In an attempt to have “equitable graduation standards,” the state of Oregon is doing away with the requirement that high school seniors demonstrate proficiency in reading, writing, and math before graduating.
The subjects of reading, writing, and arithmetic used to be the three foundational pillars of education and have long been considered indispensable for society. An indicator of progress in any culture is the percentage of people who can read and write. Yet in Oregon now, progress is being replaced with supposed equity.
On July 14, Gov. Kate Brown, D, signed into law Senate Bill 744, which removes the requirement that graduating seniors must be able to show they can read, write, and do high-school level math. The bill wasn’t made public until two weeks later. Moreover, there was no signing ceremony or press release, and she has yet to make any comments on the law.
However, when pressed by the Oregonian, Charles Boyle, the governor’s deputy communications director, replied in an email statement that the bill will benefit “Oregon’s Black, Latino, Latina, Latinx, Indigenous, Asian, Pacific Islander, Tribal, and students of color.”
He added, “Leaders from those communities have advocated time and again for equitable graduation standards, along with expanded learning opportunities and supports.”
Democrats overwhelmingly supported the removal of the proficiency standards while Republicans largely opposed.
Hillary Borrud of The Oregonian wrote that much of the criticism centered around standardized testing, but Oregon did not require students to prove their proficiency through standardized testing but had previously “offered workshop-style courses to help students strengthen their skills and create evidence of mastery.
She also noted, “Lawmakers and the governor did not pass any major expansion of learning opportunities or supports for Black, Indigenous and students of color during this year’s legislative session.”
Many on the left continue to assert that educational standards are inequitable, somehow being biased against minority groups. They claim that traditional education models and metrics are skewed in favor of white students and that minority students are unable to perform at the same level. Take, for example, the program funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation that says encouraging students to get the right answer to a math question is racist.
In fact, it is the view that minorities are not able to perform as well as white students that is truly racist. Take Boyle’s comments. Is it not racist to say that minority students are unable to demonstrate that they can read, write, and do math proficiently? Is he saying that they are unable to learn? How patronizing can you get? Clearly, Oregon educational officials believe that minorities need the government to coddle them in order for them to graduate. That is the pinnacle of racism.
And what about the responsibility to the Oregon taxpayer? Taxes ostensibly go towards paying teachers to fully educate students and help them to become productive members of society, yet now students can go through 13 years of schooling without even being adequately taught to read, write, or do basic math?
So much for no child left behind.
Oregon parents who want their children to get a quality education and excel in the real world will now have no choice but to exit the public school system and send their child to private school or homeschool their children themselves — or move out of Oregon.
The American education system is in shambles, and the way to fix it is not to hamstring students and tell minorities they cannot perform as well as white students unless the standards are lowered or eliminated altogether.
Students of all backgrounds should be challenged more, not less. Every child has limitless potential, and to tell children that they cannot and should not succeed is to rob them of the chance to make the most of that potential. That is a moral crime, and Oregon parents need to rise up and demand better.