Governor Dennis Daugaard signed into law the critical needs teacher scholarship program Wednesday. Salvaged from the wreck of his failed 2012 education reform package, Senate Bill 233 allocates $1.5 million to pay two years of tuition and fees for college students who agree to stick around and teach in South Dakota's K-12 system for five years. At Black Hills State University, that currently equals a cash value of $14,640.

How nice. Now, students, let's see if signing up for this program makes financial sense:

State Average teaching salary Per-capita state taxation Salary in pocket after state tax Cost of living (US avg = 100) Adjusted post-tax salary power Additional purchasing power from teaching here instead of SD
IA 51528 3660 47868 96.1 $49,811 $13,876
MN 56268 4727 51541 104.4 $49,369 $13,435
MT 49999 2089 47910 102.1 $46,925 $10,990
ND 47344 3733 43611 102.1 $42,714 $6,780
NE 48931 3853 45078 94.1 $47,904 $11,970
SD 39580 3035 36545 101.7 $35,934 $0
WY 57920 3721 54199 100 $54,199 $18,265

This table uses the NEA's current average teacher salary data rather than average starting salary, for which I'm not finding updated data. So pending updates from eager readers, assume average salary is a reasonable proxy for the lower starting salaries the new teachers taking advantage of SB 233 will get. The state taxation and cost of living data come from the Governor's Office of Economic Development.

By choosing to stay in South Dakota for five years rather than taking their teaching skills to any neighboring state, students will sacrifice between $33,900 (in North Dakota) and $91,300 (in Wyoming) in real purchasing power. Even if they plunk their $14,640 in tuition savings in the bank immediately to start earning interest, after five years, SB 233 scholarship recipients will find their five-year stint in South Dakota putting them in worse financial shape than if they had simply paid their own tuition and then gone straight out of state, where they would earn enough extra income to pay off that added student debt in two years or less.

Nice try, Dennis. But the good teachers who understand basic math won't stick around for this deal.