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Open Thank-You to Petition Signers Against HB 1234… and Invitation to Further Action

I would send this letter directly to petition signers on, but that website is misbehaving just when we need it most. Therefore...

Dear Friends of Education in South Dakota:

We lost... but not by much.

Over 2300 of you signed my online petition to stop HB 1234, Governor Dennis Daugaard's package of education "reforms", and convene a task force to study K-12 education in South Dakota. Many more of you contacted your legislators by phone, e-mail, and in person to challenge their fantasy that HB 1234 was somehow "the people's plan." Thank you for speaking up for our teachers, our schools, and our students.

On Wednesday, the South Dakota House approved HB 1234 on a 36-33 vote. Your efforts and the protests of thousands of other South Dakotans persuaded six legislators who had previously voted for HB 1234 to vote against it yesterday. That would have been enough to defeat the bill, but Governor Daugaard waged a full-court press of arm-twisting and horse-trading to save his bill. The Governor persuaded two legislators who had previously voted no to change their votes yesterday and support the bill.

HB 1234 now goes to the desk of Governor Daugaard, who is sure to sign into law this package of destructive education policies.

The Governor and the legislators supporting HB 1234 are claiming that the bill is completely different from what we protested, that they amended it to address every concern we raised. That is not true. The bill not only keeps merit pay as the state's preferred default policy but extends the reach of merit pay, mandating that every school give merit bonuses to high-ranking math and science teachers. The bill still eliminates continuing contract; it simply delays the end until 2016.

Most importantly, HB 1234's supporters still ignore the fundamental fact that they have raced ahead with their solution without identifying the problem we are trying to solve. What's wrong with South Dakota's schools that requires this drastic policy change? No one has explained that. No one can explain that. And no one backing HB 1234 wants to say that... because they don't know.

There are three things you can do now to continue the fight against HB 1234 and the harm it will do to our schools:

1. Many people are talking about referring HB 1234 to a public vote. That may happen, if citizens gather nearly 16,000 signatures by 90 days after the end of the legislative session. If such a petition drive is launched, you can help circulate petitions in your neighborhood. I'll keep you posted if a referral drive happens.

2. You can keep this issue alive in the fall election. Grill your local candidates for state legislature on the campaign trail. Write letters to the editor about the need for better education policy. If your incumbents voted for HB 1234, vote them out. (You can find the roll call votes on the HB 1234 webpage.)

3. Most immediately, you can run for the Legislature yourself. It's not an easy job. But the most certain protection we have against HB 1234 is to elect legislators who will repeal it next year and focus on positive policy for our public schools. If your legislators voted for HB 1234, and if no one has yet filed to run against them, go to your courthouse, grab petitions, and get yourself on the ballot. Getting on the ballot for Legislature requires no more than 50 signatures.

We lost this battle, but not the war. We can still stop HB 1234. We now take the fight to the polls in November.

Again, thank you, everyone, for standing up for our schools, our kids, and the will of the people. Keep up the fight!

Cory Allen Heidelberger
Petition organizer, French teacher
Spearfish, SD


  1. larry kurtz 2012.03.03

    Awesome to hear you on Bill Janklow's idea of public radio last night, CAH!

  2. Owen Reitzel 2012.03.03

    Well Cory Mitchell Rep. Tonya Rozum said this bill needed to be passed because India is "kicking our butt" when it comes to education. She really said it. I heard it and couldn't believe it.

  3. caheidelberger Post author | 2012.03.03

    India?! Again, a legislator appeals to vague reheated national-level rhetoric to avoid discussing the fact that she has no evidence of a problem in the schools in Mitchell, Alexandria, Emery-Ethan, Salem, or anywhere else in South Dakota.

  4. D.E. Bishop 2012.03.03

    Yeah! Go Cory and all Friends of Children and Education in SD!

    (I'm living in MN now, so can't participate. But you have all the moral support I can offer.)

  5. Sam Peil 2012.03.03

    I will help!

  6. Stace Nelson 2012.03.04

    Japan & Korea, yes. But India? A huge portion of India lives in abject poverty and schooling is a luxury they are not afforded.

    Japan & Korea have school uniforms, longer school days, longer school weeks, longer school years, they compete for high school placement as well as college placement, just to name a few differences.

    We continue to import growing populations of illegal & legal immigrants into SD, we should expect that will have a growing impact on our test scores. When we look at how our rural culture has changed over the last 40 years, should we not acknowledge that impact too on our education results?

  7. caheidelberger Post author | 2012.03.04

    So, Rep. Nelson, if our schools are dealing with increasingly challenging groups of students, wouldn't that explain why statewide we might be spending more money on education but not seeing proportionately better test scores?

  8. David Newquist 2012.03.04

    The comparisons of U.S. education with that of foreign countries is nearly always specious and usually just plain factually wrong. It would be nice if people who make these comparisons would at least google an article or two, maybe even read a whole book, before making their pronouncements. Asian education systems are overwhelmingly geared to an elitist concept. Most high school students in Japan, for example, go to Juku or cram schools after their regular school day ends in order to try to get an advantage for entrance into the most prestigious schools. Ironically, the very politicians who blame American schools for a lagging competitive ranking are the ones who rail against elitism.

    The schools in various countries reflect the cultures; they don't create the cultures. This constant assault against teachers is an evasion of the culture that the political forces have created. And those forces do not hesitate to make pronouncements about education without having any information about how it works in their own country, let alone foreign countries. The problem is not in education failing the country, but how severely the country is failing education.

  9. caheidelberger Post author | 2012.03.04

    "Education is not failing South Dakota; South Dakota is failing education"—holy cow, David! you may have just written the referral campaign tagline.

  10. Stace Nelson 2012.03.04

    Mr. Newquist,
    Is correct on after school tutoring in Japan. They also have sports clubs were students pay to play in very good sports programs.

  11. Michael Black 2012.03.04

    Mr. Nelson, if you want to do something decent for education, you and your fellow legislators would bring back funding of alternative schools.

  12. Stace Nelson 2012.03.05

    Mr. Black,
    Please enlighten me on this, what is the history? What schools were previously funded? There were discussions on tax breaks for parents sending children to private schools and home schooling.

  13. Michael Black 2012.03.05

    The alternative schools were funded by the Dept of Labor with cooperation from local districts. The one in Madison was known as AIM HIGH. If you as a student had problems in a traditional classroom, you would study at your own pace with a supervising teacher until you finished your required coursework and employment in the community. I know of several students that graduated because of the AIM HIGH program.

    The alternative that students now have is to sit in a classroom in front of a computer and make up credits through a contracted credit recovery program. Success depends on the student being motivated enough to do it on their own.

  14. Steve Sibson 2012.03.05

    "“Education is not failing South Dakota; South Dakota is failing education”"

    Daugaard's education agenda is not a South Dakota agenda, it is an international one...workforce development for the global centrally planned economy. Corporate socialism (a Hegelian dialectic between socialism and free-markets) is failing education.

  15. Bill Fleming 2012.03.05

    Sibby, what exactly do you mean when you say "Hegelian dialectic?" Are you aware of the fact that Hegel himself had little or nothing to do with the idea, and that he was only referencing Kant?

    Also that Engles and Marx made fun of both Hegel and Kant?

    The dialectic, per se, is not a doctrine, by the way, it is an observation.

    It seems to me that you throw these terms around with an almost pathologically neurotic air of false erudition to disguise the fact that in reality, you don't have any idea what it is you are talking about.

  16. Steve Sibson 2012.03.05

    Hegelian dialectic is a "third way", a synthysis of the thesis and the anti-thesis. In this case the thesis is free-markets, the anti-thesis is socialism, the synthysis is fascism or corporate socialism.

    There have been many others who are confused by this important concept, so here is a link that should help bring understanding:

  17. Bill Fleming 2012.03.05

    From Karl Marx:

    "My dialectic method is not only different from the Hegelian, but is its direct opposite. To Hegel, the life-process of the human brain, i.e. the process of thinking, which, under the name of ‘the Idea’, he even transforms into an independent subject, is the demiurgos of the real world, and the real world is only the external, phenomenal form of ‘the Idea’. With me, on the contrary, the ideal is nothing else than the material world reflected by the human mind, and translated into forms of thought.

    ("Capital", Afterword, Second German Ed., Moscow, 1970, vol. 1, p. 29).

  18. Bill Fleming 2012.03.05

    Typical of Sibby and his ilk to ignore the real world.

  19. Steve Sibson 2012.03.05

    Or perhaps you will believe Wiki:

    G. W. F. Hegel, by the time of his death, was the most prominent philosopher in Germany. His views were widely taught, and his students were highly regarded. His followers soon divided into right-wing and left-wing Hegelians. Theologically and politically the right-wing Hegelians offered a conservative interpretation of his work. They emphasized the compatibility between Hegel's philosophy and Christianity. Politically, they were orthodox. The left-wing Hegelians eventually moved to an atheistic position. In politics, many of them became revolutionaries. This historically important left-wing group included Ludwig Feuerbach, Bruno Bauer, Friedrich Engels, and Marx.[2] They were often referred to as the Young Hegelians.

  20. Bill Fleming 2012.03.05

    The point, Steve, is if you are trying to reference "socialism," Marxism, and athiesm, referencing Hegel is the wrong way to do it. Hegel was a Christian. And his ideas were as seminal to Alexis de Tocqueville's thinking as they were to Marx's.

    You get an F in philosophy and history class today, Sibby.

  21. caheidelberger Post author | 2012.03.05

    ...and Sibby, I'm putting you on the sub-subcommittee to write the referral campaign taglines we use at the 9-12 meetings. Carry on.

  22. Steve Sibson 2012.03.06

    "You get an F in philosophy and history class today, Sibby."

    Bill, thanks for the compliment because the New Age philosophy and history content are at best half-truths. By adding the other half New Age Kool Aid drinkers like yourself are confused. You can apply Hegelian dialectics without adhering to all his other works.

    For the rest of you, what Bill is doing is an attempt to prevent your understanding as to how the New World Order is being established via the New Age evolution through a Hegelian dialectic applied on false dichotomies in order to create an utopian world. The concept is flawed, but the infiltration into school, media, and church has most lining up in lock step. And it is a path to destruction.

  23. Bill Fleming 2012.03.06

    Yes, Sibby you are correct. That's what I'm doing alright — from the massive, water-cooled Cray computers in the basement of the Spanish castle on my unicorn ranch. At long last, you have found me out. Drats!

  24. Steve Sibson 2012.03.06

    Bill, thanks for admitting it, and then going on to prove my point even further.

  25. Bill Fleming 2012.03.06

    No problem Sibby. Now go take your meds like a good boy, okay?

  26. Steve Sibson 2012.03.06

    Bill, and thanks again for ending the debate with a personal attack.

Comments are closed.