Charter Schools to Teachers Who Don’t Abuse: Oregon Lawmakers Face Multiple Education Bills

The Oregon Senate and House committees are considering a number of measures relating to education in regard to new graduation requirements, regulations for colleges and universities, efforts promoting racial justice, limits on virtual charter schools, and updates to laws about state assessments and educators.  

Some bills of the bills proposed particularly stand out. 

High School Graduation Requirements – HB 2299 

One of the categories of proposed new education measures is to change high school graduation requirements. One of the main topics in this area is that state’s civics requirements, something that Rep. Paul Evans, D-Monmouth, has been pushing for several years. 

Other notable bills would require seniors in high school to finish a program on home ownership, and one removes the requirement for students to pass the state’s Essential Learning Skills for a diploma.  

Higher Education Regulations – SB 1 

Many bills in this category – SB 230, HB 2346, HB 2349, HB 2542, HB 2835, and HB 2902 – focus on allowing the merger of community college and public university offerings, making the conversation about fees more accessible. This includes bills that introduce tuition and fee waivers for adopted children who were formerly in the foster care system and are studying for their first undergraduate degree. These bills also require higher education to permanently display fees charged and to hire someone to help students apply for financial aid.   

Racial Justice Efforts 

Some of the bills – SB 227, SB 617, SB 683, HB 2052, SB 553, HB 2496, HB 2569, and HB 2697 – concern racial justice and are looking at providing more education about racial issues and making studies more accessible. Among these, one measure would require Oregon to educate about its racist history, and one would establish the Dreamers Access Program to award loans to eligible students. 

Other bills would not allow district school boards or superintendents to approve a contract allowing law enforcement agents being assigned to a school, define requirements regarding performance reports, including data about suspensions and expulsions, and require that school districts allow Indigenous people to wear items of cultural significance to public school events.  

Virtual Charter School Limits 

Previously, there had been a cap how many students could enroll in an online charter school that was not hosted by a school in their district. Bills in this area propose raising the cap, removing it, and not allowing students to enroll in any virtual charter school district other than their home district. There are a total of 20 bills surrounding this issue facing the legislators. 

Updates to Statewide Assessments, Educator Laws 

This session covers many things, from substitute teacher pay (SB 311) to allowing an opt out option for standardized state tests (SB 678). 

There is also a bill that would prohibit the issuing of a teaching license to anyone convicted of a crime constituting domestic abuse (HB 2135).  

For more information, or to see the bills in detail, visit https://olis.oregonlegislature.gov/. 

By: Hannah Ramsey