Fred Deutsch, former Watertown school board member and current Republican candidate for District 4 House, drops by the Madville Times to offer a bad news/good news update on his campaign. Deutsch says the South Dakota Education Association has not endorsed him. But, says, Deutsch, SDEA didn't endorse anyone else for District 4 House, either. Why no SDEA endorsement for the obvious choices for shaking up the anti-education Republcian majority, DemocratsÂ Kathy TylerÂ andÂ Jim Peterson, or the other Republican, Jim Gilkerson?
The good news was the interviews were so good they couldn't decide who to endorse and opted not to endorse anyone. Maybe an easy way out of a tough choice for SDEA, but as I was told "consider it a feather in your cap as a Republican." I am hopeful I can work both within the caucus and across the aisle to develop well-supported and meaningful education legislation [Fred Deutsch, comment at 18:17, Madville Times, October 5, 2012].
One reason Deutsch was able to stave off an SDEA endorsement of his Democratic challengers was his willingness to oppose Referred Law 16, the Governor's really bad education "reform" plan. I asked Deutsch to clarify his position on the bill, and he graciously replied:
...frankly, some aspects of the bill I liked; others, however, I thought were counter-productive for our state. Taken as a whole, the negatives of the bill out-weight the benefits, IMO. I believe we can do better and I plan to vote no on RL 16. If elected, Iâ€™ll work to pass a better, more meaningful and common-sense education improvement billÂ [Fred Deutsch,Â comment at 18:07,Â Madville Times, October 5, 2012].
There you go: at least three Republicans (also Rep. Jim Bolin, Rep. Stace Nelson... any others*?) on the November ballot telling you to vote No on Referred Law 16. Russ Olson, care to catch the wave and abandon a policy doomed to fail?
Of course, Kathy Tyler is even more frank in her rejection of Referred Law 16 (a.k.a. House Bill 1234):
This year the governor told schools they were spending too much money and not doing a good enough job. And then came HB1234â€”a bill to fix lagging test scores. The bill created a scholarship program; gave $2500 to math and science teachers; established merit pay criteria for teachers; established uniform staff evaluation procedures; and removed continuing contract. It does sound like a pretty good deal, except there is very little local control; research shows merit pay does not work; math and science teachers arenâ€™t the only teachers deserving bonus pay; teachers really donâ€™t want to have to worry about if theyâ€™ve hurt someoneâ€™s feelings and are going to lose their jobs; and many schools have already excellent evaluation systems.
But in all of that, not one cent was allocated to restore funding cuts to education. State law requires educational funding to be increased by 3% per year or the rate of inflation,whichever is less. South Dakota has not followed that mandate for the past three years.
Hereâ€™s what I see should be done by the Legislature:
- Put education first. Restore all monies to the education funding formula so we can get our counselors, teachers, and programs back.
- Remove one time fundingâ€”categorical aid as itâ€™s known. Districts need a consistent funding source so budgeting can be done adequately. Fund the formula; donâ€™t give us leftovers.
- The Charlotte Danielson evaluation model that the state is requiring demands more time from administrators; be sure itâ€™s funded properly.
- Evaluate teacher preparation programs at state colleges to be sure they are adequately preparing students for the classroom.
- Establish a teacher mentoring program to be sure that first and second year teachers succeed in their new profession.
- Create a bipartisan educational task force to look at South Dakotaâ€™s educational system, including funding. If we want good schools and teachers, we must be willing to pay for them [Kathy Tyler, "Thoughts on Education in South Dakota," campaign website, July 16, 2012].
Elsewhere on the same page, Tyler says she's "Iâ€™m totally against HB1234 and the way schools and teachers have been treated the past three legislative sessions is horrendous."
Tyler rejects RL16, which SDEA put on the ballot, without qualification. Tyler proposes clear policy alternatives that align with what SDEA fought for during the 2012 Legislative session. Tyler makes clear her disgust with Pierre's ill treatment of teachers and schools and promises to fight for SDEA's constituents. If SDEA is hearing anything of comparable passion from Deutsch, Peterson, or Gilkerson, I'd like to see it. Absent that, Tyler clearly deserves SDEA's endorsement. She has mine!
*Update 11:40 MDT: The three Republicans I named above—Deutsch, Bolin, and Nelson—have said on the record that they are voting against Referred Law 16 this fall. Other Republicans voted against HB 1234 last winter (see final Senate and House roll calls): how many of them are on the record saying they'll vote against it again on the November ballot? I welcome links to public statements to that effect below!