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Chicago's new high school initiative sends strong message: no plan, no diploma

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For Chicago public high school students getting good grades and maintaining attendance is not the only thing they have to worry about in order to graduate. Under Chicago's new initiative called"Lean.Plan.Succeed" students must show school officials proof of their post-graduate plan in order to graduate.

Students are required to present a letter of acceptance from a college,university, trade program,arm services program or a job offer letter. Chicago will be the first city to implement this policy,Mayor Rahm Emmanuel first introduced this new requirement in April.

"High school graduation is a milestone, not a destination,” said Mayor Emanuel in a statement. “Ensuring every student has a plan for success after high school is the right thing to do for our students’ futures, and the right thing to do for Chicago’s future.”

The Chicago Board of Education approved the initiative in May, The mayor's office announced that the new requirement will start with the class of 2020.

"The idea that you are going to actually have a post-high school educational plan and all of a sudden we're putting a burden on our kids' backs -- I guarantee you the kids in Chicago will be better prepared for the future than any other child. Every other school system today leaves it to chance,"Mayor Rahm Emanuel said at a National Press Club.

His new school initiative comes nearly two years after the Chicago school system laid of nearly 500 teachers and more than 1,000 support staff. Some do not think this requirement is a good idea.

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Janice Jackson, chief education officer for the public schools, said the new requirement will not create more of a workload of guidance counselors and the city is currently raising more to hire more school staff to support this initiative.

"Learn. Plan. Succeed. is the next step in our overarching mission of preparing students for a rewarding and impactful life,” said Jackson. “We all need to change how we think about what it means to be a high school graduate – a diploma alone isn’t enough anymore."

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