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Oregon Bill Would Require Civics Class To Graduate

The interior ceiling of the Oregon Capitol.
Chris Lehman
/
KLCC
The interior ceiling of the Oregon Capitol.

Senate Bill 513, approved in the state Senate Wednesday, would require public high school students to take at least one semester of civics in order to graduate.

Oregon lawmakers want their constituents to know more about how the legislative process works.

That’s one of the goals of Senate Bill 513, which was approved in the state Senate Wednesday. It would require public high school students to take at least one semester of civics in order to graduate.

Sen. Lew Frederick, D-Portland, said Oregonians sometimes think the state legislature functions like a television show. “Often I have to explain to people what we’re dealing with in our political life, that the state government is not the ‘West Wing.’ It is also not ‘Survivor’ or ‘The Game Of Thrones,’ he said.

The bill had bipartisan support, and was sponsored by the Senate Republican leader, Fred Girod, R-Lyons.

“As a legislative body, we very well know how government works,” Girod said. “It is our duty and responsibility to make sure the generations after us do as well.”

The civics class requirement would take effect starting in 2026. The measure passed 25-to-3 and now heads to the Oregon House.

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Chris Lehman covers the Oregon state capitol for JPR as part of the Northwest News Network, a group of 12 Northwest public radio organizations which collaborate on regional news coverage. Chris graduated from Temple University with a journalism degree in 1997. He began his career producing arts features for Red River Public Radio in Shreveport, Louisiana and has been a reporter/announcer for NPR station WNIJ in DeKalb, Illinois. Chris has also reported from overseas, filing stories from Iraq, Burkina Faso, El Salvador, Northern Ireland, Zimbabwe and Uganda.