Education Law Without Needing Education
Oregon’s governor recently signed legislation that allows high school students to graduate without proving they can read, write, or do math. Oregon Senate Bill 744 (pdf) states that students “may not be required to show proficiency in Essential Learning Skills as a condition of receiving a high school diploma” in the next three school years.
“This 2021 Act being necessary for the immediate preservation of the public peace, health and safety, an emergency is declared to exist, and this 2021 Act takes effect on its passage,” it states. The Oregon House approved the bill 38–18 in June, followed by the state Senate in a 16–13 vote. Oregon Gov. Kate Brown, a Democrat, signed the bill into law last month
The bill suspends the reading, writing, and math requirements while a review of the education system is conducted. The Oregon Department of Education is guided to evaluate, in part, high school diploma requirements in other states. Officials also must identify “the causes of disparities that have resulted from the requirements for high school diplomas in this state” and “whether the requirements for high school diplomas in this state have been applied inequitably to different student populations.”
Meanwhile in NC where you still have to know reading, writing, and arithmetic, 12-year old Mike Wimmer will not only finish high school as valedictorian of his class, he will also graduate from college with a 4.0 GPA. The self-taught robotics whiz and longtime MENSA member has been dabbling in computer programming since he was just five years old. While excelling at both Concord Academy and Rowan-Cabarrus Community College, Mike also founded two tech startups: Next Era Innovations and Reflect Social. He is currently the only minor working for the Department of Defense’s United States Special Operations Command.
In the law, to remove the basic standard or threshold under which to operate would undermine the entire function of how to conduct one’s self in respect to others and their property. That is the core of the law – how do I act around others and their stuff. Not overly complicated, until people have to write a law for every situation, because people can’t behave.
Education and the Law have a lot in common. Neither are designed to be easy. Neither are designed for everyone to succeed. Neither are designed to be fun. They are work, take effort, and take time to understand. When you remove the 3 R’s of education, it is like remove the 10 Commandments from the law. You leave the system without a foundation to build upon – You have to build upon the Rock and not the shifting sand.