Oregon Governor Kate Brown (D) signed a bill last month suspending proficiency requirements for high school graduates for the next five years.
Brown quietly signed into a law a bill suspending her state’s proficiency requirements on July 14. Oregon is expected to go without proficiency standards for high school graduates until new rules are crafted and implemented in 2024. Those new rules will likely not apply to high school graduates until 2027; however, as Oregon education officials are reluctant to change standards for students that have already entered high school, according to The Oregonian.
The governor’s office did not announce her signing of the bill in a signing ceremony nor in a press release. The signed bill did not appear in the legislative database as signed until July 29, an uncommon occurrence for a bill that was signed over two weeks prior. A spokesman for the governor said that suspending proficiency requirements would aid the state’s minority students.
“Oregon’s Black, Latino, Latina, Latinx, Indigenous, Asian, Pacific Islander, Tribal, and students of color” stand to benefit from the legislation, Brown’s deputy communications director Charles Boyle told The Oregonian in a statement. “Leaders from those communities have advocated time and again for equitable graduation standards, along with expanded learning opportunities and supports.”
Oregon’s proficiency requirements mandate that all high school graduates demonstrate a roughly 10th grade level competence in reading, writing, and math. Those standards were first suspended last year amid the COVID-19 pandemic as students were taken out of classrooms and school was moved almost entirely online.
The bill passed through the legislature largely on partisan lines, with Democrats supporting suspending graduation standards and Republicans arguing against it.
The Oregon education system has recently increased efforts to fight “racism” within Oregon high schools and education standards. In February, the Oregon Department of Education sent out a guide to educators that claimed that asking students to show their work is an example of “white supremacy.”
“White supremacy culture infiltrates math classrooms in everyday teacher actions,” the guide said. “Coupled with the beliefs that underlie these actions, they perpetuate educational harm on Black, Latinx, and multilingual students, denying them full access to the world of mathematics.”
The guide claimed that respect for the written word is a hallmark of white supremacy. The guide also claimed that asking students to show their work is a “crutch” teachers use to avoid understanding how their students are thinking.
The guide also warned educators against marking answers as “right and wrong” in subjects such as mathematics, saying that such claims of objectivity are white supremacist.
“The concept of mathematics being purely objective is unequivocally false, and teaching it is even much less so,” the guide reads. “Upholding the idea that there are always right and wrong answers perpetuate objectivity.”