In a Facebook post, Rep. Rev. Steve Hickey (R-9/Sioux Falls) got me thinking about the possible impact of the Chicago teachers' strike on the campaign to overturn Governor Dennis Daugaard's terrible, horrible, no-good education reform law (Referred Law 16 on our November ballot). Chicago and South Dakota are worlds apart in labor policy, but Chicago teachers are striking over less than the harm Referred Law 16 would do to our schools.

The two major sticking points that have driven Chicago teachers to the picket line are a teacher recall policy and test-based teacher evaluations. The recall policy was part of a deal the Chicago Teachers Union thought they had with Chicago Public Schools: the union agreed to accept longer working days, and CPS agreed to rehire 500 teachers who'd been laid off. Mayor Rahm Emanuel is now backing away from CPS's side of that deal. Nothing in Governor Daugaard's education plan aligns with this recall plan.

Where Governor Daugaard's plan does find some parallel in what's got Chicago teachers hot is a new teacher evaluation system promoted by Chicago's own President Barack Obama. The rating system will count student test scores as 30% of every teacher's evaluation.

At a downtown rally Monday, Rick Sawicki, a seventh- grade teacher at Evergreen Middle School, said it's unfair to tie a teacher's evaluation to student performance. He compared it to a coach not being able to pick the members of his team but still being evaluated on how they do on the field.

"There are a lot of factors that go into a child's education that is not reflected in test scores," he said. "Children are more to me than their test scores" [Bill Ruthhart and Diane Rado, "Job Security at Heart of Two Stumbling Blocks," Chicago Tribune, September 11, 2012].

Basing 30% of their evaluation on bubble tests is bad enough to drive Chicago teachers to the streets. Governor Daugaard would impose a statewide teacher evaluation system that bases 50% of teachers' ratings on bubble tests. I wouldn't blame any teacher for striking over such bad policy.

But anyone laboring under the illusion that South Dakota's teacher union exercises anything like the power of the Chicago Teachers Union needs a reality check. South Dakota law prohibits teachers from striking. South Dakota's teacher union has nothing like the power of unions elsewhere. For example, here in Spearfish, my school board just finalized our contract for this year. The local union argued for more benefits but could not reach an agreement with the board. The board thus wrote the contract itself and imposed it unilaterally. There will be no strike; we'll just keep teaching and send some polite folks to say "Please? Pretty please?" next spring. Those who find the working conditions imposed from above unacceptable will simply seek other employment.

The same will happen if voters allow Governor Daugaard's Referred Law 16 to stand. South Dakota teachers cannot and will not strike. They'll just stop working in South Dakota schools for good and take their talents to other economic sectors or, worse, to other states.

The Chicago teachers' strike highlights just one toxic tendril, the reliance on standardized tests to evaluate teachers, of Governor Daugaard's counterproductive Referred Law 16. Whatever the outcome in Chicago, South Dakota has plenty of its own reasons to reject Governor Daugaard's bad ideas for our schools.