Recently, Mayor Emanuel of Chicago announced that he would like to impose some new requirements to graduate high school. According to the Chicago Tribune:
Mayor Rahm Emanuel wants Chicago public high school students to show they have a plan for what’s next before they can get a diploma.
Emanuel’s proposal would add one more big item to the graduation checklist for high school seniors: proof they’ve been accepted into college or the military, or a trade or a “gap-year” program. The requirement would also be satisfied if the student has a job or a job offer.
Mayor Emanuel stated, “The workplace today has that requirement. All we’re doing, as a school system, is catching up to the requirements of the workplace. We need, at the public side, to help all our kids – regardless of their zip code, regardless of their background, regardless of what their family situation is – that expectation and support is provided to help kids go post-high school.”
I don’t know if this will be ruled illegal, but I think the mayor is making a serious attempt to help struggling youth find the motivation they need to get ahead – motivation they might not get from home. It’s creative thinking. It’s needed. The minority youth in Chicago are falling further behind their peers. I have not heard much in the way of suggestions from the minority leaders except to continue to lower the educational bar. In The Color Of Character I tell the story of the dismal results of this approach back in 1970, as educators walked on egg shells to keep from putting pressure on minority students.
Not So Fast
So what has been the response from the minority community? A great big “How dare he?” Please read this article by Dennis Byrne in www.realclearpolitics.com. Apparently minority leaders feel that it is too much to ask minority youth to make an effort to pull themselves up, because of the difficult conditions under which they live, and the omnipresent racism they will continually face. Their alternative would to be to try something else that puts no responsibility on the city’s youth. The lesson for them is don’t even try because you are set up to fail.
To me that is a guaranteed path to nowhere but down.