House OKs Whisnant bills on civics, financial literacy classes

SALEM, Ore. -

The Oregon House approved two bills Thursday aimed at helping improve the civics and financial literacy of Oregon students. The bills are part of a years-long effort by Rep. Gene Whisnant, R-Sunriver, to help students become more successful in their post-educational careers.

"Civic and financial education should be essential components of our efforts to develop more well-rounded, workforce ready students," Whisnant said. "I am hopeful that HB 2219 and HB 2229 will serve as catalysts for further education in these areas."

Civic and financial literacy courses used to be part of the required curriculum for high schools in Oregon.

"I had tried to add both back as required subject, but there were concerns that might place an unfunded mandate on our schools," Whisnant said in a news release, noting the bills instead strongly encourage school districts to make such courses available to all students.

"However, the State Board of Education did add civics as an essential learning skill which students must in some manner demonstrate knowledge in. I think that is a step in the right direction," he said.

While credit union and banking industry representatives testified that they provide programs on financial literacy for free as a public service, HB 2229 will make this kind of education even more accessible for Oregonians.

A national report card on adult financial literacy gave Oregon an "inflated" B-minus grade, but former Treasurer Ted Wheeler or current Mayor of Portland Ted Wheeler said he would give Oregon a D-minus.

"I have seen studies that suggest that financial illiteracy is a serious problem in our communities," said Rep. Whisnant, citing the Champlain College study. "I am pleased that the Legislature has recognized that this is an issue and that we are taking steps to address the problem."

Having received approval from the House, HB 2219 and HB 2229 will now head to the Senate for further consideration.

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