Emanuel wants to add a Chicago Public Schools graduation requirement: Get acceptance letter

Mayor Rahm Emanuel said he wants to require Chicago public school students to get letters of acceptance from a two- or four-year college, a branch of the armed forces or a trade program in order to graduate from high school, he announced Wednesday.

Appearing on “CBS This Morning” on WBBM Ch. 2, Emanuel framed the new initiative as his latest move to get kids thinking early about continuing their learning beyond high school. But he also said it would be compulsory. “You won’t be able to graduate … unless you show that letter of acceptance to any one of the four outlets we talked about: college, community college, armed services or a trade,” Emanuel said while speaking about the program on the morning news show.

It isn’t yet clear how Chicago Public Schools would enforce such a rule, given that high school students are not required under the law to enroll in one of those organizations to graduate.

The mayor said he wants to get kids all over the city to assume high school won’t be the end of their training, a point he often makes. “Just like you do with your children, college, post-high school, that is what’s expected,” Emanuel said. “If you change expectations, it’s not hard for kids to adapt.”

Appearing Tuesday night at a Chicago Sun-Times editorial board event, the mayor also spoke about making the letters of acceptance something public high schoolers will need to have to get their diplomas. The mayor’s office said the new requirement would start with the class of 2020.

“Starting with the freshman class, right now in high school in Chicago, by the time they come to graduation they’ll have — basically think of it this way — you want to make 14th grade, not high school … universal in people’s educational program,” he said. “And what I mean by that is if you graduate you’ll have to have a letter of acceptance from a college, a letter of acceptance from a community college or a letter of acceptance from the armed services or a letter of acceptance from a trade, carpenter or electrician.”



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