Senate Bill 233, the Critical Teaching Needs Scholarship Program, comes up for its first hearing this morning before Senate Education. If you followed South Dakota education policy last year, SB 233 should sound familiar:

Last fall, voters overwhelming rejected comprehensive education reform, but one element of Referred Law 16 is making a comeback.

Senator Tim Rave is behind this plan. He says Senate Bill 233 resurrects the good part of Referred Law 16 voters rejected. It would offer scholarships to South Dakota college students who promise to teach in areas of need [Peggy Moyer, "Scholarships for 'Critical Need' Teachers Considered," KELOLand.com, 2013.02.04].

Reporter Moyer confuses "doing a lot of stuff" with "comprehensive." But Senator Rave makes the most accurate statement I've heard from a Republican on education this session: this new-teacher scholarship was "the good part" of RL 16... as in the only good part. And even there, "good" is a relative term, given that student savings on tuition will be less than the purchasing power they lose by giving up the much higher teaching wages available in any adjoining state.

Unlike last year, Senator Rave at least has the guts to fund the scholarship. SB 233 would make an initial appropriation of five million dollars (wait: didn't Governor Daugaard already promise that money to some French cheese company?).

He's going to need that five million: according to the data we send the feds, here are the areas where South Dakota faces teacher shortages:

  • Art (Kindergarten - Grade 12)
  • Career and Technical Education (Grades 7 - 12)
  • English as a New Language (Kindergarten - Grade 12)
  • Health (Kindergarten - Grade 12)
  • Language Arts (Grades 7 - 12)
  • Mathematics (Grades 7 - 12)
  • Music (Kindergarten – Grade 12)
  • Physical Education (Kindergarten – Grade 12)
  • Science (Grades 7 - 12)
  • Social Science (Grades 7 - 12)
  • Special Education (Kindergarten - Grade 12)
  • Speech Pathologists
  • World Languages (Kindergarten - Grade 12)

Uff da: looks like Senator Rave will be funding two years of college education for darn near everybody looking to teach junior high or high school in South Dakota, including French teachers. I hope five million will be enough.