A new survey finds school superintendents across South Dakota telling ostrichian Republican legislators, "No, really: South Dakota is short on teachers!"

The survey, prepared by USD professor Mark Baron in collaboration with the Associated School Boards and the School Administrators of South Dakota, finds South Dakota schools struggling to fill openings with qualified teachers. The survey focuses on superintendent perceptions of the South Dakota teacher pool over the last three years, since the beginning of Governor Daugaard's fiscal and philosophical war on education.

The key data, based on responses from 119 school districts with administrators averaging over ten years of experience in South Dakota schools:

  1. 78% of superintendents say there aren't enough applicants in the teacher labor pool.
  2. The elementary teaching pool is apparently still in decent shape: only 27% of superintendents see a shortage in that area.
  3. 65% see a shortage of middle school teaching applicants.
  4. 86% see a shortage of high school teachers.
  5. We appear to still have plenty of PE/Health and Social Studies teachers, but we're short in every other field:
Subject Percent of supts. saying applicant pool adequate Percent of supts saying applicant pool inadequate
Health/PE 30.4 17.4
Social Studies 27.4 34.5
Arts 4.6 66.2
English 10.3 80.4
Special Ed 4.2 81.9
Math 1.0 82.1
Career/Tech 1.2 84.0
World Lang. 1.6 84.1
Science 2.2 86.8
  1. 17% of South Dakota schools failed to fill at least one open teaching position.
  2. 70% of superintendents say they had to fill openings with applicants who were less qualified than desired.
  3. 92% say it has become harder to recruit qualified applicants over the last three years.
  4. The superintendents say the solution to the teacher shortage isn't magic; it's just money. In response to an open-ended question about how South Dakota could increase the size and quality of the teacher applicant pool, the four most frequently offered suggestions were to increase pay and benefits, enhance state funding, make salary competitive with neighboring states, and assist teachers with educational costs. (Of those four issues, Governor Daugaard has only gestured toward offering insufficient tuition assistance to teachers in training.)
  5. 70% of superintendents say that non-retiring teachers have left their schools at least in part because of low pay.

Governor Dennis Daugaard has given top priority to making South Dakota a great place to business. He has done little to make South Dakota a great place to teach. Our K-12 school superintendents can attest to the impact of the policy failure on their dwindling teacher applicant pool.