« Ecclesiastes: 3: 1-8 (Turn! Turn! Turn!) | Main | Ecclesiastes 3:1 »

Dept. of Truly Terrible Ideas

OK, this makes me really angry: Chicago Mayor Touts New Requirement to Graduate: Proof of a Plan.

Chicago Public School students who want to graduate will have to show proof that they have a plan after high school—such as providing an offer letter for a job or acceptance into college or military service, under a plan expected to be approved next month.

The best-case scenario is that they will not actually hold anyone's diploma, waiving the 'requirement' for any kid that should graduate. The exception listed in Tawnell D. Hobbs' article I linked to above already include “acceptance letters for a job program; a trade or apprenticeship program; or a ‘gap-year' program, which could include travel, volunteer work or research before resuming the academic career.” He also notes that exemptions would be available for undocumented students, or students with criminal records that keep them out of work, or other “life challenges”. In other words, anyone they want to exempt will be exempt, but the teachers, guidance counsellors and principals will have to file a bunch of useless paperwork. If they really exempt everybody from this so-called requirement, then it's just a stupid and inconvenient waste of time and money. That's the best-case scenario.

The other option is that they will realio trulio make the schools pick a handful of troublemakers and refuse to grant them the diploma they earned. Anyone with connections, or money, or helpful family members (willing and able, f'r'ex, to hire a nephew for a month or so) or the ability to muster a fanbase willing to shame the school in public will of course get a waiver. Then, once you have identified the most vulnerable, worst-off, least-privileged kids in Chicago who would at least have earned a high-school diploma, you just flat-out refuse to give it to them. Hey, pregnant teen with father long dead and mother with a criminal record—why bother showing up and finishing the requirements for your diploma? We're not going to give it to you anyway!

And then, on top of everything else, this is going to wind up encouraging a bunch of teenagers who shouldn't be in college to sign up for courses they don't need, won't pass and can't pay for. Yeesh.

Tolerabimus quod tolerare debemus,
-Vardibidian.

Comments

Despite it's apparent busy-work artificiality, Emmanuel's requirement could lead a handful of students to think about, of all things, planning for the future. There is some correlation between socio-economics and how we view the future, a seven-day horizon vs. a seven-year horizon.

Let's say the teachers who would "teach to the test" and thereby reinforced the advice of wise parents, wise aunts & uncles and wise grandparents. If these teachers reached, conservatively, 5% if the students, who would complain?

My wife, may she rest in peace, collected community service forms from college-bound students, and less well-off kids can benefit from this similar practice. Ecclesiastes tells us "What is crooked cannot be straightened, what is lacking cannot be counted." No argument, but a 5% increase in decent planners from Chicago seems like a worthwhile goal. Expectations shaped by Ecclesiastes don't have to be totally nihilistic.

I am forced to admit the deficiencies in higher education. And I lament the fact that the bachelor's degree has simply eclipsed the h.s. diploma as the least amount education that will do. But as an old white guy, I don't feel it's appropriate for me to urge a "structural deficiency" on a young person of color.


Post a comment

Please join in. Comments on older posts will be held for moderation. Don't be a jerk. Eat fruit.