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Oregon is latest state to dumb down education. Talk about the soft bigotry of low expections

Editor’s note: The following column first appeared in the Daily Signal.

The Oregon Board of Education voted unanimously in October to remove requirements for students to be proficient in reading and writing in order to graduate—joining the long line of ill-advised moves to cut academic expectations for American students.

The Oregon Department of Education released a statement calling the reading and writing proficiency standards “burdensome to teachers and students.” Dan Farley, Oregon’s assistant superintendent of research, assessment, and data with the Education Department, said the standards simply “did not work.”

There’s no evidence that suspending those standards is going to improve the academic performance of any student—quite the contrary. Had the Oregon Board of Education done 15 minutes of research, it would have found that relaxing academic performance standards has had drastic adverse consequences.

As for Oregon’s decision to abandon reading proficiency, the jury isn’t out; to the contrary, it’s quite in. Other states and schools have consistently proven that leaving standards and expectations behind for any reason will result in diminished returns in performance—and students will end up paying the price for the rest of their lives.

Regrettably, Oregon isn’t the first state, and it likely won’t be the last. Every department, board, administrator, and policymaker that withholds expectations from students is depriving them of the possibility of growth and achievement.

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Tony Kinnett is the executive director of the heterodox education publication Chalkboard Review, and the former STEM coordinator and head instructional coach for Indianapolis Public Schools. Follow him on Twitter @TheTonus.

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