High school graduation is an exciting time for Students but a new graduation requirement in Chicago may make it that much harder for students to obtain their High School diploma. Students hoping to graduate must show proof of a job, college acceptance, or that they have enlisted in the military.

Students must have a 'plan'

A controversial new program is requiring that all students graduating from a Chicago Public School have a plan for their future. Acceptable plans include taking on an apprenticeship to learn a trade, getting a full-time job, enlisting in the United States Military, being accepted to a college or university, or acceptance into a gap year program.This new requirement will become active in the year 2020 at which point students will be expected to show proof of their plan if they hope to receive their diploma.

This new program called Learn. Plan. Succeed. is aimed at getting kids to start thinking about life after high school sooner. At the moment, Chicago has a high school graduation rate of 73% but only 18% of students enroll in a bachelor's degree program within ten years of starting high school according to a 2016 study conducted by the University of Chicago Consortium on School Research. This plan will involve straying from the traditional K-12 model to a pre-K through 12 model. It will also require an additional $1 million in order to hire 8 new college and career coaches.

The new program is getting mixed reviews

Although many applaud this program for encouraging students to think into the years beyond high school, many also believe it is being too harsh on the students.

The president of the Chicago Teachers Union, Karen Lewis, has been very vocal about her concern over Learn. Plan. Succeed. She believes that this new program will increase the burden on guidance counselors and make an already stressful job that much more difficult for people. Additionally, she believes that it places unfair expectations on the children.

Under this new program, 17 and 18-year-olds will be expected to know what they want to do with their lives, a hard decision to expect someone that young to make.

Janice Jackson the chief education officer for the Chicago Public Schools has tried to put many of people's concerns to rest. She acknowledged Chicago's diverse population made up of people from many different backgrounds. She said that there are 'extenuating circumstances' in which this requirement can be waived but did not mention what qualified.