This blog is written by Nia McFall.

On August 8th students from the Mayoral Youth Commission met with Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Chancellor of Chicago City Colleges Juan Salgado, and Head of the Office of College and Career Services for Chicago Public Schools (CPS) Alan Mather to present the youth perspective on the Mayor’s new CPS graduation requirement called Learn. Plan. Succeed. 

Currently not many CPS students and families are informed about what this new graduation requirement means for their future. Mikva students presented recommendations that included providing parents with a video in multiple languages at open houses across the city in order for them to gather a better understanding. Also Mikva youth proposed that if students were more involved in the development of this plan and were able to give feedback, then more of student’s needs could be heard and met. One of their most important recommendations was to provide students with access to entry level job and trade opportunities through the One Summer Chicago summer application. This provides students with training and skills in a field they are interested in, therefore encouraging them to apply for jobs after high school if they make the decision not to go to college.

Counselors are pertinent to the implementation of this initiative since they are the driving force in providing students with information on post-secondary opportunities. Through conversations with guest speakers, school counsellors and online research, our youth concluded that CPS is currently lacking in providing enough counselor support for students across the board to be successful after high school. Therefore they recommended that CPS should provide counselors with the support they need to make sure that students know the various pathways and opportunities they have after high school.

A major reason why the Mayor is really pushing for this plan is because of his belief that, “You’re more likely to go to college if you’ve gotten a letter, more likely to go to the army if you’ve gotten a letter, more likely to get a job if you’ve gotten a letter…it’s much easier to get on track while still in the CPS system,” he said. During the discussion, students emphasized to the Mayor that every school is at a different place regarding the resources available to them, which is why it is difficult to implement a plan that every school is supposed to follow if not all of them can complete the task in the same capacity.

Juan Salgado wants to continue to build a network between City Colleges and CPS because “[CPS] Schools have to be proactive in getting information out and connecting with us.” Since college can be such an expensive option for families, knowing that city colleges is a more affordable and successful choice would help a plethora of students from across the city to get a college degree. The Mayor’s Youth Commission has put in a great amount of work over this summer for the past 8 weeks to get the ball rolling in helping Mayor Emanuel to work on areas where Learn. Plan. Succeed can improve. They will be working diligently over this next year to ensure the most successful roll out of this plan!

Check out this awesome website for the complete recommendations and summer highlights from the Mayoral Youth Commission!