Financial Literacy House Bill
Since I have worked in schools for years, it made sense that I was a part of the fellowship’s education policy group. Here, we were able to develop our own policy concept, yet this is where the struggles reside. Even though we were all students, we had drastically different ideas we were passionate about, such as international education, civics education, and college access. Even so, we were able to submit our proposed solutions, focusing on career and technical education, college access, life skills, and financial literacy.
We then encountered another problem: What issue should we pick? After a long Zoom debate, our team decided on choosing a policy concept based on making an impact, not on its feasibility to pass in our fellowship. Knowing this, we chose financial literacy due to seeing our graduates lacking the skills they needed to succeed, especially during the pandemic.
Soon, our team members started meeting key stakeholders, which included high school teachers, advocacy groups, and the Oregon Department of Education. By meeting with them all, we started noticing the dynamics within education policy, such as the understanding that when you add something, you need to take away something from the curriculum.
Eventually, we developed a one pager for our policy concept, where we explained our policy problem, our policy solution, its benefits, and its fiscal impact. Although it was two pages, we received great feedback from Jack Lehman, a staffer of Representative Rayfield. From Jack, we learned of the need to shorten our one pager while still leaving folks with the key information they need. Understanding this, our team did our best in wordsmithing our one pager in addition to including key endorsements to show support for our policy. For fun, I also changed up the formatting of our one pager to look more clean.
Finally, we focused on the last part of the fellowship, where we get to present our policy concept to a panel of state representatives. Here, our group collaborated on a presentation that seeks to use a narrative approach. In our case, we had Caroline Gao start us off by explaining how Oregonians are not financially literate and what that means for high schoolers like her. We then shifted more towards our policy concept and how it can be implemented.
Luckily, our approach worked! Our policy concept was deemed the best out of the cohort, and it eventually became Oregon House Bill 3232. Although we almost had a public hearing on the bill, HB 3232 was among the many bills that died due to Republican delay tactics. Here is an OPB podcast episode that expands more on the situation within the Oregon State Legislature.