Tuesday, February 24, 2015

When a Win Is a Loss

The Senate voted today on SB 189, a bill that would provide vouchers without using the word vouchers.  The vote ended up 23-12.  While this is not a surprise that the Senate would focus first on means to reduce access to education funding for public students, this plan has costs that will impact, not only schools, but other departments in Pierre without clarifying exactly how those funds will be met.

Senator Bernie Hunoff (D-Yankton) posted this today from Pierre on Facebook:
Here's a little good news from the Senate floor today. You may not agree, but I'm happy that we l) blocked further video lottery expansion until we do a study to determine the social impacts, 2) funded a need-based scholarship program that we started in 2010 but has been poorly funded (though the amount remains to be decided) and 3) established a grants program for low-income families who want to send their kids to private schools (it sitll needs House approval).
Unfortunately, the number 3 of his post is not a win for public education.  This "win" is clearly a loss for public education.  Mr. Hunhoff is now trying to defend his "win."  He responds to one post:
Bernie Hunhoff K-12 Paul --- I guess you could argue that every private student costs the school money, but you could also figure that the private school students save money because we need about 8% fewer teachers and classrooms. I just don't see it as one against the other. Can't we be for all the students, private and public? Why the competition? And if it's ok for higher ed, then why not for K-12? 
There are a lot of issues with this line of reasoning.  First, not every school will receive a benefit in students leaving for private schools; however, they will have to still pay for the teacher that is teaching the rest of the students that could not leave or chose not to leave.  Let say that 10 students students in the Lennox district choose to drive 20 miles everyday to go to Sioux Falls for private education.  Now the Lennox school district will receive around $47,000 less in funds since they are no longer enrolled.  Then figure in that the four million causes a reduction in funding of around $30 per student.  The district has over 1000 students and the $30 reduction would be another $30,000 in the district.  That puts the total costs to just Lennox schools at over $77,000.  

The fight now shifts over to the House.  We need to explain to the people in Pierre that may still support public education how this will hurt all the public students.  We need to show them the error in thinking that this is some how actually good for the public students.  


  1. I believe something along the lines of tax-payer subsidized total privatization of the state's K-12 education system will be one major recommendation of the Governor's "blue ribbon panel". This voucher is simply a precursor.

  2. That is part of my worry. It did appear that Daugaard actually opposed this bill, but I figured it was to not allow any money to go to any type of education and then he could use it to recruit workers from out of state.