Oregon's capitol building

Oregon's capitol building

On Monday May 24th, the Oregon House voted to ensure that every Oregon high school student will receive one semester of civics education before they graduate. The Oregon Department of Education provides standards for civics and government education. However, without designated and focused class time, that content is often relegated in disparate fashion to other social studies courses. This bill will allow teachers to provide a robust, dedicated civics course that will ensure all students receive a strong grounding in the established civic standards. The bipartisan bill was carried by chief sponsor Representative Paul Evans (D-Monmouth) and passed unanimously.

“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 Evans.

“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.”

Senate Republican Leader Fred Girod (R-Stayton), the chief sponsor of SB 513 highlighted the urgency of this legislation.

“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 Leader 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.”

Josedavid Muñoz-Ronquillo, a bill supporter and junior at Parkrose High School in Portland, hailed passage of SB 513 as a win for Oregon students.

“The Civics Education Act will ensure that every Oregon high school student has the chance to realize and be inspired by the opportunities we have to make positive impacts in the world through our government and our civic institutions,” said Muñoz-Ronquillo. “Voting was something unimportant to me before I learned how we have the power through civic engagement to make changes. I worked hard to support SB 513 and delivered testimony before the Senate Committee on Education because I believe if every Oregon student has a chance to be inspired to participate in our government, our government and our shared future will be stronger for it.”

SB 513 now heads to Governor Brown’s desk.

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