Wednesday, January 28, 2015

The Unbearable Lightness Of Being Paid To Teach In South Dakota

Why Is This Man Laughing?
(photo from the Sioux Falls Argus Leader)
      Protestations that the state is not the driving force in teacher salaries in South Dakota notwithstanding, Governor Dennis Daugaard has dropped the leadership ball when it comes to setting the tone for public support of education in this state.  When he noted the labor shortage that was holding back economic development, he made it the state's business to right the problem with a series of "workforce summits" that didn't simply pass the buck to localities. When he noted that our roads and bridges are in tough shape, he didn't tell local governments that it was up to them to fix their own highways.  He put together a statewide plan to get the job done.  But now that everybody understands that glaringly uncompetitive pay in South Dakota has ushered in a serious shortage of teachers in our state, Daugaard's reaction is to call the state's responsibility "indirect" and put the burden for teacher pay levels on local districts.  
     Daugaard's buck-passing reaction shows both a lack of leadership and concern.  The fact is that in real dollars and on a per pupil basis, South Dakota's state support of education is more than 8% lower than it was in 2008. Compared to our surrounding states, South Dakota has been a piker, indeed.  All but Montana (which is just 2% lower) have shown real dollar increases since '08 and probably not
SD--Last In The Region . . .
. . . Again
(graphic from
coincidentally have significantly higher teacher salaries to show for their added commitments. Considering that the state's public school enrollment numbers have increased by about 10,000 students between '08 and '14, that 8% reduction in South Dakota's support for education affects even more families than ever.  It needs to be restored.  
     Before we can buy Governor Daugaard's claim about the state not bearing any direct responsibility for low teacher salaries, we should expect him to bring state spending on education to the level that it was less than a decade ago. This would at least show a good faith effort at maintaining a competitive balance with our adjoining neighbor states. We can not keep losing ground in this contest, as I believe that the incipient teacher shortage problem will morph into a crisis. Considering that he had no compunction about seriously raising taxes in order to address our roadway deterioration needs, I think Daugaard can make just as compelling a case to raise taxes in order to support what should be our most prized asset--public education.  
     If the Governor really cares, which I'm beginning to seriously doubt, he can make the rest of us care.  
Never Mind The Embarrassment.
What Do We Do About The Teacher Shortage?
(graphic from The Washington Post)


  1. Let's face facts: GDD doesn't give a GGD [expletives initialed].

  2. I appreciate the civility, Ms. Fisher. Might we dub this "the mystery of the missing skipper?"

  3. There needs to be a school funding law suit. The Ag-land tax committee is try to save Ag from the very thing that has happened to many school districts in SD. The gross disparity in taxation is certainly not a "local problem". If taxation was uniform and equal as the constitution requires, then maybe funding problems would be a local matter however, as long as the State controls the money and shifts money away from some to give to others, and continues leaving millions of dollars "outside" the formula, all comments from elected officials are pure hypocrisy. Does it make sense to anyone else that Rapid city pays more than Sioux Falls in capital outlay taxes despite the fact that Sioux Falls is over fifty percent larger than Rapid City in number of students ?

    Rick Kriebel