Miles Kampf-Lassin writes in The Chicago Reader that Rahm Emanuel’s plan to deny high school diplomas to students who don’t have a definite commitment from a college, the military, or a trade school is a farce.

He writes:

On its face, this may seem like just the kind of bold, innovative, and results-driven solution Emanuel has often said is needed to address the city’s pressing problems. But viewed within the context of a school system struggling to stay afloat, in reality it comes off as more of a Swiftian proposal that threatens the very students it’s aimed at serving.

Emanuel and CPS are calling the proposal “Learn. Plan. Succeed.” They tout it as way to get students to focus on their continued education post-high school. “If you change expectations, it’s not hard for kids to adapt,” the mayor said at a press conference Wednesday morning.

What Emanuel left out was that it’s a bit more difficult to adapt when your school is chronically underfunded and under-resourced, as is the case for the more than half of CPS students who live in predominantly African-American and Latino neighborhoods on the south and west sides. This disparity has helped create a massive, 37-point gap in student achievement between black and white students in the city’s public schools.

Nowhere in the new initiate is there a plan to tackle this disparity, or to increase funding for crumbling schools—many of which are in such decrepit shape that principals complain about rat infestations while teachers are forced to buy basic supplies such as text books, pencils, and toilet paper.

And if their schools being mired in poverty isn’t enough motivation for students, there’s also the fact that CPS is now threatening to cut the school year short by three weeks. This follows a continued increase in furlough days in 2016-2017.

For all of the mayor’s self-praise for extending the amount of time students spend in the classroom, he never followed through on adequately funding the added time, which contributed to the growing budget crisis facing CPS. Now the system could be on the brink of taking a huge step backwards by cutting the school year nearly a month short….

While the mayor claims this will serve as motivation, it could also easily drive up drop-out rates by students who don’t have the support system they require to plan for secondary education while still in high school. CPS already has already seen a rise in layoffs of counselors due to budget cuts. Why stay in school if you might not even get a diploma upon graduating anyway?…

The plan is all but sure to be approved by the mayor’s hand picked board, another reason it’s a good idea to push for an elected school board.

But if the mayor really wants to help students succeed, he’d drop this initiative in favor of one that actually strengthens the city’s public schools. That’s something teachers, parents and students could all get behind.