Tuesday, August 5, 2014

There Is No More Time For Excuses For Ignoring Teacher Shortage

A recent write-up from Cory Heidelberger at Madville Times points to a Facebook post showing just how desperate schools are when it comes to finding staff to teacher our students.  
Tripp-Delmont School District needs a 7-12 math teacher. The salary is negotiable and we are offering a signing bonus of $2,500. If you know anyone who knows anyone now is the time to put out the message. New grads.....retired......been at home and ready to come back to teach--doesn't matter. I just need someone who loves math and kids. If you know of anyone, please have them contact Sherry Hansen, Business Manager, or me at 605-935-6766 [Gail Swenson, Facebook post, 2014.08.02].
The Tripp-Delmont school about a 30 minute drive from Mitchell.  If you have a passion to help students and a math background, you could really help out.  School starts on August 19, and if you have ever wanted to make a real difference for children out there, then please call.

Gail Swenson, Superintendent of Tripp-Delmont writes in a comment on Madville Times:
Thanks for highlighting our situation at Tripp-Delmont; unfortunately, it is a story being repeated in schools across our state. Parents and local advocates need to be flooding their Representatives' email with their concerns about this teacher shortage crisis. The quality of education in South Dakota--and your local school--is directly related to quality instruction from effective teachers. When we add the pressures of testing, numerous preparations and other requirements to our teachers, it's not surprising that young people aren't drawn to the profession and many veteran teachers are counting their days to retirement. The Ed Professors in our SD Universities have been very sympathetic, but the few graduates we have in areas such as math, special education and music are hired quickly--and many of those grads walk across our borders for $10-$15K more in starting salary and fewer preparations in neighboring states. I know that some people get tired of listening to the issue of teacher pay. We interviewed one candidate who wanted to return to education after spending a few years in business finance. The candidate would have been a great addition to our staff and offered "real world" applications to the math curriculum. Unfortunately, I could not match the salary or benefits another business offered this candidate--even with going off our schedule and adding a hiring bonus. Salary matters. So we are two weeks from the first day of school and I'm not sleeping very well. I'm open to suggestions...
The sad thing is that the superintendent has to resort to Facebook to serve the needs of hers and our students.  I have seen a real crises coming for a while now.  There are a lot of teachers in South Dakota approaching the retirement age.  That is nothing new.  The problem is that there are not enough coming in to replace them.  What has Governor Daugaard and many in the South Dakota GOP done about it?  Bury their heads in the sand.  This year Republicans and Democrats proposed HCR 1002 to begin the process of addressing the  problem.  

You might be thinking that this problem only exists in small schools.  My school is fine, why should I care about some other school district?  They are not my children.  To quote John Stewart, "What the f*** is wrong with you?"  Secondly, every type of school district is having a tough time dealing with the shortage issue.  Soon, this will become your child's problem, your granddaughter may be without a teacher when school starts, your nephew will have no one to teach them chemistry.

What can be done?  We need to find someone willing to in Pierre to give the schools the resources and support.  That is not Governor Daugaard.  He has done so much to batter and bruise the teaching field.  There is such a lack of respect that he shows for those in the teaching profession.  You can look at all the moves against proposals done to reduce funding for education.  You can look at all the comments about how teachers have been failing students.  You can begin by getting new leadership in Pierre.

You can also speak out to the 27 Representatives and Senators that voted against HCR 1002.  Don't let them get by saying that the resolution was too vague, that they don't know where the money will come from, that they simply are not sure what to do.  That is why they were elected.  They need to make the hard choices for the sake of our students.  Below, I will include the names and district of all the legislative members that voted against the resolution.  

You can vote against any candidate that doesn't support education.  Vote against each one of the people that choose to ignore education.  If no one is running against them and if you are a registered Democrat and are able to stand up against these people unwilling to deal with a real crises facing our state, then run against them on the platform of education.  It will give you a strong base and will make a difference.

Finally, you can help out the Nighthawks of Tripp-Delmont by helping them find a teacher for the students.  It doesn't matter if the students are in Tripp-Delmont, Lennox, Sioux Falls, or Rapid City, they are all our students.  Teaching is one of the hardest but most rewarding experiences out there.  They really could use your support.

House members that voted against the resolution:
Anderson (David)- Hudson (Currently unopposed)
Bolin (Jim)- Canton (Currently unopposed)
Conzet (Kristen)- Rapid City (Opposed by Ritchie Nordstrom)
Feickert (Dennis)- Aberdeen (Currently unopposed)
Greenfield (Brock)- Clark (Running for Senate- opposed by Chuck Welke)
Haggar (Don)- Sioux Falls (Opposed by Jo Hausman and James Wrigg)
Haggar (Jenna)- Sioux Falls (Running for Senate-Opposed by Michael Schultz)
Kaiser (Don)- Aberdeen (Opposed by Burton Elliot and Patrick Hale)
Kopp (Don)- Rapid City (Not Running)
Latterell (Isaac)- Tea (Opposed by Richard Schriever)
May (Elizabeth)- Kyle (Opposed by Kevin Killer and Anna Takes the Shield)
Novstrup (David)- Aberdeen (Running for Senate- opposed by Mark Remily)
Olson (Betty)- Praire City (Running for Senate- opposed by Oren Lemeister)
Qualm (Lee)- Platte (Opposed by Julie Bartling and Carrie Ackerman-Rice)
Stalzer (Jim)- Sioux Falls (Opposed by Darryl Solberg and Jim Larson)
Steele (Manny)- Sioux Falls (Not running)
Gosch (Brian)- Rapid City (Opposed by Ritchie Nordstrom and Brett Monson, Ind.)

Senators that voted against the resolution:
Curd (Blake)- Sioux Falls (Opposed by Jim Sanden)
Ewing (Bob)- Spearfish (Running unopposed)
Heineman (Phyllis)- Sioux Falls (Opposed by Reynold Nesiba)
Holien (Reid)- Watertown (Opposed by Alanna Silvas)
Jensen (Phil)- Rapid City (Opposed by Robin Page)
Jones (Chuck)- Flandreau (Opposed by Scott Parsley)
Kirkeby (Mark)- Rapid City (Not running)
Krebs (Shantel)- Sioux Falls (Running for Secretary of State- opposed by Angela Schultz, Democratic Party; and Lori Stacey, Constitution Party)
Lederman (Dan) Dakota Dunes (Opposed by Ann Tornberg)
Maher (Ryan)- Isabel (Not running)
Monroe (Jeff)- Pierre (Opposed by Ruth Rehn)
Novstrup (Al)- Aberdeen (Running in the House, opposed by Burt Elliot and Pat Hale)
Omdahl (David)- Sioux Falls (Opposed by Tom Cool)
Otten (Ernie)- Tea (Opposed by Mel Zelmer)
Peters (Deb)- Hartford (Currently without an opponent)
Rave (Tim)- Baltic (Opposed by Bill Laird)
Vehle (Mike)- Mitchell (Currently without an opponent)
White (Jim)- Huron (Opposed by Darrell Raschke)

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