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Chicago proposal requires high school students to have post-grad plans

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CHICAGO — For high school students in Chicago, passing all your classes may no longer be enough to graduate.

A new proposal would require students to have a plan ready for after high school — or else they cannot receive their diploma.

The new Chicago Public Schools initiative called “Learn, Plan, Succeed” aims to prepare students for life after high school by requiring them to show an acceptance letter to a university, community college, apprenticeship, trade school, internship or the armed forces.

“A K-12 model was relevant 10, 15, 20 years ago. The city of Chicago is moving toward a pre-K-to-college model,” Mayor Rahm Emanuel said.

It starts with the current freshman class of 2020 and beyond, who won’t be able to graduate without a post-high school plan.

“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,” said Janice Jackson, CPS’ chief education officer.

City officials say Chicago is the first city to formally initiate such a graduation requirement, although some CPS students are already doing something similar.

“It starts with strong plans to begin, and they can see there are options,” said Armando Rogriquez, a Chicago Public Schools principal.

The unveiling of the plan comes as CPS deals with a threatened one-day walkout by the teachers and a major budget gap that may result in the current school year ending three weeks earlier.

The city’s Board of Education will consider the proposal at its upcoming meeting.