|Chicago recorded it's 00th homicide over Father's Day weekend. Among those killed was 17-year-old Tiara Viramontes, a student at Marine Leadership Academy.|
After a Chicago weekend with 50 more shootings of mostly young people, eight of them fatal, Rahm Emanuel responded symbolically by laying off 50 more Head Start aides on the eve of the last day of school. Then, pirouetting past the graveyard, the mayor boarded a plane to D.C. where he is set to take the stage at the National Press Club, touting his latest plan to make it more difficult for African-American and Latino students to graduate from ravaged Chicago high schools.
His speech, being billed ironically as “Moving Forward in Chicago,” will detail his plan to require all public high school seniors to provide a college or trade school acceptance letter, proof of military enlistment or a job offer in order to graduate. It's another one of those "reforms" that would be mocked to death if proposed in the rich white suburban schools Rahm attended or in the private school where he sends his own children.
Mainly poor, black and Latino Chicago students students will have to comply with the new mandates without the benefit of the hundreds of counselors and school social workers recently fired by CPS.
The students, having persevered to overcome the devastating instability caused by Rahm's mass school closings, having been forced to shift from school to school, from teachers who know them to teachers who don't, having risked increased street violence just to make it to school every morning, will soon have another major bureaucratic hoop to jump through or risk being denied their earned diploma.
For those who can't afford spiraling college tuition costs or simply don't choose to enter college right now, or for those who through no fault of their own, can't find a job, let alone one that pays a living wage (Rahm opposes a $15/hr. minimum wage), their only choice is the military.
In other words, Rahm's plan could turn CPS into the nation's largest military recruiter. For many, Afghanistan, Iraq or Syria may even seem safer than the streets of the west side or Humboldt Park.
Here's hoping that members of the Press Club will ask the appropriate questions.