Bob Mercer has had a very interesting article that appeared today in the Vermillion Plaintalk. One of the things that or legislature is hearing from them that it is time to return the funding that was gutted a couple of years ago thanks to Daugaard and the GOP.
The Sioux Falls business manager and school superintendents for Tea, Milbank, Custer, Estelline, Burke and Custer on Monday detailed for the legislative committee the financial difficulties their districts are facing and their usage – or not – of capital outlay levies, opt-outs and reserve funds to offset revenue shortages.One of the impacts that this lack of funding is having is the difficulty of retaining solid teachers.
A common theme in the testimony was increasing difficulty retaining solid teachers and attracting quality applicants for vacancies. The denominator seemed to be pay. Base salaries range from $26,000-plus in some small rural districts to as much as $35,870 at Yankton.
Several superintendents including Scott Lepke of Custer said they see test scores falling....
Estelline has two opt-outs that are providing $145,000 on a permanent basis and $350,000 for two more years. Voters are paying about $2 of additional opt-out taxes on every $1,000 of property value, according to superintendent Pat Kraning.
He said Estelline is 22 miles from Brookings and 24 miles from Watertown, which means he faces strong competition for teachers. Estelline is trying to offer attractive salaries, he said.
“People will vote with their feet. Districts need to be able to compete,” Kraning said. “There is a scarcity of teaching candidates out there.”Stanley County principal makes it clear that the teacher crisis is at hand.
Doherty, who hired five teachers this summer — bringing the middle and high school staff to 26 for approximately 200 students — said the shortage won’t change until teachers are paid more.
“It’s already at a critical point,” Doherty said. “When I was starting out, an older teacher told me, ‘If you want the best and brightest in education, you have to pay more money.’ It’s a matter of doing it. Legislators have to step up to the plate and make that happen."The article from the Capital Journal point out that education majors in South Dakota are on the decrease.
The South Dakota Board of Regents said 617 students graduated with education majors in 2000 from state universities. In 2006, that number was 450.
Mike Fugitt, Riggs principal, said 12 people applied for three English teaching positions at Riggs this summer.
“There was a time when that was true in specialty areas — vocational technical courses, foreign language, music.” Fugitt said. “Now, we’re seeing that in core academic areas, like math and English.”Why should today's students spend $40,000-$50,000 to get a diploma when they can hope to get a job that will pay around $27,000, a GOP lead state government that likes to keep funding down for education so they won't see much of a raise, a GOP run government that can only see failure and consider teachers "lazy" and "incompetent" and only motivated when pitted against each other for a bonus based on a arbitrary tests.
So Mr. Daugaard, if you want to help our schools with this recruitment problem, don't go to Manpower Inc. to solve it. There are a few simple things you can do.
1.) Stop bashing teachers and come out with much more supportive rhetoric.
2.) Stop trying to push dividing bills supported by ALEC but not supported by a single school district (except maybe Superintendents that reside in Mitchell).
3.) Start focusing on helping the biggest engine of job growth and work force supply chain: education, instead of running to other states that are more willing to support education to find workers.
4.) Do as you promised when you first ran for governor and make education funding a real priority. Start by working really hard to get back to the education level before you decimated it.
5.) Finally, go to teachers first before you push education agenda. Be open and up front that you no nothing about education and that you will try and get as much honest feedback and listen to them and not some national party group telling you what to do.
6.) Look for real ways to help students that want to go into teaching with the funding of education that is not based on area of study, but that is built on willingness to stay in South Dakota and teach at some of the smaller districts in our state.
Just some helpful suggestions that would allow the administration and the GOP to turn their image around when it comes to supporting education, if they care about their image.