Senate Bill 3 purports to do what many popular social media posts recommend we do: teach more practical life skills in school. This bill, sponsored by the two parties’ senate leaders, mandates one credit in “future planning” as a requirement for a high school diploma in Oregon.
This bill defines what a course in future planning is intended to entail and contains what people who generally call for more of this kind of instruction hope to see. For example, the bill defines future planning as instruction that includes guidance on:
(a) Applying for jobs, including preparing a resume or filling out a job application and developing job interview skills;
(b) Applying for admission to a post-secondary institution of education, including applying for financial aid and scholarships;
(c) Applying financial literacy standards, including filing income tax returns, creating a budget, understanding bank and credit card statements and planning for retirement;
(d) Developing career-related skills, including improving employability skills, taking advantage of community-based experiential learning and gaining knowledge of career opportunities; and…
And what? I had a career planning course in high school as well as a business math course that covered personal finance. Somehow those course offerings didn’t require an act of the Oregon legislature. When you mandate this kind of instruction in state law, you are bound to get some silly stuff too. After learning how to apply for jobs, apply for higher education, apply personal finance habits, and develop career-related skills, what might that “and” be? What else might get tucked in there, mandated as a matter of state education policy? The fifth subparagraph defines future planning as instruction providing guidance on “(e) Seeking assistance, including accessing community resources and acting as a self-advocate for mental, physical and financial well-being.” What might sound like teaching self-assertiveness is probably going to become mandated instruction on how to suckle upon the teat of public assistance.
Try to put this in the context of homelessness in Portland, the city where young people go to retire. Might instruction in (e) undermine instruction in (a)?
Eric Shierman lives in Salem and is the author of We were winning when I was there.