 [8 favorites]


If they really want to help these kids, how about dropping this requirement and adding a "planning your life after highschool" elective class?
posted by fings at 9:52 PM on July 5 [7 favorites]


This is a terrible idea. Do they have to approve of the choice too?
"Oh, you're only working part-time at McDonald's? Sorry, it needs to be full-time. No diploma for you!"
"You're going to that college? Come on, you can do better than that. No diploma until you show me that you're going to a more academically rigorous school."
"You're doing an an apprenticeship in that? Don't you know that's a dying industry? Nice try, but that's not going to cut it."
posted by SisterHavana at 9:57 PM on July 5 [2 favorites]


If they really want to help these kids, how about dropping this requirement and adding a "planning your life after highschool" elective class?

I see no reason to make this an elective, except it would cover student loans for college and then about 90% of kids wouldn't ever think of going to college so quickly.
posted by alex_skazat at 10:16 PM on July 5 [2 favorites]


Putting my "experienced teacher" hat on for a second, because my eyes are rolling so hard I can't even read all this shit:

Assuming this will even survive to implementation, what it really comes down to is an added, meaningless hoop to jump through. Some kids will stress while others won't, and in the end the stress will prove needless--though very real and unpleasant. It's gonna come down to one more bit of bullshit paperwork to provide showing a college plan (or a job or whatever). Especially given how, as noted, City Colleges will admit any Chicago graduate. The kids won't even have to follow through on any of it 'cause once they have their diploma, they're done. So what it will provide is one more experience in contempt for pointless bureaucracy.

But it may very well help create an inflated number of "college-bound graduate" stats for Chicago schools. An awful lot of people in education put a really gross amount of value in those stats.

And Jesus fucking Christ I can't begin to express my contempt for a city "leadership" that would put this on a district that has faced the sorts of cuts and demands that Chicago already deals with. Fuck you, Rahm. Fuck you for even opening your mouth.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 10:35 PM on July 5 [9 favorites]


One of the big pushes in education in my world right now is a push to give kids the skills they need to be entrepreneurs - to start their own business endeavors if they choose. Would this program allow kids with the skills and vision to set off on their own in like tech, business or arts? If not, that's another reason this is a bad idea.
posted by Joey Michaels at 11:19 PM on July 5 [1 favorite]


IANAL but I'm optimistic that this won't survive legal challenges.

Whether or not it survives legal challenges is almost irrelevant though. Chicago is still putting a generation of high school graduates through unnecessary and moronic hoops to get something they're already entitled to, which for nice middle class kids won't be a problem (but you'd be surprised) but once again will add to the burden of the already vulnerable.

All so Rahm Emanuel can prove once again he is the worst kind of Clintonite arse cancer on Earth and posture in the runup for whatever higher office he wants to try his hand at.

Relying on jucidial fixes for Democratic owned dumb fuckery is why the Democrats are useless.
posted by MartinWisse at 11:31 PM on July 5 [3 favorites]


Ugh. The fetish around college as some sort of ultimate good is completely out of control. Right now, a generic college education provides a level of differentiation for employers, to sort those who've shown a willingness to comply with requirements and an interest in fitting into the system from those who have not demonstrated such an interest. While there are certainly careers that need people to have specialized training and advanced education to be able to work within that field, many career paths do not really demand such things nor do many of the people who've completed a college degree show any greater depth of knowledge or ability than many of those who may not have completed such a program.

Attempting to force all students into college or other advanced learning/training cannot, in the end, provide what it is claimed such a path will lead to as it will only remove a level of differentiation between those seeking employment and not actually provide much in the way of excess jobs, other than in debt collection industries perhaps. The same employment needs will exist if college was compulsory, so there will necessarily be people who complete their degrees and are not able to find jobs since having a degree does not guarantee anything other than debt and a piece of paper saying you completed the program. There will long be more need for low wage workers than there will be for specialized, high wage work, so there is going to be a systemic problem in employment opportunities and income whether all people go to college or specialized training or not.

If that kind of secondary education is so vital to American industry, then, fine, American industries should pay for it and make it free for all, providing some buffer years for young people to find their way towards whatever they see as most suitable for their longer term interests. That, of course, is unlikely to happen since US industry doesn't need all students to have a degree or training, they only need a small selection of individuals to fill their demand and the rest to take on all the other shitty little jobs that keep the service industries going and provide just enough income to maintain demand for the shitty little products the big industries make, while relying on enough people who aren't comfortable in educational settings to join the military or other meat grinding employment to provide security for the system.

The entirety of the system is either breaking down or already broken and these sorts of "cures" will do nothing to fix it, but since so much money and power is tied to maintaining the status quo, there is no real desire to actually find ways to better provide for students or the long term health of the country.
posted by gusottertrout at 11:38 PM on July 5 [9 favorites]


I'm intrigued that the Board of Education passed this. Who is on the board? Business owners? Did actual educators have any input to this policy? I hope they get sued.
posted by polymodus at 12:30 AM on July 6 [1 favorite]


To me, the uninvolved bystander, this reads like it will create barriers for students who don't have the means to apply for college or to find a job (I mean, please! Qualified adults have problems finding jobs. Who's going to hire every HS graduate in Chicago?) and will also handily inflate enrollment numbers for Chicago colleges in order to acquire federal funding(?) What happens to schools that suddenly produce extremely low numbers of HS graduates due to this new barrier, do they close?
posted by Autumnheart at 4:53 AM on July 6


Or who joined the military just so they could graduate and now have complicated PTSD.

This is not even the problem with joining the military en masse immediately after high school, says the person with complex PTSD.

The problem with joining the military immediately after high school is it is a highly disciplined force that does not have a lot of tolerance for initial screw ups, and a bad character discharge permanently bars you from a lot of different types of employment and public benefits. It works well for people straight out of high school who already have some sense of what it will be like, through having friends or family who have been a part of it, but it does not work well for people who have trouble with authority, as people with pre existing trauma often do. I have seen it chew kids up and spit them out even before getting to combat, and before they've done enough time to qualify for any of the generous veterans benefits they would otherwise be entitled to. These kids would not be served by a brief one year stint before being bounced out.
posted by corb at 5:16 AM on July 6 [22 favorites]


I'm intrigued that the Board of Education passed this. Who is on the board? Business owners? Did actual educators have any input to this policy? I hope they get sued.

The Board of Education in Chicago serves at the behest of the Mayor. Hence the problem. All attempts to change this situation have failed - so far, but there are still attempts.
posted by lagomorphius at 5:28 AM on July 6 [1 favorite]


and will also handily inflate enrollment numbers for Chicago colleges in order to acquire federal funding(?)
I don't think that community colleges would get any extra money from any source unless students actually enrolled. Students pay by the credit hour, and I don't think it matters at all how many students have filled out an application.

I think this is a stupid, stupid policy that shows a lot of contempt for and ignorance of the actual lives of Chicago Public School students and teachers, but I don't think it's a conspiracy on behalf of the military or the community colleges or anyone else. It's just some jerks who want to look like they're addressing a problem without having to pay anything or put in any real effort.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 5:38 AM on July 6 [5 favorites]


I'm not even sure what to say about this other than fuck Rahm.
posted by tobascodagama at 5:57 AM on July 6 [2 favorites]


This is a stupid idea and is going to have so many terrible unintended consequences beyond the terrible intended 'unintended' consequences.
posted by rmd1023 at 6:05 AM on July 6 [2 favorites]



Dumb beyond comprehension. And I say this as someone who benefited big time from being forced into the Marine Corps at sixteen years of age.
posted by notreally at 6:16 AM on July 6 [2 favorites]


This is DeVos level evil and stupid.
posted by Artw at 6:25 AM on July 6 [8 favorites]


This awful plan perpetuates the destructive falsehood that young people owe their lives and productivity to the state and corporate interests. They have survived 12+ years of compulsory education - often in spirit-crushing, prison-like environments - and are now expected to pledge their futures? To show that they appreciate and deserve the beggar's banquet of state largess forced on them as children? Hell no. They are free Americans.
posted by Svejk at 6:57 AM on July 6 [20 favorites]


What happens to schools that suddenly produce extremely low numbers of HS graduates due to this new barrier, do they close?

What do you think?
posted by Halloween Jack at 8:28 AM on July 6 [1 favorite]


What if you're a YouTube celebrity, or something? Or planning to do contract work? There's no employer there, no offer of a job, nobody with a letterhead to write it down on paper.
posted by BungaDunga at 8:29 AM on July 6


This awful plan perpetuates the destructive falsehood that young people owe their lives and productivity to the state and corporate interests.

Also that the reason young people are struggling is because no one is holding them "accountable," instead of their opportunities being systematically looted.
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 9:32 AM on July 6 [13 favorites]


Agree. When is the system held accountable? When do the neoliberal administrators & the people who vote against their tax dollars going to "those people" answer for their actions?
posted by Kitty Stardust at 9:51 AM on July 6 [3 favorites]


What if you're a YouTube celebrity, or something? Or planning to do contract work? There's no employer there, no offer of a job, nobody with a letterhead to write it down on paper.

Then you don't need a diploma, right? If you're self-employed, then obviously having a hs diploma doesn't matter! And of course, nobody who's self-employed at 18 is going to be interested in a more traditional job or college education in three years, so there's no need to give them a diploma they might want a few years from now.

I want to know about deadlines on this - is it, "you must show X documentation within this six-month window, or lose your chance at a diploma forever," or can you kick around for a few years, get hired at the local bike shop, and then tell your high school to hand over you diploma?
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 10:41 AM on July 6


In response to the question above about the availability of counseling to kids in CPS schools in low-income areas: This story is about fourth-graders, but is compelling, deeply distressing, and a powerful argument against "they just need to try harder."

The bit relevant to this topic is that, among the kids who are profiled, none qualify to see the school social worker. Not the kids who don't eat when school isn't in session. Not the kid whose cousin is killed (and who can calmly rattle off a list of all the people she knows who've been shot, how many times, and in what body parts), not the kid who was picked up at school to be placed into foster care by a foster worker and three police officers, and dragged out screaming (and whose mother had allegedly murdered a boyfriend while he was at home).

The reporter says that only 18 of 367 kids at that elementary school get to see a social worker. I'm not holding my breath that the high schools are particularly better off.
posted by telepanda at 10:41 AM on July 6 [3 favorites]


So I think this is very bad and there's lots of good arguments against it in the thread.

What I don't get is, why is this even being proposed? Is there a crisis of too many kids graduating high school I didn't hear about?

My mental model can't quite explain it: I have "adopt a policy that seems to DO SOMETHING tough" + "the victims of the policy are not politically organized." But that doesn't quite explain it.

Why this exactly?
posted by grobstein at 11:33 AM on July 6 [2 favorites]


It would be a requirement for all CPS students but not all charter school students, right? I can see who might benefit from lowering the public school graduation rates.
posted by sleepingcbw at 12:00 PM on July 6 [2 favorites]


What the hell business is it of the school district what students' plans are after high school?
posted by spindrifter at 12:42 PM on July 6 [3 favorites]


What I don't get is, why is this even being proposed?

Because it sounds good, if you don't think about it for more than 3 seconds. Public schools, particularly urban public schools, are a complex system which is popularly agreed to be "broken" and about which "something" needs to be done. Rather than acknowledging the complexity to the system, which often has its roots in socio-economic factors beyond the school system, proposing a simplistic, easily understood, and, most importantly, easily messaged solution allows a politician to show how committed they are to doing "something" to "fix" a "broken" system.

In this case, it's the classic technique of identifying a simplified ideal outcome, and then requiring that outcome happen, per policy, law, etc. without actually putting in place any of the complicated, nuanced, introspective changes which would actually bring about said outcome. Just make the desired end-state the required end-state, pretend like this is a solution, and blame the teacher's union, a "culture of poverty," or whatever when it doesn't occur. The most important thing is that you did "something."
posted by Panjandrum at 1:08 PM on July 6 [11 favorites]


This can also target the poor a lot harder than the rich, as the rich can just have their parents deal with this total bullshit with fake whatever or threatening to sue, and have the kid go off to do their VVanderlust, or whatever, while the poor will have fuck-all leverage to bullshit the bullshit system.

You're not being cynical enough.

There's an explicit exception for gap years.
posted by PMdixon at 2:36 PM on July 6 [4 favorites]


Our college awareness counseling begins in kindergarten -- a lot of these kids don't know anyone who's gone to college, or anything about going to college, so now they start learning it's an option for them right away in kindergarten and the schools create cultures of college expectation.

I'm the only member of the Mouse family to have gone to college and I would have killed for something like this. I work with kids now and would love more info on how to instil this kind of cultural competency in little kids. You explained really well how it works for teens, but what form does it take with kindergarteners? The only thing that came to mind was incorporating college experiences into roleplay games, the same way kids of that age roleplay being shopkeepers, police officers etc.
posted by the latin mouse at 12:13 AM on July 7


Or who joined the military just so they could graduate and now have complicated PTSD.

Corb's response to this is totally correct, but as someone who works with disabled veterans - complex PTSD is just one of many options, especially for our very recent veterans. Traumatic brain injury, Gulf War Syndrome, all of the varied effects of burn pit exposure that aren't at all well-documented, orthopedic injuries galore, and of course sexual assault. Just to name a few.
posted by bile and syntax at 3:16 PM on July 7 [3 favorites]


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