Four Legislators listened to teachers yesterday, and four was enough. Senator Al Novstrup brought his loathing of public school teachers to Senate Education yesterday in the form of Senate Bill 187, his proposal to end the due process right of continuing contract for all teachers in South Dakota. Novstrup's was another GOP local-control sham. SB 187 wouldn't put Novstrup's fingerprints on the gun; it would simply hand the gun to local school boards and let them opt out of continuing contract. Given that the powerful Sioux Falls School Board wouldn't oppose this bad bill, teachers everywhere should fear for their due process rights.
Senator Novstrup's bill has nothing to do with improving education; if anything, continuing contract produces correlates with better educational outcomes. SB 187 comes from ideology, not practical ideas for helping teachers help your kids learn more.
Fortunately, Senator Novstrup found himself alone at the mic yesterday to promote his bad idea. SDEA sent a rep to Senate Education testify against SB 187. Watertown teacher Steve O'Brien came to explain the importance of continuing contract. Two teachers-turned-legislators, Rep. Paula Hawks and Sen. Chuck Welke, took time out of their busy legislative schedules to urge their colleagues to vote this bill down.
The bad news is that, with every educator's voice in the room saying, "Don't do it!" three Republican senators (Ryan Maher, Tim Rave, and Phil Jensen) still ignored the experts and voted to do it. The good news is that, this time, good sense had them outnumbered. Three other Republicans (Deb Soholt, Bruce Rampleberg, and J. Mark Johnston) joined one Democrat (Angie Buhl) in voting SB 187 down.
Fellow educators and sensible senators, thank for your votes to protect what little labor protection South Dakota teachers have.