Governor Right to Delay High School Grad Requirements

Oregon’s brave and proud governor, Ted Kulongoski, will seek to delay the new, “tough” graduation requirements for Oregon’s high school students. This is the correct course of action. It must be done and done soon. Here is why:

First, let’s re-visit what these new standards are. Students graduating in 2012 will actually have to complete four credits in English/Language Arts. Students will have to take a math class three of the four years they are in high school. Same for science and social studies. One year of the four they will have to take a physical education class. And one year of the four they will have to take a health class. Also, in three of the four years they must take a class in the arts, career education, or a foreign language and also take 6 electives over the four years. Now, to top all this off, students will actually have to pass state tests in reading, writing, math, and speaking to get a diploma!

There you have it. No wonder we must delay these draconian requirements. Very, very, very few students will ever be able to meet them. They are simply too, too much. Just imagine if you had to deal with requirements like these when you were in high school. I dare say, many of us never would have made it to college. The governor knows very, very, very few students will ever meet them. Thus, we must end them and end them now. We must quit playing games with our children’s future. How embarrassing will it be if Oregon’s low graduation rate goes down even further? Very embarrassing — trust me on that.

I applaud the governor’s brave stand. Many will say students should actually have to take classes and past tests to graduate, but they would be wrong. Oregon doesn’t have the money, time, or resources to accomplish this — the governor said so and I believe him. When you spend $8,000 or more per year per student you can’t really get a lot done. Let’s at least be honest about that. We would need at least $16,000 per year per student just to get them to pass the state tests, let alone all those classes.

We need more counselors, more summer school teachers, more math teachers, and more of just about everything to pull this off. Sadly, Oregon’s business friendly economy isn’t well and cuts will have to be made. We can not force these students to learn and accomplish things against their will. It is silly to presume we can for any price.

Just eliminate these graduation requirements once and for all. Joining 26 other states with such requirements, Oregon’s more rigorous requirements were enacted by a unanimous Oregon Board of Education in June of 2008 after nearly three years of study. What do they know? Certainly not as much as the governor. How could they? They are not governors. They are not students. They are not teachers. They are simply not qualified to make such decisions and the governor has said so. We must save our schools. I stand behind this brave man 101%.