College of DuPage's student newspaper | Est. 1967

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COLUMN: Emanuel’s new plan for CPS potentially withholds students high school diplomas

Kitt Fresa, News Editor

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Mayor Rahm Emanuel has proposed a law for Chicago Public School students to have more of a plan after high school by leveraging them with their own high school diplomas. With this new law students would be required to provide a letter of acceptance from either a college, the military, trade school or “gap year” program in order to receive their high school diploma. Students who have jobs or will soon have jobs also qualify to receive their diplomas.

The idea behind this law is to get students more focused about their futures and their well beings later on in life. Essentially, plan ahead now so when high school ends, it isn’t the end of education for the student. However it feels that this unorthodox plan Emmanuel has come up with will only add to the long list of notorious pressures high school has to offer. Graduation rates for CPS high school students have been abysmally low, 73 percent was the rate last year. So is now really the time to implement a law that piles even more on top of students?

This proposed plan isn’t just another thing students have to finish, it’s also a little pointless. If you’re a CPS graduate right now, you already qualify for Emmanuels new plan. Graduating as a CPS student automatically admits you into the City Colleges of Chicago community college system. Which means all CPS students who are graduating now, are already accepted into college and qualify for Emmanuels new plan. The consequences of this law could make this option the only lifeline for hopeful graduates. Undecided students who want to take a year off might be forced into something they aren’t willing to go into, and at a cost.

However the largest question to this law really stands out as, is this even legal? Does the Mayor have the power to force CPS students to choose a path regardless of what the student really wants? From what has been said so far the answer is sounding like yes, he does. Right now the Chicago Board of Education is mainly Emmanuel-controlled so the law might even pass as well.

However no matter how good of an idea Emmanuel thinks he has, these are rights he has no business changing. If a student wants to graduate high school and just live at home and take a year off, that should be their right. Nobody has any business changing that. Forcing high school students, let alone anybody into something they may not want goes against the founding views of America.

It might sound overly American to say it, but after high school you should be able to do whatever the hell you want, and whenever you want to. If you want to go live your life as a bum on the streets, well that’s your right as an American to do so. If you want to work hard in life and go far, that’s your right too. Implementing a law to force students won’t change anything, if students want to go out and work hard, they will.

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College of DuPage's student newspaper | Est. 1967
COLUMN: Emanuel’s new plan for CPS potentially withholds students high school diplomas