Oregon House passes legislation backed by East Portland Democrat Representative Diego Hernandez.

FILE PHOTO: ZANE SPARLING - Representative Diego HernandezLegislation looks to improve minority engagement in the classroom

The Oregon House has passed a bill it hopes will promote greater school attendance and improved graduation rates by bringing new perspectives and diversity to the classroom.

House Bill 2845 would mandate ethnic study standards for K-12 schools. It would require the Department of Education to recruit 13 people from diverse backgrounds to show where Oregon fails to shed light on the history and contributions made by ethnic groups and social minorities.

"It's apparent that now more than ever, we need opportunities to really learn about and understand the experiences of our neighbors and their histories," Rep. Diego Hernandez (D-Portland), the bill's chief sponsor, said in a news release. "By teaching the histories and contributions of all people, ethnic studies will open more pathways for teachers to engage with, relate to and understand diverse students."

The House voted 39-15 on Wednesday, June 14, to pass HB 2845, sending it on to the Senate. "This bill could go a long way in keeping more students of ethnic and social minorities engaged and activated in school," Hernandez said. "This is one clear way to close the racial achievement gap in our schools."

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