Chicago Mayor Moves To Strip Diplomas From High Schoolers Without Post-Grad Action Plans

Post-graduate life can be a scary thing for high schoolers. Graduation, however, temporarily halts those thoughts of diving head-first into adulthood, allowing the students to celebrate how far they’ve come in their academic careers. That is, except for high school grads in Chicago, who may have a new kind of stress to worry about.

The city’s Mayor Rahm Emanuel is reportedly pushing a new mandate that requires high school seniors to have solid plans after matriculation, or their diplomas will be withheld. The forceful tactic (and the first of its kind in America) demands that students have proof of college, job or apprenticeship acceptance. If none of those apply, students can either join a “gap year” program or enroll in the military. The mandate is set to take effect in 2020.

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While well intentioned, response to the new mandate has been critical, having been already called an “empty gesture.”

“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?” Karen Lewis, president of the Chicago Teachers Union, told the Washington Post. “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.”