Oregon Senate Votes: Civics a Must to Graduate

This Wednesday, the Oregon Senate approved a bill that would require high school students to pass one civics class to graduate from a public high school, but failed to define what “civics” meant.  

Supporters of the bill say that civics is how the government works, and hope that the requirement will help citizens be more informed.  

To take effect, the bill would need to be approved by the Oregon House and then signed into law by Gov. Kate Brown. Then, the requirement would apply to high school students graduating in 2026 or after. 

The current graduation requirements for the state include three math credits and four English credits, as well as others required by the Oregon Department of Education. Three “social sciences” credits are among those included by the ODE. Corvallis School District’s requirements do not differ from the statewide requirements.  

In opposition to the bill, the union that represents most of the state’s public school teachers said that civics was already included in the curriculum because of the social sciences requirement. “Students will be best served by multiple years’ worth of interaction with this subject matter, rather than an attempt to stuff multiple years’ worth of civics into a single semester,” wrote Oregon Education Association lobbyist Jared Mason-Gere. 

Sen. Fred Girod, R-Lyons and Sen. Lew Frederick, D-Portland, both said people have misconceptions about what the state legislature looks like and what it does. Girod said during a speech that he regularly received calls from citizens about a bill congress approved, despite not being a member of congress, and Frederick told The Oregonian/OregonLive that people do not understand the time legislation takes.  

Supporters of the bill include groups and individuals such as Rep. Earl Blumenauer — a Portland Democrat, former Rep. Greg Walden — Oregon’s previous longtime Republican in Congress, the Hispanic Metropolitan Chamber, various law firms, and Nike.  

By: Hannah Ramsey