(TruthAndLiberty.com) – In Oregon, high school students will no longer be required to exhibit basic skills in reading, writing, or math to graduate, at least for the next five years. This decision has been made by educational authorities who argue that these requirements are not only unnecessary but also disproportionately disadvantage students of color.
This move has sparked a significant debate. Christine Drazan, a one-time contender for the Oregon governor’s seat, warned that the value of a high school diploma could be severely undermined, becoming more of a “participation award” than a certificate of competence. The temporary suspension of this skills requirement had originally started during the pandemic, and last week, the Oregon State Board of Education extended the suspension until the 2027-2028 academic year.
Before this change, 11th-grade students had to pass standardized tests or provide work samples in critical subjects. Those who failed had to enroll in supplementary math and writing courses during their senior year, missing out on elective courses as a result. Critics, however, argue that these standards have created unequal educational outcomes, particularly affecting students of color, those with disabilities, and English-as-a-second-language learners.
The decision has not gone without public outcry, with many people, led by advocacy groups, demanding that the standards be reinstated. Board Chair Guadalupe Martinez Zapata, however, labeled the opposition as a “disinformation campaign,” accusing critics of perpetuating bigotry and narrow viewpoints.
According to Christine Drazan, this move is symptomatic of a broader trend where Oregon is watering down educational standards, including considering replacing traditional grading scales. She urged parents to take their concerns to the governor’s office, calling for the board to be more attuned to the needs and concerns of families and stakeholders.
At the heart of this issue is Oregon’s educational standing: despite having some of the strictest credit requirements, the state’s graduation rate is among the lowest in the U.S. Whether this latest move will address existing inequalities or further compromise educational standards remains to be seen.
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