Oregon Governor Kate Brown quietly signed a bill last month that removed the requirement for graduating high school children in the state to be proficient in reading, writing, and math, in an effort to aid “students of color.”
Brown signed Senate Bill 744 on July 14, but did not issue a press release or hold a ceremony to mark the occasion, instead opting to pass the bill into law as quietly as possible, according to the Oregonian. The bill also wasn’t entered into a legislative database until two weeks after its signing – an abnormality, as bills are typically entered on the same day.
Though Brown was quiet about the bill, the governor’s deputy communications director, Charles Boyle, told the Oregonian that suspending the reading, writing, and math proficiency requirements would benefit “students of color” while the state comes up with a new set of “equitable” graduation standards.
Until then, the suspension will apparently help those who are “Black, Latino, Latina, Latinx, Indigenous, Asian, Pacific Islander, [or] Tribal.”
Boyle said that “leaders from those communities have advocated time and again for equitable graduation standards, along with expanded learning opportunities and supports.” However, lawmakers reportedly have not passed any actual concrete support this year to help those groups.
Any new graduation requirements that do pass will reportedly not take effect until 2027, meaning five years of classes could graduate without needing to demonstrate proficiency in three basic areas.
Oregon Republicans attempted to push back against the bill, with Oregon House Minority Leader Christine Drazan arguing that it would “lower our expectations for our kids” at a time when “we have had this year of social isolation and lost learning” due to Covid-19. They were unsuccessful, however, as the Democrat-controlled legislature overwhelmingly supported the move.
Florida Republican congressional candidate Vic DeGrammont called the bill “insane,” while Oregon’s Senate Republicans wrote, “This was perhaps the worst bill that passed this session and Democrats can’t come up with a good reason for it.”
Politician and commentator Barrington Martin II – who has been a Democratic Party candidate in several Georgia elections – said that while the bill was aimed at giving “struggling races a shot,” all it does is set them up for failure. “The road to hell is indeed paved with good intentions,” he wrote.