Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel will now require all Chicago public school students graduating high school to submit proof of acceptance to a government approved post-secondary education in order to graduate.
Emanuel told the audience during his town hall meeting last Wednesday that he has been considering the move since 2011, and that it was important for students to understand the importance of higher education. He also said that in order to be successful in life, students needed to continue their education after high school.
"The workplace today has that requirement. All we’re doing, as a school system, is catching up to the requirements of the workplace," Emanuel said.
Students who are already sophomores and above will be grandfathered in, but students entering the freshman class at all Chicago public schools will have to satisfy the requirement by providing an acceptance letter from one of the following:
- a four-year university
- a community college
- a trade school, apprenticeship, or internship
- a branch of the armed services
Emanuel told the crowd that 62 percent of graduating seniors from CPS are already accepted into either a four-year university or community college. "[O]ur goal is to make sure nobody spikes the ball at 12th grade. We want to make 14th grade universal. That’s the new goal line," he said.
"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,' he added.
CPS Chief Education Officer Dr. Janice K. Jackson said Emanuel's new requirement will not need approval from the Illinois Board of Education.
"As long as we meet the state’s minimum graduation requirements, the district, the Board of Education does have the authority to have requirements on top of that, and as Mayor Emanuel just pointed out, we have several that go above and beyond the state of Illinois’ requirements,” she said.