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Chicago Considers Denying High School Grads Diplomas If They Don’t Have Approved ‘Plan’

Graduating Law School students cheer as they receive their degrees during the 365th Commencement Exercises at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, May 26, 2016. REUTERS/Brian Snyder

Chicago high schools might start denying students a diploma if they don’t prove they have a plan after high school, the city’s mayor announced Wednesday.

A new proposal would force students to provide proof of some kind of plan post-graduation in order to receive a diploma, whether that be a college or job acceptance letter, proof of acceptance into the military, or some other approved path, such as a “gap year” program or acceptance into a trade school, reports The Wall Street Journal.

“The goal here is to no longer have 12th grade be the end of our responsibility,” Chicago Mayor Rahm Emaunuel Wednesday as he announced the proposal. “The economy and business today require a minimum of two years post-high school.”

Illegal immigrant students would be exempted from the requirement, however, as well as students with “life challenges” such as a criminal record, TheWSJ reports. Eligible students would be able to apply for a waiver for an exemption to the rule.

“We want to make sure our kids do not see graduation from high school as the end point, but all of them have a plan and all of them have a specific acceptance on how to go to post-high-school education,” Emanuel said on CNBC.

Emanuel expects the measure to be approved. The Chicago Board of Education will consider the proposal next month. If the board passes it, it will apply to freshman graduating in 2020.

Alderman Scott Waguespack from Chicago’s 32nd ward questioned whether the plan would be helpful for students, especially those who are poorer.

“We all want our CPS kids to have the option to be college bound — but creating more barriers to graduation for kids already struggling with poverty, standardized testing madness and budget cuts at their schools is simply out of touch and wrongheaded,” Waguespack told a Chicago outlet.

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