In 2021, then Oregon Governor Kate Brown signed into law SB 744, which temporarily suspended essential skills requirements to graduate high school. The requirements were lifted for several years pending a review by the state Department of Education (ODE).
The bill, passed on a strictly partisan vote in the legislature, received extensive criticism at the time for putting 'equity and 'educational justice' (whatever that means) over actual academic standards.
Removing requirements is not rigor. Rigor is not equity. And equity is not equality or excellence in education. Whether or not adults agree on vocabulary, the bottom line is that SB 744 uses equity as a euphemism for scraping standards and shortchanging students.— Oregonians for Liberty in Education (@OregoniansE) August 12, 2021
New skills requirements and standards in Oregon, to begin with the 2024-25 school year, were to be based on the evaluation from the ODE. The ODE issued that report, Community-Informed Recommendations for Equitable Graduation Outcomes, in September 2022.
Yes, it's as cringeworthy as the name suggests.
But this week, an assessment of the ODE report -- and of SB 744 in general -- was published by the Oregon Association of Scholars in conjunction with Save Oregon Schools. What they found was 'fraud at a massive scale.'
BREAKING: Unveiling Oregon Department of Education's Controversial Methods: A Deep Dive into Research Flaws and Lack of Oversighthttps://t.co/h3urTG5dXE— Jeff | Save Oregon Schools (@PapaBearMyers) September 19, 2023
This is fraud at a massive scale, and it has been used to circumvent our democratic processes by delivering fraudulent…
The study summarizes its findings as follows:
We find that the assumptions of SB 744 are flawed and that the ODE report is even more flawed. ODE violated the terms of the bill in writing its report. It misused and misunderstood various research findings; it ignored widely available evidence that points to conclusions different from those it reached; it engaged in plagiarism and Google-search research; and it made racist attacks on the people and students of Oregon. In short, this report finds that ODE has violated its mission to provide an objective report as required under SB 744.
More specifically, the study details how ODE violated the political neutrality requirements of SB 744, made a racist claim that graduation requirements were 'white,' baselessly attacked Oregon teachers, erroneously cited research about 'belonging,' misrepresented research on discipline standards based on race and, perhaps most egregiously, attempted to 'dumb down' education standards for students of color.
Moreover, the study finds that all of this was done by design.
For example, in its report, ODE claims that there is systemic, cultural, and educator bias in determining graduation standards. What the Oregon Association of Scholars found was that this claim was made with no hard evidence, just a single statement from one anonymous school superintendent. ODE also claimed that 'student belonging' was a key factor in graduation rates, but the study ODE cited for that claim clearly states that it could not determine or make any conclusions about causality between belonging and graduation.
There is much more than just those two examples in the full 27-page study, which conducts a true deep dive into ODE's deliberate misrepresentations. It really sounds like ODE reached its conclusion first and then concocted a report to justify that conclusion.
There are 2 things school districts do well: celebrate themselves & protect themselves.— Moms for Liberty (@Moms4Liberty) September 19, 2023
If they can’t find ways to celebrate themselves under the current metrics, they will change the metrics in order to protect themselves.
Enter “Equitable Graduation Requirements” in Oregon👇 https://t.co/gYlRAw54Wn
You knew Moms for Liberty would be paying attention to this. But Save Oregon Schools also sent its study to every Oregon state senator and representative, and it's getting some attention from them.
In the name of racial "equity", Oregon has abandoned standardized testing, the Essential Skills Proficiency test. Now, ODE is considering extending the suspension of the testing until 2028.— Rep. Real Diehl (@Real_EdDiehl) September 19, 2023
Oregon's public schools are failing our kids and our parents. We need to reinstitute… https://t.co/IUYPKRKUkw
And there is the answer to the question, 'Why is this important?' The temporary skills suspension enabled by SB 744 won't stay temporary if the state acts on ODE's report. The state has already written legislation based on ODE's recommendations, and will continue to use those recommendations for future legislation unless their fraudulent nature is exposed.
Iron Law of Woke Corruption, yet again. https://t.co/xYpgGW4Xnf— James Lindsay, does whatever he wants (@ConceptualJames) September 19, 2023
Oregon's leadership has corrupted K-12 education in the state, all under the pretense of "helping" minorities.— Free Black Thought (@FreeBlckThought) September 20, 2023
This investigation promises to expose one of the biggest education scandals in the country.
Check it out: https://t.co/IKK61pzkAi
And don't think this is just restricted to Oregon. It's clear that other states are consulting with Oregon on education standards.
What's interesting is how Oregon seems to be sharing notes with Minnesota (see pic). Looks like someone from your Office of Higher Education is going to be speaking with our Senate Interim Committee on Education next week. pic.twitter.com/vomIwsMoem— Jeff | Save Oregon Schools (@PapaBearMyers) September 19, 2023
However, maybe now that studies like the one published by the Oregon Association of Scholars and Save Oregon Schools are out in the open, it will be more difficult for state legislatures and governors to enact bad laws based on flawed data.
With that in mind, let's end on two high notes.
Jeff Myers sent out this update on Sept. 20, one day after the study was published:
SEP20 Update: The State Board of Education will not be voting tomorrow on extending the Essential Skills requirement for graduation. It was removed some time between noon yesterday and this morning.— Jeff | Save Oregon Schools (@PapaBearMyers) September 20, 2023
Now on to the investigation of @ORDeptEd! pic.twitter.com/LBtDXlWve9
As for that investigation, Myers also included this statement in his article about the study:
I can also assure you this is not the only fraudulent report that ODE has produced. Over the next few days and weeks, I will be releasing information on other significant reports and plans ODE has published that are equally biased, inaccurate, and destined for the trash bin. This is a clear pattern of deception at a grand scale that has somehow evaded exposure, until now.
We will definitely stay tuned for that.
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