Oregon removes reading, writing, math requirements for high school graduation

AP Photo/Gillian Flaccus, File

The Governor of Oregon has signed a bill into law that removes all requirements for high school students to demonstrate their proficiency in reading, writing, and math. We’ll get to the supposed “reasoning” behind this legislation in a moment, but it’s first worth mentioning the timing. As the Oregonian found out, this law has actually been in place for a while now. Governor Kate Brown signed the bill back on July 14th, but nobody knew about it until this past week. The reason for that is that the Governor didn’t hold a signing ceremony, there was no press release about it and the bill wasn’t entered into the legislative database until July 29th. At that point, journalists finally noticed it began writing about it.

For the next five years, an Oregon high school diploma will be no guarantee that the student who earned it can read, write or do math at a high school level.

Gov. Kate Brown had demurred earlier this summer regarding whether she supported the plan passed by the Legislature to drop the requirement that students demonstrate they have achieved those essential skills. But on July 14, the governor signed Senate Bill 744 into law.

Through a spokesperson, the governor declined again Friday to comment on the law and why she supported suspending the proficiency requirements.

Under what circumstances would the state legislature pass a law and the governor sign it without trumpeting their accomplishment to the public? And why did it take so long to enter it into the public database? We don’t know the Governor’s reasoning because when asked about it, she declined to comment.

As to the delay in updating the database, there was at least an answer provided to the media. The secretary of the state Senate’s office said that a key staffer who is responsible for dealing with the Governor’s office and updating the legislative database “was experiencing medical issues” during the fifteen days of silence about this bill. But that answer doesn’t hold water either because several bills were signed on July 19th and entered into the database the same day.

What are these people trying to hide? Is it possible that they’re ashamed of what they’ve done and were hoping the public wouldn’t notice? Given the nature of what they’ve done, that’s at least a reasonable guess.

As to the reason for dropping all of these critical standards, it’s based on allegations of racism, of course. The governor’s deputy communications director said that dropping the requirements “will benefit Oregon’s Black, Latino, Latina, Latinx, Indigenous, Asian, Pacific Islander, Tribal, and students of color.”

We’ve seen this in so many liberal school systems by this point that it’s almost becoming routine. They weren’t getting enough minority students who were able to pass the proficiency exams. So rather than putting in the work to bring those students up to speed, they simply dropped the requirement for everyone, essentially turning their diplomas into participation trophies. It’s hard enough to get the more successful students accepted into universities as it is. How well will those students do when the college acceptance offices can’t even verify that they can read or do sophomore-level math?

We learned back in May that voters in five western Oregon counties voted to leave the state and become part of Idaho. Perhaps they should accelerate those efforts and invite more parents from the coastal part of the state to join them.