Recess Blog

Alumna Responds to Mayor's Plans

By Rob Schroeder
May 3, 2017

In March 2017, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel proposed new requirements for Chicago high schoolers to meet to graduate, stipulating all graduating seniors obtain a letter of acceptance from a two- or four-year university, the military, a trade or a gap-year program.

For MEd Language, Literacies and Learning alumna Gina Caneva, most of the high school juniors and seniors she has worked with have met this requirement, but only because their school was staffed with dedicated support personnel to guide students along the path to post-school options.  She writes in the Chicago Sun-Times:

Six years ago, I worked closely with seniors at TEAM Englewood. Impressively, 98 percent of our student body of 75 had been accepted to a two- or four-year college. To achieve that number took legwork that, unfortunately, Mayor Emanuel has not proposed thus far.

At Englewood, we had a dedicated counselor and a class that gave students time every day with that counselor and a teacher to work on applications and scholarships. Emanuel has proposed only extra training for existing counselors who help students suffering from social and emotional issues, poverty-related setbacks, and learning disabilities. Imagine how many extra counselors we would need to help students all over the district.

Despite the success of our 98 percent acceptance rate, after a summer away from high school, only about 60 percent of the accepted seniors actually went to college. This difference between acceptance and enrollment is normal for many school districts in our nation. The Tribune recently praised Urban Prep Academy for its annual announcement of 100 percent college acceptance, yet according to the University of Chicago’s To-and-Through data, in 2015, only 56 percent of the graduates from their Englewood campus were enrolled in a college or university...

Emanuel and supporters of his “Learn. Plan. Succeed.” requirement assume that students having a plan will garner success. Instead, CPS needs to connect high schools to college and universities.  Just as many high schools provide summer bridge programs to elementary schools, community colleges and in-state universities can do the same and enroll students closer to graduation rather than allow Chicago’s summer streets to take hold of our seniors.

Read the full op-ed at the Sun-Times website.

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