Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel's plan to offer a free education at City Colleges to students who graduate with at least a 3.0 GPA will reportedly cost an estimated $2 million in its first year. Emanuel told reporters earlier this week that the program will also be offered to undocumented immigrant students.
“Ready? Si. Yes. It will. . . . It’s part of an overall strategy. . . . Chicago is gonna be the most immigrant-friendly city. It always has been. We have to understand how important that is to who we are and what we can become,” said Emanuel.
“This summer, we’ve allowed DREAMers to apply for all our summer jobs and for internships in city government," he added. "Just the other day, we said to the undocumented and also to Dreamers, ‘You can get a library card without any other information’ because we don’t want your access to information to be prohibited by an antiquated law.’ So we’ve made sure this was applicable. If you’re a CPS student, you can apply and be part of this.”
The costs associated for the effort breaks down to about $11,000 per student earning a two-year degree, and an estimated 500 to 1,000 additional students are expected enter into the system using the scholarship during the first year. The estimated number of qualified students who will attend is based on an assumption that about one-third of the 3,000 CPS students who have at least a 3.0 GPA will take advantange of the opportunity. Emanuel said if each of the 2,000 students who have at least a 3.0 GPA and don't go to college signed on for the scholarship, the cost would be in the neighborhood of $22 million.
Meanwhile, Hector Reyes, chair of the Harold Washington College Chapter of the American Federation of Teachers Local 1600, told the Sun-Times that he thinks the plan is a ploy to "significantly curtail" the number of City Colleges students that need remedial classes and raise the system's graduation rate. He also fears that the plan will result in the system straying away from its original goal of providing a college education to underserved and first-generation students, thereby making them more susceptible to be recruited by for-profit colleges — which are scrutinized for high-loan default rates and high student loan interest rates.
In other education news, a Southeast Side high school will soon become a selective-enrollment institution. Hancock College Prepartory High School, which is currently a neighorhood school, will start transitioning to selective enrollment in the fall of 2015, with the change happening one grade at a time each academic year. The school's current student population is 95 percent Latino and 97 percent low-income, but those stats are not guaranteed to remain the same once the school becomes selective enrollment.
“We have heard from families in southwest side neighborhoods asking for more access to a selective enrollment program and an enriching (career technical education) program, and we are delivering on that request while continuing to expand high-quality education options for students and families across the city,” Emanuel announced in a press release this week.
Read more about the upcoming Hancock transition and reaction to the news here.