New Oregon law lets students graduate without showing they can write and do math

Oregon Governor Kate Brown (D) quietly signed a bill last month removing proficiency requirements in math and writing for high school students to graduate in the state. 

No public signing was held, and Brown did not hold a press release to announce the bill’s passage and adoption. It makes one wonder whether Brown and the legislature were trying to hide something from parents in the state.

In fact, the bill was passed on July 14, and was not added to the legislative database until July 29. Were the state’s Democrats trying to avoid a public outcry over the bill?

Secretary of the Senate Lori Brocker claimed that the staffer tasked with adding the legislation to the database was out of the office on a medical issue for the two weeks in question.

No Republican outcry over bill

But even more important than Democrats hiding the bill, where were Republicans while all this was going on? Didn’t they think about drawing attention to this undoubtedly unpopular move?

Brown said through a spokesperson that part of the reasoning for the bill was to give students a chance to regroup after school shutdowns during COVID-19.

“SB 744 gives us an opportunity to review our graduation requirements and make sure our assessments can truly assess all students’ learning,” Charles Boyle, a spokesman for the governor, said about the bill. “In the meantime, it gives Oregon students and the education community a chance to regroup after a year and a half of disruption caused by the pandemic.”

While national test scores show that students did lose ground during COVID lockdowns and extended school closures in some places, loosening requirements tied to testing allows teachers and schools to escape any accountability for keeping schools closed longer than they really had to.

Accountability needed

If a similar situation occurs in the future, schools and communities need to know how harmful lockdowns are and consider the harm to students when making decisions about whether to shut down.

In order for that to happen, there must be accountability and awareness, which this bill is attempting to shut down.

Teachers’ unions made the pandemic lockdowns all about them and their safety, when they should have been focused on their students and done everything they could to serve them.

The selfishness they displayed hurt kids all over the country, when if the unions would have looked at the science of the pandemic, they might have made different decisions.

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