Governor Dennis Daugaard has a rotten sense of political theater. He has before him House Bill 1234, his signature piece of legislation for the 2012 session. He toured the state, twisted arms, and got a big win. It's time for a victory dance, right?
Call the photographer, Dennis! Line up the proud supporters and beneficiaries of HB 1234. Surround yourself with smiling teachers and prospective teachers, all with merit pay and scholarship dollar signs dancing in their eyes. Crowd in some principals and superintendents and school boards all flush with freedom from continuing contract. Line up some friendly parents, squeeze in some of their cute little kids who will now thrive in the education system you just fixed!
But the Governor misses the moment completely:
Wow. Witnessing the signing of this historic piece of legislation is not one practicing teacher, not one member of the public at large whose input supposedly turned HB 1234 from the Governor's plan into "the people's plan." To mark the occasion, Governor Daugaard surrounds himself with six bureaucrats: three members of his inner circle, three members of his Department of Education, none of whom have done much recent work in the classrooms this bill will affect.
Now granted, we teachers and our students were all busy when the Governor signed this bill this morning. My kids and I were hip deep in reflexive verbs. But dang, man! He's the Governor! If he'd wanted to, he could have held a signing ceremony this evening so the Pierre PTA could attend. He could have bopped over to Huron last weekend during the Girls State B Basketball Tournament, where he surely could have rounded up some approving teachers and administrators for a signing ceremony at center court.
Yet the Governor chooses this picture to hang over the public mantel as our memento of his biggest achievement in the 2012 Legislature. Maybe he didn't intend it, but this photo shows exactly whose bill HB 1234 really is.
If you're not in the picture... you're not in the picture.