In the state of Oregon, high school students will no longer need to display basic comprehension of reading, math, or writing in order to graduate, with state officials claiming that such a change is necessary to guarantee higher graduation rates for minority students.
As reported by Fox News, the pause on such basic graduation requirements had first been implemented during the Chinese Coronavirus pandemic. But last week, the Oregon State Board of Education voted unanimously to extend the requirement suspension at least until the end of the 2027-2028 school year.
Prior to the new policy, juniors in high school, also known as 11th graders, had to show competence in basic subjects through either work samples or standardized test results. Any students who failed such requirements would be required to take an extra math class and extra writing class in their senior years in order to graduate.
The state board justified its decision by claiming that such requirements disproportionately affect minority students, as well as disabled students and foreign students who have English as a second language.
A campaign against the board’s decision was organized by former gubernatorial nominee Christine Drazan (R-Ore.), through her advocacy group A New Direction Oregon. In a statement following the board’s decision, Drazan said that “at some point…our diploma is going to end up looking a lot more like a participation prize than an actual certificate that shows that someone actually is prepared to go pursue their best future.”
In response to Drazan’s efforts, Board Chair Guadalupe Martinez Zapata dismissed criticism of the new policy as a “campaign of misinformation” and “artistic quality mental acrobatics,” while also accusing Drazan and her supporters of “bigotry.”
“If only they weren’t automatically discredited by the myopic analysis and bigotry that follows them,” Zapata said during a meeting in September, adding that “rhetoric about cultural and social norms being the underlying reason for underperformance on assessments by systemically marginalized students” is somehow similar to “racial superiority arguments.”
“It is not bigoted, it is not racist to want your student to be able to actually learn,” Drazan said in response.