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Daugaard Education Reforms: Beck Wants Counterplans? I’ll Give You Six…

Last updated on 2012.12.11

Randall Beck is jerking my chain. He thinks Governor Daugaard gets points for effort on his counterproductive merit-bonus plan, and teachers shouldn't complain unless they can offer a counterproposal:

Daugaard's plan may be flat wrong on some points. But it's something. Until the teachers, administrators and school boards come to the table with ideas of their own, let's at least listen -- and join in the discussion [Randall Beck, "Listen and Offer Ideas about Education," that Sioux Falls paper, 2012.01.29].

In a way, the governor is saying, "I want to cut off your arm." Mr. Beck is saying that I have to propose cutting off another limb or organ instead in order to make the point that cutting off my arm will make things worse. The Governor and Mr. Beck are both wrong.

But, if we have to offer counterproposals to be allowed into this discussion, how about these six? Give me $15 million, and I would:

  1. Increase the base salary for all 9300 of our teachers by $1600. We'd still be thousands of dollars behind our neighbors, but it's a start. And tell school boards to cowboy up and use existing statute to fire the ones who aren't performing well. OR...
  2. Establish a bonus structure for specific professional activities proven by research to improve student performance. Give $250 to each teacher who carries out one of those activities. Each additional activity gets the teacher an additional $250. Ten activities total, $2500 possible each year for each teacher who can jump through all those hoops. If those activities all improve performance, then we should reward every teacher who's willing to do them. ($2500 max means $15 million covers 6000 teachers, under two thirds of the state K-12 teacher corps.) OR...
  3. Put it back in K-12 general funds to allow schools to hire back 375 of the positions they had to cut because of the FY2012 budget cuts. More people on the job mean more learning opportunities for students. OR...
  4. Hire 375 elementary foreign language teachers and start teaching foreign language in every district in kindergarten. Foreign language improves students' native language performance. OR...
  5. Overhaul the SDSU teacher education program to model Finland's highly selective admissions and rigorous academic requirements. Give graduates of that program who stay and teach in South Dakota a $5000 bonus. OR...
  6. Give a $10,000 bonus to every teacher who teaches full-credit speech and debate courses and takes students to a minimum of eight intermural speech/debate tournaments each school year. Participation in debate improves graduation rates, test scores, and college readiness.

There. Six counterproposals, some with more evidence than Governor Daugaard has offered for his plan, and I'm not sweating yet. Hoghouse time, boys!

May I now criticize the Governor's proposal, Mr. Beck? Please?

Update 19:10 MST: A neighbor recommends spending that $15 million on rebuilding music, drama, and art programs that got bagged by No Child Left Behind and decades of stingy South Dakota budgets. Participation in the arts "is linked to higher academic performance, increased standardized test scores, more community service and lower dropout rates." Seven... let's crowdsource the hoghouse!


  1. David Newquist 2012.01.29

    I wonder if Mr. Beck could point out where teachers were even included or consulted in the proposals or were even considered as part of concerned constituency,

  2. Elliot Knuths 2012.01.29

    I'd be careful when saying "jerking my chain." Some of us are immature...

  3. Jana 2012.01.29

    Oh hell, follow the Argus example of treating your employees as your most valuable asset and have all state employees and teachers take a forced unpaid furlough.

    Maybe Mr. Beck could tell us how much that has saved on payroll expense for the Argus. What he won't be able to say is how it has hurt each one of his employees on a personal level.

    The other thing he won't say is how much each of his employees have given back to the company in terms of unpaid furloughs to make up for the incompetence of Gannet management.

    So did unpaid furloughs pay for the CEO's salary?

    Never mind this is South Dakota and employees should just be damn glad they have a job no matter what it pays! And if an employer doesn't live up to his promise...well that's just too damned bad too.

    Although it was Beck that coined the phrase...we're the state of just good enough.

    Of cour

  4. D.E. Bishop 2012.01.29

    Prof. Newquist has written an very good article on this topic at his blog, Northern Valley Beacon. I agree with his position that It's Not The Teachers. I've written in other places about the contempt and constant attacks that teachers are forced to endure now. The anti-public education forces, including many, many Repubs, have been undermining public schools and education for decades.

    Well, read Dr. Newquist's article here:

    [CAH: Dr. Newquist thinks well, writes well, and advocates well. I am honored to associate hyperlinkily with him.]

  5. Bill Fleming 2012.01.29

    Jana, what happened, did your battery run out?

    Hi Ms. Bishop. Nice to see you here.

  6. Tom Lawrence 2012.01.29

    I admire your thoughtfulness and passion on this. Interesting ideas that merit consideration. Thanks.

  7. Charlie Johnson 2012.01.29

    I agree that Cory has laid out some sound ideas to be further studied. As for the Argus, it saddens me they have gone down the proverbial path of decline.

  8. caheidelberger Post author | 2012.01.29

    Consideration? Further study? Thanks, fellas! We've got one month left in the Legislative session; we'd better see some fast study and hard hoghousing... or we'd better just drop HB 1234, convene a summer study committee, grill the candidates this fall, and duke it out with the new 2013 Legislature.

    Just good enough isn't enough, Jana. That gets us a permanently hobbled system. We need to learn that now and fix it.

  9. Jana 2012.01.29

    Bill: Jana, what happened, did your battery run out?

    Yes Bill, my battery has died along with the battery that powers my computer.

    What I was going to say was: Of course I can't remember the last time that Pierre let people get in the way of executing an ideology.

  10. caheidelberger Post author | 2012.01.29

    (It's too bad Pierre can't let an ideology get in the way of executing people.)

  11. Jana 2012.01.29

    You are right Cory, just good enough is...well not good enough.

    Unfortunately, being a single party state that relies on out of state organizations to tell us what to believe and what our laws should be....we end up with a good enough mentality.

    Lawrence gives you props for thoughts and passion...I second that motion.

  12. caheidelberger Post author | 2012.01.29

    Thanks, Jana! Now if I could just get someone from my delegation to make a motion to hoghouse HB 1234! Seven plans, right here! Let's do it!

  13. Jana 2012.01.29

    Let's not forget that the $15 million is just a token payment for getting rid of tenure, and with associated legislation, getting rid of public unions.

    This recipe for educational reform has been baked in ALEC and is being delivered across the country.

    What I find interesting is that the teacher tenure bills and other ALEC inspired legislation is happening in legislatures that aren't exactly known for their intellectual curiosity or balance.

  14. D. Bice 2012.01.30

    I like the rebuilding music, drama, and art programs idea your neighbor recommended!!!

  15. Geoff 2012.02.01

    Regarding #6, it's too bad Rapid City cut their debate classes on the last round of budget cuts and killed the lifeline of the debate program in two of the largest schools in the state.

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