Press "Enter" to skip to content

Russell Olson Responds to Facebook Constituent Protest on Education Reforms!

Last updated on 2013.01.23

Update 15:44 MST: Senator Russell Olson responds... even more arrogantly than I expected he would:

If you would like my comments and/or position on this bill, or any other bill, please submit them to my email account
I use this page solely to keep my constituents, and any other followers, updated on my events at the Capitol. I would be happy to read your ideas, concerns or questions you have about the bills I support or sponsor.
I would not support a bill I did not fully believe would better the state of South Dakota. This page is not for public debate, it is to keep my followers updated. I encourage you to contact me in Pierre at any time. I look forward to hearing from each and every one you. Thank you.

[Senator Russell Olson (R-8/Wentworth), Facebook post, 2012.02.10]

Because this is important, because it shows that Senator Russell Olson misunderstands the Internet and democracy exactly the way I said he does in my original post, here's the screen shot of his totally public Facebook page:

Senator Russell Olson tells the public not to discuss issues on his public Facebook page.
Senator Russell Olson tells the public not to discuss issues on his public Facebook page, February 10, 2012.

Among the people hitting "Like" on this "Put a sock in it": fellow elected official and Madison Central School Board member Jennie Thompson.

[Original Post]: South Dakota Senate Majority Leader Russell Olson is taking a lot of heat on his Facebook page for his support of Governor Daugaard's destructive education reforms. I present without commentary the comments submitted by constituents to the District 8 Republican. Senator Olson is also letting this commentary go without commentary: demonstrating his obsolete understanding of the Internet as a marketing device to push his message rather than a forum for genuine civic interaction, the Senator has not offered a single public response to any of his constituents.

Our goal is student achievement. Tuesday near Pierre, SD
  • Eve Fisher and 3 others like this.
    • Erin Weber Heidelberger If the goal is student achievement, merit pay will not accomplish that! We lag too far behind surrounding states in teacher pay. We need across-the-board teacher salary increases, so that we can recruit and RETAIN the brightest and best teachers.
      Wednesday at 4:33pm · Like: 10
    • Russ, We can do better on the education bill. Let's start by increasing funding for the school aid formula so that school districts can decide how and where to increase salaries. Better salaries will help retain good teachers. Better salaries across the board will help to encourage the best of our best to consider education as a career thereby providing a recruiting field that administrators can tap into. Nothing will get rid of a poor teacher faster than a superintendent having the financial resources to hire a better and more qualified replacement. Please consider dropping your present support of the education bill and the amendments you have offered up. Listen to the educators in this state.
      Wednesday at 4:45pm · Like: 14
    • Karl Schmidt For a party that prides itself on promoting local decision-making, I am surprised that it would advocate such a top-down solution.
      Wednesday at 4:48pm Like: 5
    • Sara Keller-Moncada My first year of teaching in SD, I was the lowest paid public school teacher in the US. That after 7.5 years of college! Wonder why I didn't stick around??? (besides the small town, good-ol'-boys mentality)
      Wednesday at 4:58pm Like: 7
    • Sara Keller-Moncada By the way, that was after ADDING a second education major and two endorsements. I also had 10+ years of volunteering in schools before I graduated. I'd like to think I was highly qualified.
      Wednesday at 5:12pm · Like: · 4
    • Owen Reitzel You don't have a clue Mr. Olson
      Not a clue when it comes to education

      Wednesday at 6:01pm · Like: 2
    • Adell Ebert Hakeman WOW how the hell did we elect this guy???? We won't make THAT mistake again! Think about it... THAT IS HIS BEST WORK!!!
      Wednesday at 7:13pm · Like: 1
    • Pat O'Brien Richardson Before those legislators vote on a bill for which they are clueless,they need to spend at least a week following a teacher in the classroom to better assess what they are voting on.
      Wednesday at 7:34pm · Like:· 3

    • Cory Allen Heidelberger €Ž...and I've seen no evidence that anything in HB 1234, either the original or the behind-closed-doors GOP revision, is directly linked to definite gains in student achievement.

      Wednesday at 7:52pm ·
    • Paul Allen Even HB 1234 sounds to me like the Everything Pencil.
      Wednesday at 10:06pm ·
      Charlene Montanari Ligrani Following a teacher in the classroom won't help. They need to actually take over and do everything that teacher does for a week, and be held responsible for the outcome. Only then will they come close to getting it.
    • Wednesday at 10:23pm ·
      Matt Groce Cory, that would be because there is not evidence that anything in HB 1234 is linked to gains in achievement. There is lots of evidence that shows it will lower achievemnet, and I have emailed just some of those Russell. Obviously contacting your elected officials is not nessicary.
    • Yesterday at 5:45am ·
      Cory Allen Heidelberger Russ, you keep telling us that we can't just say we don't like your plan, but that we have to come up with a plan of our own. When your plan makes things worse, we're perfectly justified in sticking with the status quo. But if you insist, I can give you six counterplans (oops! make that seven!):
    • Yesterday at 6:00am · Like: 2
    • Russell, I've relayed to you already about my concern with this bill. Congress has to listen to what "experts", the teachers, administrators, and board members of South Dakota, are saying about this bill. This bill will create conflict because teachers are people too. The needs in many schools vary individually and cannot be generalized as South Dakota is doing. We have always produced well without the proper support from the legislature. Average the salaries for teachers, how much schools are allotted, and the standing of the students nationally, and see where we as a state stand. We will, no doubt, will prove to be doing our job well.
      Yesterday at 6:55am ·
    • Penni Groce Apparently in South Dakota, the terms 'compromise' or 'reaching an agreement' are code for ultimatum. Either you agree to these terms, or you don't get funding. Yep, that sounds like compromise to me alright!
      Yesterday at 7:19am · Like: 2
    • Becca Bergheim-Pivonka It's no wonder that here in Omaha, I constantly run into good teachers who went to school in SD and got the heck out after they graduated. It seems that SD is content on educating our educators and then letting them go to another state to use that education.
      Yesterday at 7:23am ·
    • Penni Groce We build TOO many walls and NOT enough bridges. - Isaac Newton
      Yesterday at 7:24am ·

    • Cory Allen Heidelberger Can anyone tell me how many teachers have said they support this plan? You know, Russ, teachers: the folks in the front of the classroom who know from daily experience what actually works in education?

      23 hours ago ·Like: · 1
    • Here is a question for Senator Olson... How much do you make at your full-time job? I bet it is at least three to four times more than the average teacher in South Dakota. What does Mr. Olson think is a fair wage for a teacher? Guess what... the majority of us in this state believe being a Teacher is a lot more important job than being the "Heartland Manager of Community and Economic Development". So how about this, let's cut crony capitalism funding to Heartland and other power companies next year so you get a major pay cut next year. How about we pay all teachers the same salary you make in your economic development job. Many of these individuals have Masters and Doctoral degrees and I bet they still make less than you do. Tax money is not paid in this state so you can turn around and game the system to hand out millions to your rich friends. Taxes are paid so we can have world-class public school system. Education has more of an economic development impact than a "Community and Economic Development" position at a power company ever will. Go talk to some real leaders in Education and they will tell you what you need to do. If you understood Economic Development you would know that Education is the foundation. Stop pretending you understand anything about education or how to properly fund education. We are tired of the games and politics. We are tired of your "spin". We all see through it.
      20 hours ago · Like: 3
    • Deb 'Learing' Rombough Merit pay is a huge mistake. Please support SD teachers...and students. This plan does not benefit either.
      15 hours ago · Like: 3
    • Bryce Petersen Maybe the state senators and rep. that we have elected should also pass a merit pay for themself. It always seems when the shoe is on the other foot it fits better than when its on thier foot. The best thing for education is to get all the politics out of it and let teacher teach.
      13 hours ago · Like: 3
    • If a one-time bonus is paid to State Employees, the same must be paid to Educators. State Employees received no 3% raise three years in a row, while Educators took a 10% hit in one year. Both receive State Funding, both participate in the State Retirement Plan, yet State Employees get a $2500 across the board bonus while Educators have to claw and compete for a few bonuses. Informed Fairness? You guys need to shut your mouths and open your ears, Russ.
      10 hours ago ·
    • Mike Henriksen So we are going to give $40,000 to unproven rookies while they learn their craft, and then when they get to year 6 they take an $8000 pay cut? How is that going to increase test scores or teacher retention? And at the same time we take proven professionals and make them wrestle with each other for a fraction of that? Take tenure if you wish, but this bonus idea will do much more harm than good.
      10 hours ago · Like:· 3
    • Deb McDonald Sooooo, let's lighten the subject. Is the picture crooked or the guys? :-) Too soon, not appropriate?
      10 hours ago · Like: 1
    • So happy to be out of that state. South Dakota will always be home, but after 9 years of it, I chose to take their advice and "get out" if I didn't like it. It was the best decision I ever made...I am treated with respect, paid better (almost double now) and was able to actually afford continuing professional development and graduate studies while owning a house and raising a family...something I would have struggled to do a mere 5 years ago while living in SD. I am now a better teacher, and have Minnesota to thank for helping me get to that point...I wish SD teachers could feel what I do now. I currently teach in a school district that ranks in the top 100 in the nation, am proud to be there, and will work the rest of my career there knowing I have the full support of students, admin., parents, and local politicians who actually value our work. It's an amazing thing that unfortunately is the exception rather than the rule.
      10 hours ago · Like: 5
    • Mike Henriksen The most successful young scientists I know credit their career to their high school English teacher, who taught them how to communicate their ideas better than their peers! They both have wonderful jobs. One in Arizona, and the other in Missouri. Both are SDSU and Dell Rapids grads. Too bad there were no jobs to keep them here.
      9 hours ago ·
    • Chris Long There are proponents to this bill - but they sure seem hard to find. It's time to do what is right - fund the formula and make our SD youth the priority they should have always been.
      9 hours ago ·
    • Hey I got an idea...let's ask EDUCATORS what will help! One suggestion give each district the "bonus" money to help lower class sizes! That would probably be a HUGE help in raising test scores. But none of our legistators would know that since NONE including our governor has taken the time to walk the halls of our schools before they deemed education "broken" in SD! What they don't understand is that what is really broken in education is they way they continually UNDERFUND it and expect miracles. For years we have had pretty GOOD if not GREAT test scores considering we rank toward the bottom in funding per student. But even the best teachers under such circumstances can NOT continue to pull rabbits out of hats. Especially if they tell us that 80% of us are a failure every year. SAD!
      about an hour ago ·
      [Update 15:55 MST: added by former Lt. Gov. candidate Ben Arndt after I placed this post in the queue, but before Senator Olson informed us all that Facebook is for his marketing, not for real public discussion]:

      • Ben Arndt What do you say Senator? Too hard to explain the inexplicable? Please get back to funding the formula and local control. If the Governor and you want to experiment with other top-down speculative methods, you can try scaled pilot testing in addition to funding the formula. Let's get education in this state back on track.

        4 hours ago · Like: 1
      • Ben Arndt Correction: my last sentence above was supposed to read "Let's get education funding in this state back on track."
        4 hours ago · Like: 2
        [Update: posted on FB Friday evening] Deb Henriksen

        From a 12 year veteran teacher of reading in the middle school,thank you for the supportive comments. I will never see a bonus with 12 years experience and being a reading teacher. The money I make does not make my students acheive highertest scores. My experience, my listening skills, my willingness to take time with my students makes my students acheive higher test scores. It is wonderful to feel the support from all of you through these posts. Thank you again!!!!
        13 hours ago · Like: 1


  1. Michael Black 2012.02.10

    Not everyone worries about Facebook when they are doing their job. Mr. Olson's silence means nothing. His actions will speak volumes later on when he votes.

  2. Matt Groce 2012.02.10

    His actions have already spoke, and hundreds of laid off teacher are listening loud and clear.

  3. Elliot Knuths 2012.02.10

    I agree with Mr. Black on this one. I don't think anyone would be criticizing Obama or Romney for not responding to Facebook comments. And sure, I can send Mark Zuckerberg a private message on the same site (it works), but does that mean I'm entitled to a response?

  4. Charlie Johnson 2012.02.10

    Bernie Hunhoff posts comments on his FB almost daily--he then will usually offer a follow-up comment later in the day. If Bernie can manage his workings in the social media, certainly Russ Olson can also. Besides Russ opened his FB account and posted the large picture of himself and Lust talking about education. If people were in favor of HB1234, they would be posting comments to that effect. Since none have been offered, it can be assumed no one reading Olson's FB is in favor HB1234.

  5. caheidelberger Post author | 2012.02.10

    Elliot, Russell Olson is not a national candidate. He has time to post. If Rep. Bernie Hunhoff can manage it, so can Russ. We should expect our legislators to engage the public. If Russ wants a billboard website, he can post to ""

    And you know, I'd actually argue that Obama and Romney should take some time to post and engage with their constituents online themselves.

  6. Bill Fleming 2012.02.10

    I see that Mr. Olson actually took the time to tell people he didn't want to talk to them on Facebook. That's kinda like the ding-dong beauty queen who went on Larry King Live so she could walk off the set, isn't it?

    Someone should maybe go over the FB privacy settings with him... you know... a little Social Media 101.

  7. Michael Black 2012.02.10

    Charlie, it's his account. He can do with it as he sees fit. Facebook can be a dangerous beast and can turn on you in a heartbeat. Cory has just shown us how discussions on FB can turn on it's owner. Posting on someone's page can gain you recognition but it's not going to help your case with Mr. Olson. He's not the type of person that embraces social media like Bernie Hunhoff.

    Now how do we tell Mr. Olson that we think that his is mistaken in his support for the governor's education plan? We can post here but I doubt he reads Madville Times. We can call or email him in Pierre and express our opinions, but in reality he will do what he thinks makes the best sense to him. Now that may be driven by common sense or loyalty to his party.

    Common sense tells us that financial incentives improve academic performance. An overwhelming number of studies show the contrary to be true.

    The students are the ones that will suffer in the long run. Their teachers already feel compelled to make sure their pupils are well prepared for the standardized tests. When many high school student can't tell you the most basic of questions about our country's history or government, then we have a serious problem.

  8. Les 2012.02.10

    Give Olson some credit for not voting SB123 Corey. I think the chicken dance has our attention.

    Proactive efforts for next session rather than waiting to see how many fingers you're gonna lose every year.

  9. RGoeman 2012.02.11

    Education funding under Governor Daugaard is like death by a thousand cuts. They just keep ratcheting down the screws at the State level, when constitutionally, every school district should be under local control in South Dakota. Unbridled, unchecked single focus mentality supported by uninformed followers.

  10. Elliot Knuths 2012.02.11

    Why don't we just privatize the whole education sector already?

  11. caheidelberger Post author | 2012.02.11

    Because, Elliot, we have an obligation to ensure that every person can receive a fair and adequate education, regardless of income. Public education is a vital glue in keeping society together. There is something profoundly important and democratic about the richest kid in Madison sitting next to poorest kid in Madison in Mr. Cordts's class.

  12. Wayne Pauli 2012.02.11

    This will probably not come as shock to most people, but emailing Senator Olson does not necessarily mean that you will get a response. I sent emails last session to his legislative email account and did not get any type of feedback from him. I sent communication via email to all of our
    District 8 folks as well as the Governor and I received replies from all...except Senator Olson.

  13. Bill Fleming 2012.02.11

    "There is something profoundly important and democratic about the richest kid in Madison sitting next to poorest kid in Madison in Mr. Cordts’s class."

    ...and the possibility that the poor kid might be getting better grades.

    Point being, that kids are neither rich nor poor... and shouldn't be encouraged to think of themselves in those terms.

  14. caheidelberger Post author | 2012.02.11

    Point taken, Bill! A common public school is one of the best ways to keep kids from thinking of themselves in those terms.

  15. Charlie Johnson 2012.02.11


    I have heard the same thing from another local educator. They have sent two separate e-mails on the education issue and have yet to receive a response from Sen. Olson.

  16. Wayne Pauli 2012.02.11

    Yes, at a minimum closing the feedback loop with a simple, "Thank you for contacting me, your thoughts and ideas are important to me..." is important to all people who take the time to communicate. Without closing the loop we are left in doubt if the email was received or worse, we recognize it as our time is less important than the person we are trying to communicate with.

  17. Elliot Knuths 2012.02.11

    Watch this. That's how school should be run. If someone really cared about students from less fortunate backgrounds getting an equal education, they would only disagree with school choice sarcastically.

  18. Eve Fisher 2012.02.12

    Mr. Olson doesn't understand the rules of Facebook: anyone who "likes" you can say anything they want to you, unless you hide their posts, or "unlike" them. Otherwise, it's a free for all. Get with it. Get over it. Move on. Oh, and if you can't live with criticism, what the blazes are you doing in politics anyway?

  19. larry kurtz 2012.02.12

    lance russell, russell olson, betty olson, lust+hickey=rave+sly, adelstein+abdallah=steele-wink, gray+white+lederman<brown, peters+wick=nelson-nelson...

Comments are closed.