I really thought I was going to make it, guys. I thought this would be the week I stayed positive. It wasn’t easy, but I mixed enough irreverence and snark into the darker posts to keep them fun. And I included that one post where I let politicians make me feel feelings. But then Rahm Goddamn Emanuel had to go and do the stupidest fucking thing I’ve ever heard, and I’m all shadows again. Let me just break into my emergency reserve of cynicism and rage.
WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH YOU, RAHM?
OK, now that that’s out of the way. Hizzoner Emanuel has decided he’s going to go ahead with his ridiculous idea that before receiving a high school diploma, students must show proof of being accepted into a college or the military, enrollment in a trade job or “gap year” program, or a job offer. Rahm has been pushing for this policy since April, but it was just approved in late May and is currently being put into effect for incoming sophomores. And I’m not sure where to begin with the stupid.
Part of the issue is how blatantly this attempts to solve a problem by curing the symptom. Kids need more than a high school diploma to succeed in the world? That sounds like a pretty complex issue. We need to address issues within the job market that require a four-year degree from everyone. Or we need to revamp our education system so that high school graduates are better trained to join the workforce, and to eliminate unnecessary course work from college degrees so they can be completed more quickly. We should probably also talk about expanding community college programs and trade schools. And it wouldn’t be a horrible idea to resurrect apprentice-type training for more careers. I don’t like the idea of for-profit colleges, but I’d be very into a specific business teaching me exactly what I need to know to get a job there. These are all viable options. What is not a viable option is telling a kid, “Fuck you. Get a job.”
And to be very clear, I’m not opposed to that method just because it’s cruel, but because it doesn’t work. Everyone knows that they should have a job. People feel better when they have jobs that they feel are important and they are good at. So they’re essentially dangling the piece of paper as motivation to convince people to engage in activities that are personally fulfilling and financially enriching? That’s like telling a small child, “You can’t have any carrot sticks until you’ve eaten your pizza.”
Speaking of small children, this isn’t how you deal with them, Mr. Mayor. I don’t have children myself, but I have enough experience to know that merely insisting a kid behave in a certain way doesn’t work. If a five-year-old is crying, just telling her to stop isn’t going to fix it. You have to figure out what’s causing the crying. Is she hungry? Is she tired? Did she get into (another) fight with her sister? Does she need to go outside and play? You can’t fix the problem if you don’t identify the underlying cause. The same is true for high school graduates. I’ve never met a person who didn’t have viable employment or education options who wasn’t eager to engage in them. This isn’t motivating graduates to reach their potential; it’s crippling already disadvantaged young adults.
By the way, a contributing factor to that disadvantage might be the fact that our current mayor has been gutting the school system since he stepped into office. Maybe part of the reason CPS graduates are having a hard time enrolling in college is that the guidance counselor who is supposed to be helping them has 399 other students to help. All of which is side-stepped by the Mayor’s response that all CPS graduates are automatically accepted into the city’s community college system.
SO NOT ONLY IS THIS THE STUPIDEST, MOST UNINTENTIONALLY DESTRUCTIVE THING YOU’LL HEAR ALL WEEK, IT’S ALSO COMPLETELY INEFFECTIVE BECAUSE LITERALLY EVERY HIGH SCHOOL GRADUATE IN THE CITY CAN GET A COLLEGE ACCEPTANCE LETTER.
Goddamnit, Rahm. That’s so fucking stupid.