SALEM, Ore. — The Oregon House of Representatives on Monday voted unanimously to pass a bill that would require a semester of civics for all high school students before graduation, sending it on to Governor Kate Brown for signature.
Senate Bill 513 passed the Oregon Senate with widespread support in April. The bill ensures that students receive dedicated class time over a semester-long civics education course.
“Civics education is the necessary component for the security and sustainability of a Republic based upon democratic ideals and this landmark bill will give the next generation of Oregonians the knowledge and tools they need to lead,” said Representative Paul Evans, chief sponsor of the bill. “I have been working to pass a civics requirement for Oregon students since entering the Legislature in 2014 and was heartened to see overwhelming support for this bill expressed by hundreds of local elected officials, educators, students, members of the business community and individual citizens. Their voices were heard by this Legislature and their support was the engine that helped pass the Civics Education Act.”
The Oregon Department of Education already provided standards for education on civics and government, but it is usually touched on in social studies courses instead of being taught in a single course. SB 513 promises to provide a "robust, dedicated civics course" so that every student gets a strong grounding in civics, supporters say.
“At a time where many Americans cannot name the three branches of government and studies are showing declining faith democratic values, Oregon should no longer be one of the few states left without civics standards,” said Senate Republican Leader Fred Girod. “Instead of pushing agendas in the classroom, our kids need to be taught the fundamentals. Disagreement is an inherent part of democracy, but this bill will teach our kids how to participate in our institutions and use their rights and responsibilities as actively engaged citizens to shape the world around them.”
Having passed both chambers, SB 513 heads to Governor Brown's desk for signing into law.