|How We Stack Up In Spending|
No. 41, To Be Exact, And Dead Last In Our Region
(source: The U.S Census Bureau, 2014)
For one thing, the three questions he poses are either irrelvant or academic. Daugaard wants to know where "shortages are occurring," which shows that he hasn't been listening. As Brookings School Superintendent Roger DeGroot told the legislative planning committee last Summer, geographically-specific shortages aren't "the case anymore." Daugaard also wants to know why many school reserve funds are increasing, without specifiying which districts he's targeting and by how much those reserves are going up. In any event, given that South Dakota has to come up with around $90 million to raise our 9,000+ teacher salaries to levels that are still slightly behind the average of our bordering neighbors, there's no way that increasing district reserves could be whittled down to match that number.
And for another, while we're on the matter of salaries, Daugaard also has it wrong that there are twelve other states that spend less per pupil yet pay higher salaries. The number of states that spend less per pupil is nine, per the U.S. Census Bureau's most recent data, published last Spring. That point isn't of much relevance anyway, as national comparisons are less meaningful than regional ones. And when it comes to regional comparisons, South Dakota is dead last among our bordering neighbors, and by a mile. On per-pupil spending, we're 41st, way behind Montana at 30th, and much further behind the rest, which rank between 19th and 25th in per pupil spending, the only exception being Wyoming, which ranks an astounding 5th. And when it comes to salaries, South Dakota's feeble $39,000/year average is so far behind the rest of our competing neighbors that I'm surprised anybody in this part of the United States chooses to teach
Daugaard needs a task force to study the obvious like we all need a hole-in-the-head. My good friend Cory Heidelberger over at Madville Times cheekily lists at least 10 education-financing "task forces" that South Dakota has launched in the past 17 years and they've accomplished zip. The net result is this crisis level of teacher shortages. What Daugaard is putting off until next year is the tough decision on where to find the bucks to bring our teacher salaries into a competitive range. This task force idea is a timid response to a situation that demands resolute vision and action. Daugaard's cautious, caretaking ways won't cut it. We don't need more information, we need a plan.
What We Pay Our Teachers
Daugaard Needs A Task Force To Figure Out There's A Problem?
(graphic from The Washington Post)