The laggardly "Bill Clay" lurches up from his couch to blog Senator Todd Schlekeway's crackerbarrel commentary on HB 1234, the Governor's package of destructive education reforms. Senator Schlekeway (R-11/Sioux Falls) agrees with me and thousands of other South Dakotans that we should replace HB 1234's unproven/disproven policies with a summer task force to study K-12 education. The Senator tried and failed to amend HB 1234 to cut the crap and convene a task force to study the following four issues:
- Reforms solutions that will sustain best practices to improve student achievement;
- The advantages and disadvantages of merit pay systems and other initiatives designed to provide increased compensation for teachers;
- The demographics within South Dakota for hard-to-fill teaching positions, the causes and effects of those positions, and solutions to recruit, retain, and train teachers in high-need areas; and
- Reforms that examine continuing contract status.
Schlekeway's GOP leadership, alas, appears committed to rejecting good sense in favor of its anti-public education ideological agenda.
DWC says Sen. Schlekeway told a Sioux Falls crackerbarrel audience Saturday that the reason for his amendment is simple: HB 1234 currently has the support of almost none of its stakeholders:
...I'm trying to build support for the bill. I'm talking about ten months. There is no appropriation in HB 1234. So why are we passing something for the sake of passing something? In testimony the school administrators were opposed to the bill and they said four out of one-hundred-thirty-three administrators in the state support it. Four. You do the math on that. My intention with the task force and I'm skeptical of task forces sometimes also but I'm trying to garner more support. This bill has changed positively throughout the session but we have five days left... And will everyone support it at the end of the day? No, but we would get more stakeholders on board. School boards and administrators and then come back next year when by the way the appropriation is slated to take place... The reason I crafted the amendment (that kept critical needs scholarship but eliminates rest of HB 1234 in favor of an advisory council - amendment failed 5-2) is because it should have more support from those it impacts the most [emphasis mine; Sen. Todd Schlekeway, crackerbarrel, Sioux Falls, SD, 2012.02.25, quoted by a pseudonymous blogger, "Leadership Requires Consensus Building," Dakota War College, 2012.02.27].
Four out of 133 administrators support HB 1234. 3% support... good grief, that's margin of error in most surveys.
Sen. Schlekeway is right: passing a bill just to say we passed a bill, without providing evidence that it will work, without committing money to make it work, is bad policy. Let us hope Sen. Schlekeway brings this message to the Senate floor today and persuades his colleagues to follow the evidence and the popular will and stop HB 1234.