Ohio policy makers just dismantled the high school graduation requirements for the class of 2018. This retreat harks back to the days of social promotion and state-sanctioned low expectations and should prompt some soul-searching as to what exactly we think young people need to be prepared for life after high school.
I’m all for high standards that are taken seriously by all concerned and that have real-world consequences. The point, after all, is to boost achievement, cause more learning by more young people, cause diplomas to mean something, and ensure that many more of our future citizens will be up to the challenges ahead.
But it’s also possible to demand too much. Witness the Chicago Public Schools: in addition to meeting basic high school graduation requirements like earning 24 credit hours in core subject areas and completing additional obligations such as service learning and consumer education, a new proposal requires high school students in the Windy City to prove that they have a “post-graduation plan” that includes a job or acceptance into the military, college, or a trade program.
Ohio’s plan is akin to providing high school graduates with flotation devices. Who cares if they...