Oregon House bill requires high schoolers to plot course for future

By Deborah Bloom

Oregon Daily Emerald, U. Oregon via UWIRE

A bill passed by the state House of Representatives could keep Oregon’s high school students from obtaining diplomas unless they can demonstrate a clear intention to seek future education or job opportunities.

House Bill 2732, which garnered House approval Monday, requires high school students to show proof of application to college, the U.S. armed forces or into an apprenticeship program in order to be eligible for a diploma.

Rep. Tobias Read (D-Beaverton), the bill’s author, said this piece of legislation could improve the employability of Oregonians by encouraging students to consider the career opportunities available to them at a critical transition point in their education.

“This bill does not intend to tell anyone what the right choice is for them. It merely seeks to prompt consideration of that question,” Read said on the House floor. “Think about the student who intends to work in the family business. Wouldn’t he likely benefit from some accounting or bookkeeping classes at the community college?”

Although the bill passed 33 to 26 with the support of one-third of Republicans and two-thirds of Democrats, many legislators raised concerns over the new requirements.

For Rep. Mike Schaufler (D-Happy Valley), the bill failed to adequately address the issue of Oregon’s unemployment. Schaufler said making an incentive for manual labor and higher education for Oregon’s high school students will instead take actual investment in state infrastructure — building bridges, roads and zoning land for industry.

“Let’s get down to business getting people to work by passing real legislation which puts people to work, which we’re not doing,” Schaufler said.

Additionally, the Schaufler argued against placing any barriers between high school students and the diplomas they should be receiving.

“Why should my daughter have to fill out some application to get a degree she already earned?” Schaufler asked. “This is one more hoop we’re making people jump through to get what they deserve.”

Rep. Julie Parrish (R-Tualatin/West Linn) agreed and added that placing any additional mandates on Oregon’s already cash-strapped high schools was unwise.

“I can’t support this bill,” Parrish said. “I think it provides an unnecessary hardship on a child potentially, as well as on school districts that can’t afford this from us right now.”

In support of the bill, Rep. Peter Buckley (D-Ashland) pointed out that Oregon’s high schools weren’t doing enough to prepare its students for the current job market. He shared a story of his visit to a local high school several years ago, where he surveyed 28 advanced placement students regarding their intentions to enter college.

“25 out of 28 AP students weren’t applying for college … my heart broke at that point,” Buckley said. “This bill is a common sense bill … it will give (students) a push to fill out that application and say ‘What’s next for me?'”

The bill does not apply to modified diplomas, extended diplomas or GEDs. Students would also be allowed to attend an orientation session for a training or apprenticeship program instead of providing proof of application to a postsecondary institution.

Though the bill did not specify a mechanism to track students, individual school districts would be charged with its enforcement.

HB 2732 now moves to the Oregon Senate for consideration and vote.

Read more here: http://www.dailyemerald.com/news/oregon-house-bill-requires-high-schoolers-to-plot-course-for-future-1.2208757
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