The Patriot Post® · Abandoning Standards for Equity's Sake

By Arnold Ahlert ·

There is little doubt that Oregon Governor Kate Brown believes she has done something “noble” for the public school students in her state. In reality, she’s behaving like a boilerplate progressive bigot.

On July 14, Brown signed Senate Bill 744. It states that “a student may not be required to show proficiency in Essential Learning Skills as a condition of receiving a high school diploma” through the next three school years. In short, a student can “graduate” from an Oregon high school without having demonstrated that he or she can read, write, or do math at a high school level.

As abhorrent as that is, it gets worse. Charles Boyle, the governor’s deputy communications director, stated in an email that suspending the need to be proficient in basic skills will benefit “Oregon’s Black, Latino, Latina, Latinx, Indigenous, Asian, Pacific Islander, Tribal, and students of color.”

“Leaders from those communities have advocated time and again for equitable graduation standards, along with expanded learning opportunities and supports,” Boyle added.

As always, progressives like to hide behind vocabulary to obscure their ideological bankruptcy. Thus, we have “equitable graduation standards,” which is an oxymoron of the highest order. If one has graduation standards, then students who do the necessary work will meet them, and students who don’t won’t, in which case they won’t receive a diploma until they do.

Equity is the contemptible idea that all students will attain the same outcome — in this case, a diploma — wholly irrespective of whether or not they have actually earned it. That is a not a “standard” in any sense of the term, except one: Since the stated effort of this lunacy is to benefit minority students, Oregon schools have officially sanctioned bigotry as the “standard” by which students will be measured.

While George W. Bush aptly termed such machinations the “soft bigotry of low expectations,” that phrase doesn’t go nearly far enough. This is a despicable combination of paternalism, whereby white progressives pat themselves on the back for their high-mindedness, and social justice, whereby minority leaders embrace “systemic racism” as a shield to hide the sellout of their fellow minorities. Yet while these people are suffused with a sense of their moral superiority, one critical thing gets completely obscured:

They are more than willing to mortgage the future of hundreds of young Americans who will discover what kind of life really awaits people whose education has been marginalized to further a political agenda.

And not just for this year, but also for those students who “graduate” from the classes of 2022, 2023, and 2024. Thus, we can be virtually assured that educational “equity” will produce students who are equally ignorant. Such is inevitable when one caters to the lowest common denominator that the abandonment of genuine standards epitomizes.

Where is the outrage? Perhaps many Oregonians remain unaware of this, as Brown’s decision was not made public until recently, due to the fact that her office didn’t hold a signing ceremony or even issue a press release. Moreover, the bill Brown signed wasn’t entered into the legislative database until July 29, a move that represents a departure from the usual procedure of entering such information into the public database the same day a bill is signed.

Oregon’s current graduation standards have been in place since 2009, but they were suspended during the pandemic, and the aforementioned three-year extension is about allowing leaders to reexamine them. Recommendations for new ones are due to be presented to the legislature and State Board of Education by September 2022.

Yet since those same officials have stated that they would not impose new graduation requirements on students who have already begun high school, the new requirements would not take effect until the class of 2027 at the very earliest. Thus, three years of educational armageddon will apparently become five.

This nation is at a crossroads, one where we can no longer afford to embrace the ideological and intellectual bankruptcy of an “education” system dominated by the same progressives who have dominated it for years. It has become painfully obvious that their agenda is politicization first and foremost, and genuine education second — but only insofar as it doesn’t undermine that politicization. The most despicable aspect of that politicization?

Two generations of Americans have been taught to hold their own nation in contempt.

Once again: Republicans at the state level have the opportunity of a lifetime. Legislatures controlled by them should initiate measures whereby any time a teachers union contract expires, it will not be renewed, and teachers will subsequently be hired on a case-by-case, meritocratic basis. If local districts wish to resist, legislators should make it clear that any and all expenses related to the unions they wish to preserve — including salaries and benefits — will be borne by those districts themselves.

Until recently, most Americans paid little attention to the ongoing nexus between teachers unions, administrators, and school boards, all of whom have amply demonstrated their hostility and indifference to thousands of parents who want their children to be taught how to think, not what to think. Hostility and indifference whereby they have publicly announced they will defy state laws and teach what they want.

The campaign contribution tracking website OpenSecrets reveals why this is possible, noting that teachers unions have given Democrats “at least 94 percent of the funds they contributed to candidates and parties since as far back as 1990, where our data begins.”

Thus, we have what amounts to a de facto monopoly. Teachers unions fund Democrat politicians sympathetic to their agenda, paving the way for the appointment of Democrat-controlled school district personnel and school board members. Until this alliance is forcibly challenged, the nation will continue to “graduate” millions of weak-thinking Americans, many of whom will ultimately turn to government to underwrite their well-being.

Government dependency is the lifeblood of the American Left, which has now moved seamlessly into an alliance with Big Tech, which has also demonstrated its commitment to censor that which fails to accrue to leftist sensibilities. Sensibilities that currently aim to turn America from a constitutional republic to a Marxist/socialist construct — with the Left permanently in charge.

The wholesale abandonment of American principles cannot happen without widespread acquiescence, and if the Republican Party cannot embrace this once-in-a-generation opportunity to seize control of the most important agenda in the nation, and initiate what amounts to a counter-“fundamental transformation” — back to decency, sensibility, and genuine standards — the GOP can no longer be considered a viable opposition party.

Bottom line: Those who support the “graduation” of thousands of illiterate, innumerate young Americans are racist frauds, and they have held sway long enough. The ongoing devolution of American society is irrefutable evidence of their “handiwork.”

When is enough enough?