The liberal Oregonian, Oregon’s newspaper of record, was surprised by a new law signed by Governor Kate Brown that suspends the requirement for basic skills testing of students as a prerequisite for graduation from high school through the 2022-2023 school year.
But I wasn’t.
Nothing surprises the seasoned conservative mind used to living in these parts, even the announcement that no stand-up urinals would be installed in the restrooms of the newly-remodeled Portland Municipal Services Building. You see, that would be too gender-specific, or binary, or something. I said I was not surprised by it; I didn’t say I understood it.
When Antifa and Black Lives Matter ran rampant during the summer of 2020, rendering the downtown area an after-sundown no-go zone, and officials announced that the law enforcement response would be sparse if at all, my surprise-o-meter remained flatlined.
When President Trump sent federal officers to protect against rioters trying to burn down federal buildings in the downtown core, and city officials complained about Trump, my capacity for surprise never got off the couch.
That’s just the way it is. It must be mentioned that this is the way it is along the radical leftist-controlled Interstate 5 corridor—Portland, Salem, Eugene, and Ashland—where a tipping-point electoral majority lives and votes. Out beyond the liberal enclaves, I can assure you, blood, soil, and party affiliation runs capital-R red.
No matter, the I-5 leftists rule the roost, the roost being the Oregon Legislature in Salem, where they hold supermajorities.
But now, with this new mandate aimed at preventing underperforming Black, Latino, and Native American students from flunking out, even the liberal hive is pausing to reflect on the ramifications.
The edict, Senate Bill 774, temporarily allows schools to graduate students without them having to demonstrate the barest grasp of reading, writing, and math fundamentals. The Oregonian editorial assailing the law is behind a paywall, but anyone with a sixth-grade education will be able to figure out what’s going on here. It is worrisome to some so-called progressives that however well-intentioned may be the intent, this “fix” will result in awarding diplomas to a cohort of students woefully unprepared to compete and thrive in a real-world environment.
Again, in the insane quest for social justice at any cost, the left is harming the very individuals they are trying to help. Imagine a seventeen-year-old senior who reads at a sixth-grade level, cannot string a cogent written paragraph together, and without a calculator has difficulty with basic arithmetic. If this student is one of Kate’s experimental kids—the law’s effect will be evaluated after its trial run–they’ll still get the diploma.
I can save them the evaluation: These kids will be as ignorant as a bag of hammers. Notwithstanding, I will not be surprised if upon evaluation the program is deemed to be a smashing success.
Pause and consider the problem this misguided law is trying to redress. Students of color are not currently graduating in acceptable numbers. But we don’t blame the schools, the teacher’s unions, the kids themselves, or their parents. We blame, no surprise, the systematic racism of America, which exists, apparently, even in predominantly blue Oregon.
The children of rural parents who care about education, whose parents are routinely lampooned by the I-5 left, will meet Kate’s Kids on the path of life someday. With valid high-school diplomas and vocational community college degrees, they will own Kate’s Kids in terms of competition for living-wage jobs in the trades, in manufacturing, and other non-professional employment.
The children of rural and suburban parents who care fervently about education, who know that meaningful higher education is often the key to success and eventual happiness in a free-market, capitalist society, will also meet Kate’s Kids on the path of life, and after scratching their surfaces, be aghast at the level of unlearning.
The kids who are not Kate’s Kids, who had to earn their diplomas, will own Kate’s Kids in the real-world marketplace, where the color of one’s skin is secondary to basic comprehension, skills, and ability.
They will own them as they wait for a minimum-wage clerk to ring up a gallon of milk at a convenience market. They will pity them when their elder parents go to a nursing facility and they see who is emptying the bedpans. The kids who have certified educations will blanch when they countenance what happens in a slaughterhouse, and what the people who work in the lower-end jobs there have to do. Not that there is anything wrong with those jobs—we need people to perform them.
They will fear them when they mistake an off-ramp and end up in a dangerous inner city.
They will pay for them when they pony-up tax dollars for vast social safety nets, and to re-fund the police and build more prisons.
For Kate’s Kids, and the millions just like them who never get a diploma, there are no pleasant surprises in store.
And don’t be surprised if this kind of dumbing-down catches on.