Mr. Larson properly hammers Governor Dennis Daugaard for creating the crisis in career and technical education. Larson points to a campaign video by the Governor on the topic, the first sentence of which explains the whole problem:
"South Dakota needs to spend time and effort preparing its young people for the world of work," says Governor Daugaard. Time, effort, but no mention of money... at least not of the money he took away from the schools:
As school districts have struggled with budget constraints, one means that they've used to manage their expenses is to reduce some of the electives that our students have available in high school, and some of these electives unfortunately are career and technical education opportunities, those welding classes, those ag classes, those health ed and engineering classes that give students elective course opportunities that can also be explorations of potential careers. And it costs too much money to have every one of these high schools offer these career opportunities [Dennis Daugaard, campaign video, 2014.05.09].
That's odd: maybe not every one, but a lot more of these high schools offered these career opportunities, programs that local school boards decided were as vital for their students as English, math, science, and history, before the Janklow-Rounds-Daugaard regime applied twenty years of budget pressure to strangle the schools. "It costs too much" is not an objective statement of fact; it is a value judgment in which Bill Janklow, Mike Rounds, and Dennis Daugaard have said, "We don't want to spend what it takes to provide every student with good in-house career and technical education."
But in rides Dennis to the rescue, like the mining companies contaminating the water supply, then rolling in to town with trucks of bottled water:
So it made sense to me that we try to regionalize the offerings and find a high school in every region of the state that could create a very good career and technical education package of classes and offer it not just to that school district but to all surrounding school districts as well.
So just last February the state utilized Future Funds to grant over $8 million in grants to a whole array of school districts around every region of the state to create programs and to reinvigorate programs in electronics, in machining, in the building trades, in the health care industry, in accounting [Daugaard, 2014.05.09].
Let me remind the Governor what is wrong with that statement:
- Future Funds: in other words, one-time money. When Democrats ask the Governor to use surpluses (surpli!) from other budget lines to give education a boost, he insists that we can't give schools false hope by handing them one-time money. But when he wants to make up for damage his budget cuts caused, he has no problem taking money from his economic development slush fund and dropping it, one time, on the school districts.
- The governors' budget cuts have replaced a first-class vocational education system with a second-class vocational education system. Twelve favored schools get in-house technical education. Students in surrounding school districts get to take those classes, but only if they rearrange their schedule to bus over to those tech-ed centers or take the classes online. In either situation, the remote students get less of an education. It's better than nothing, but if I'm a parent with a practical choice of school districts, I send my child to the school that offers more on-site opportunities.
- Governor Daugaard is taking steps to make up for the damage he did to career and technical education, but as Mr. Larson points out, schools have cut much more than vocational classes to survive 20 years of gubernatorial miserliness:
YOU HAVE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME!!!! Those extensive "budget constraints" were caused by his budget! He is the one that has de-invested in education. I am blessed to be in a district that offers great technical/career education programs which include agriculture, wood technical, art programs, health programs; along with some great teachers in foreign languages, math, chemistry, English, and social studies. We made it through the cuts beat up, but thanks to some wonderful administrators and school board members we got through it but had to close an elementary school to do so.
Be honest with the people Governor. You see students as a tool for your business friends, and beyond that you would rather not have to deal with "those" teacher people [Michael Larson, "Daugaard Creates Career and Tech Crisis and Then Campaigns on It," Taking a Left Turn in South Dakota, 2014.05.23].
If Dennis Daugaard really wanted to do education a favor, he wouldn't have waited until re-election year to dole out one-time favors to a handful of lucky school districts for one corporate-favored slice of the curriculum. He'd have put forward the time, effort, and money to fund quality education in all subjects and all schools in 2011.