Wednesday, October 29, 2014

A Vote for Mike Rounds is a Vote for EB-5

The only thing that Mike Rounds seems to be able to say in tonight's debate on KELO is that a vote for any of my opponents is a vote for Barak Obama; however, when asked if he would support repealing the EB-5 program all he could say was that we should look at it.  That is clear politician speak for I will give a wink and a nod to the program and still use it to line mine and my friend's pockets.  

All of the candidates other than Mike Rounds were clear that this program was failed because of corruption.  Larry Pressler, Rick Weiland, and Gordan Howie say no to EB-5.  Mike Rounds says yes to EB-5.  We should trust Mike Rounds because,... because,... oh shoot, I can't think of a reason.

Here is a man that says that he investigates things like the Keystone pipeline that could destroy the South Dakota's main aquifer by asking the people that want to build Keystone XL for technical advice.  "I mean, why would they lie about something like that," say Round.  I think this statement tells you everything you need to know about Mike Rounds and his ability to lead and to support South Dakotans in the Senate.

So remember, a vote for Mike Rounds is a vote for EB-5 and anything else big business wants because why would they lie?   

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Daugaard's Salary Should Be Set at $3,200 a Year

Daugaard likes to compare apples and oranges when it comes to education as an excuse to keep teacher pay so low.  It is only fair that he should live under the same logic.  When you compare Daugaard's performance in office with that of the Lennox mayor, it is clear that Daugaard is getting paid way too much money.

The salary for mayor in Lennox is $3,200 a year and $40 per special meeting.  Daugaard's salary is $98,000.  

Lennox has experienced less crime, has a lower unemployment rate, the local school's ACT test scores are slightly higher than the state average, the roads in the town are in about as good of shape as the roads around the state, and while we too have issues surrounding favoritism, the town of Lennox has never given tens of millions of dollars to recruit businesses to have them go belly up.

By all measurements, the Mayor of Lennox is doing much better than the Governor.  There is no reason to pay him this outrageous salary.  $3,200 should be more than enough to compensate him for the work he has done.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Only Daugaard Could Pull Me Back In

I had taken a much needed break from blogging.  School had started.  The debate season is soon approaching and that has meant that I have spent nearly 50-60 hours at the school building between teaching, coaching, and helping referring volleyball.  My boys are involved in Boy Scouts, going to sporting events in town, and basic life.  It was nice to avoid taking an hour or more in writing a blog that is researched and deliberate (for the most part).  The Democrats are on life support with Rick Weiland.  Corrina Robinson has not been able to mount anything resembling a real campaign and Susan Wismer is not much better.  I was prepared to accept a Republican sweep; not happy about it but prepared to accept it.

Then Dennis Daugaard opened his mouth and pulled me back into the fray.  If there was ever any doubt about how Dennis Daugaard views educators and about how ignorant Dennis Daugaard is when it comes to the field of education, he has slammed shut the door on those uncertainties.  In an interview with the Argus Leader, Daugaard is quoted:
In an interview last week with 100 Eyes Daugaard said: "You can't say that you won't obtain quality without high compensation. I was just at O'Gorman (High School). The teachers at O'Gorman are paid, as a group, less than the Sioux Falls School District. Their students achieve better."
Daugaard was always a supporter of the private school system in Dell Raipids.  Most of his children went through the private school until of course it could not offer something that a child wanted and then he turned to the public system.  I have no qualms with private schools.  I taught at a private school in my first year of teaching.  The ignorance that Daugaard shows is that he thinks that the population at a private school like O'Gorman is the same as the population at Sioux Falls Washington.

At the private school that I taught many years ago, there was no special education department.  We didn't have IEPs.  Students whose needs that could not be met went to the public school in the town.  These students came from mostly stable homes.  The majority of them would be considered middle class families or high income families.  The overwhelming majority of the students were Caucasian.  That could not be said for the public school in Storm Lake, Iowa.  It is ridiculous to even think that the challenges faced by teachers in that school were the same as the ones I faced in the private school.

He then goes to the same old drivel of how it is not the state that sets teacher pay, it is the schools that set it.  
"The state doesn't control teacher pay," Daugaard said. "To point the finger at the state and say you are the problem here, it just, it's not accurate. If (school districts) want to spend more money for teacher pay, that's what they can do."
I AM SO SICK OF THIS LINE OF CRAP!  I appreciate my school board.  They are very frugal with the money that they have available to control.  When you only give school districts a certain amount of money, that money must be set aside to pay for all of the normal operating expenses.  When districts get some additional money, guess what the vast majority do with it: Give it to teachers as a means to increase salaries.  Daugaard controls what teachers get paid and clearly thinks that teacher gets far too much money right now. 

Daugaard will win next week.  This is true.  What else is going to be true is that Daugaard will do everything in his power to humiliate and belittle the education field.  We must turn our focus not on Daugaard who will have no one to answer to except the business elite that control him, but instead on the Senators and Representatives that must at least answer to the people every two years.

I think the feeling is best summed up by teacher and parent of an O'Gorman student, Travis Dahle, who posted on Facebook:
Dennis Daugaard - you owe an apology to every single teacher and student in this state. I may have disagreed with some of your policies, but I at least respected you in the past. That ship has sailed. If ANY educator thinks that this person should be re-elected, then you should leave the profession now.
Daugaard is an enemy of public education.  He has never, ever shown any respect for education.  When you wonder why some districts are struggling to fill positions, the management of the state by Daugaard is the key reason.  Daugaard may win, but he should get zero percent of the education vote: ZERO! 

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Banning Books

This week is Banned Books Week and an important reminder that we must allow for challenging view points to be available for students and the general public.  As a teacher, there is always the concern that some parent somewhere will become upset over a book that is part of the school curriculum.  The list of books that have been challenged and banned in places is incredibly long.  It includes books like Winnie the Pooh, The Scarlett Letter, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Animal Farm, To Kill a Mocking Bird, The Lorax, The Outsiders, Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes, and many, many more.  You can see a list on South Dakota State University Library's website.

I look at some of the books and can see why they might not be offered in a high school library.  Fifty Shades of Grey and Madonna's book Sex are a couple of good examples; however, if a high school student showed up to class with the book to read on his or her own, I would respect that student's desire to read.  

I remember a time when a parent that was homeschooling a student asked for a list of AP books to help her student prepare for college and an AP test.  This parent did not want any AP books that used inappropriate language, sexual references, or extreme violence.  I struggled to think of any books.  I gravitate toward more modern fiction, but knew I could not recommend Grapes of Wrath, Catcher in the Rye, Great Gatsby, Fahrenheit 451, Catch 22, Frankenstein, or a host of others.  I know that there are some other books that might be considered acceptable, but I felt bad for that chance at great literature this student may never get.  

It is hard enough to get students interested in reading.  It is important that libraries can offer a wide selection of material to be available for potential readers.  When a parent challenges a book because they disagree with it based on religion or their own personal sense of morality, it runs the risk of limiting knowledge and access to opening new minds.  I do think that it is okay to question if certain material is age appropriate.  A good librarian is trained to examine material and help guide the library based on the audience.  

So, I encourage you to go down to your local library, thank the librarian working there, and check out a book that has been placed on the challenged or banned book list.  The book may challenge your world view, but what a better way to discover a little nugget of humanity.

Monday, September 15, 2014

EB-5 Is Mike Rounds

Mike Rounds continues to try and run away from EB-5, saying that it is not his program, but he still thinks it is really awesome!  Bob Mercer reminds Mike Rounds that EB-5 is all you pal:
Rounds and Weiland have run TV ads lately on the EB-5 matter. Neither of their ads is totally accurate. Rounds’ ad is the bigger dodge. EB-5 was indeed his program. His Cabinet pursued expansions of it hard from the federal agency that oversees it. His Cabinet secretary Richard Benda signed the contract in 2009 privatizing EB-5 administration, with state government to receiving percentages of the fees paid by foreign investors to the private company run by Joop Bollen of Aberdeen.
While the article was more about the role of Pressler, Mercer provides a clear reminder about just how much Rounds pushed for EB-5 in South Dakota and how active he was with the promotion of the program.

On other related EB-5 fronts, it appears that Tidemann is being encouraged to act on EB-5 instead of running away from it and protecting the GOP leadership in the state by an advertisement being running by South Dakota Democrats.

This seems to be one thing that the Republicans are good at: avoid debates, avoid asking questions, just continue to say that everything is fine.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Lies, Damn Lies, and Statistics

Mark Twain wrote in his Autobiography, "There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies and statistics."  This quotation, a favorite of mine, might sum up all this talk about polling in the Senate race between Weiland, Rounds, Pressler, and other (uhh, I mean Howie).  

Pat Powers at South Dakota War College attacks a recent poll by SurveyUSA because it doesn't look good for his man, Mike Rounds, and shows other Democratic candidates polling better than to be expected.  He does so by going after the methodology used for the poll.
Part of the problem is, according to its methodology, it’s a push button poll combined with Internet polling.
Cory Heidelberger at Madville Times, points out that just a little while earlier that Powers was raving about the same poll.  He then goes on to defend SurveyUSA's methodology:
Survey USAVoter Reg
GOP50%47%
Dem33%34%
Indy16%19%
Survey USA over-represented Republicans, not Democrats. Survey USA under-represented Independents. A more representative sample would have put Rounds even lower and Weiland and Pressler even closer to pulling off the upset of the decade.
Powers in another entry crows about another poll (Yougov.com) showing Wismer far behind Daugaard, but doesn't share that poll's methodology, which also uses online sampling to get to its conclusions.  The website explains its methodology in part:
The Battleground Tracker is a four-wave panel study conducted by YouGov for CBS News and the New York Times Upshot during the 2014 midterm elections. The survey provides estimates for voting on every race for U.S. Senate, Governor, and the House of Representatives. Interviews are conducted with samples of online survey panelists that have been selected and weighted to be representative of registered voters. This document describes in detail the statistical methodology used in the Battleground Tracker panel.
It targets registered voters that are available to go online.  The SurveyUSA poll actually calls people, mostly registered and some not registered.
SurveyUSA interviewed 775 South Dakota adults 09/03/14 through 09/07/14. Of the adults, 674 were registered to vote. Of the registered voters, 510 were determined by SurveyUSA to be likely to vote in the 11/04/14 general election. This research was conducted using blended sample, mixed mode. Respondents reachable on a home (landline) telephone (88% of likely voters) were interviewed on their home telephone in the recorded voice of a professional announcer. Respondents not reachable on a home telephone (12% of likely voters) were shown a questionnaire on their tablet, smartphone, or other electronic device. 
I am not an expert in statistical analysis.  I took a class in it during some graduate studies, but it is definitely not my strong suit.  These statistics are interesting to look at.  We all love polls, but we must remember that in the end, it is the real people that show up to vote in November.  If many Republicans think that Mike Rounds is going to be the hands down winner and decide not to show up, then Weiland/Pressler will pull off the upset.  If Democrats give up and don't bother to vote, then Rounds will beat Weiland by 30% or more and maybe even a third place finish for the Dems behind Pressler.

As Democrat, we should feel good that Rounds simple can't break 50% constantly because that shows people really don't like Mike that much.  However, we can't think this is solved.  The focus must be on voter turnout.  Get the early voting done.  Remind everyone that they need to get out and vote on November 5.  

As we get closer to November, the only thing that we can count on is that we will be hearing a lot of lies, damn lies, and statistics.

Monday, September 1, 2014

On Labor Day We Are Reminded South Dakota Has Little Respect for Laborers

Today is a day celebrating the work of the labor movement and dates back to 1882.    In South Dakota, "union" is a four letter word to many people, especially in the GOP.  There has been a lot of mischaracterization of unions.  The idea that working folk would band together to get the best deal from the corporation that are trying to take advantage of them.  Many get upset with the unions, but very few think it is wrong for businesses that band together through the Chamber of Commerce and other business groups to write laws to help them make a fast buck from government at the expense of the rest of us.

Kathy Tyler reflects on this idea in her latest blog post:
The influence of unions has declined over the years as working conditions and wages have improved. But in my research, one of the things that kept popping up was the growing divide between the upper and lower income groups and the increasing number of families that can’t make a living on their current wages and the increase in the number of jobs that do not provide a living wage. Will unions have a comeback because of these issues? I have no idea, but we must recognize their importance in our past and what they accomplished for workers in our country. If it weren’t for the laborers and the ‘little people’, where would we be?
We, the little people, are having a tougher time getting ahead.  The game continues to seem rigged for the big businesses and those in government that they can buy.  Many in the GOP see the idea of solving unemployment by letting businesses offer wages at any rate, seven dollars an hour, four dollars an hour,  or two dollars an hour.  The Rapid City Journal reminds us about this mindset that people like Dennis Daugaard, Mike Rounds, and Kristi Noem have fully accepted. 

Today the Rapid City Journal talked about the problem that many businesses in Rapid City finding workers.  An issue that Daugaard thinks can be solved by begging people to come here without offering better wages.  The article points to part of the problem that businesses have in finding quality workers: low wages.

According to the national Bureau of Labor Statistics' most recent wage data from May 2013, South Dakota ranks second-to-last in average hourly wages, ahead of only Mississippi. 
A debate over wages in South Dakota is looming. In November, voters will consider a ballot initiative seeking to raise the state's minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to $8.50 plus annual cost-of-living increases. 

Raising the minimum wage in South Dakota will benefit many in this state.  It is a way of respecting all the people that labor day in and day out.  We need to remember this in November and vote for Initiated Measure 18.