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Daugaard Signs Education Reform Bill; Not a Teacher in Sight

Governor Dennis Daugaard has a rotten sense of political theater. He has before him House Bill 1234, his signature piece of legislation for the 2012 session. He toured the state, twisted arms, and got a big win. It's time for a victory dance, right?

Call the photographer, Dennis! Line up the proud supporters and beneficiaries of HB 1234. Surround yourself with smiling teachers and prospective teachers, all with merit pay and scholarship dollar signs dancing in their eyes. Crowd in some principals and superintendents and school boards all flush with freedom from continuing contract. Line up some friendly parents, squeeze in some of their cute little kids who will now thrive in the education system you just fixed!

But the Governor misses the moment completely:

Governor Dennis Daugaard signs House Bill 1234 with Pierre bureaucrats watching and smiling.
South Dakota Governor Dennis Daugaard signs HB 1234, his education reform package, into law. Watching the signing (L to R): chief of staff Dusty Johnson; Dept. of Ed. director of finance and management Tami Darnall; director of communications and policy Tony Venhuizen, counsel Jim Seward, Education Secretary Melody Schopp, and DoE staff attorney Bobbi Rank.

Wow. Witnessing the signing of this historic piece of legislation is not one practicing teacher, not one member of the public at large whose input supposedly turned HB 1234 from the Governor's plan into "the people's plan." To mark the occasion, Governor Daugaard surrounds himself with six bureaucrats: three members of his inner circle, three members of his Department of Education, none of whom have done much recent work in the classrooms this bill will affect.

Now granted, we teachers and our students were all busy when the Governor signed this bill this morning. My kids and I were hip deep in reflexive verbs. But dang, man! He's the Governor! If he'd wanted to, he could have held a signing ceremony this evening so the Pierre PTA could attend. He could have bopped over to Huron last weekend during the Girls State B Basketball Tournament, where he surely could have rounded up some approving teachers and administrators for a signing ceremony at center court.

Yet the Governor chooses this picture to hang over the public mantel as our memento of his biggest achievement in the 2012 Legislature. Maybe he didn't intend it, but this photo shows exactly whose bill HB 1234 really is.

If you're not in the picture... you're not in the picture.


  1. Owen Reitzel 2012.03.13

    just like he'll come to a school to explain the bill.
    can't wait to see Dusty Johnson in Mitchell. Along with Mitchell school superintendent Joe Graves.
    You know you would have thought he would have gotten a few teachers in the photo op. Maybe he tried and couldn't find one that want to be in it!

  2. Joseph Nelson 2012.03.13

    Cory, the only missed opportunity I see here is that you are missing the opportunity to host a Caption Contest on the blog!

    "Does anyone remember how to write a cursive capital 'G'?" or "Gov. Daugaard finally gets around to signing the request for office equipment"

  3. Michael Black 2012.03.13

    The Argus Leader's Patrick Lalley had some great insights on HB1234 on the 100 eyes of SD Politics this afternoon...10-15 minutes in...

  4. caheidelberger Post author | 2012.03.13

    Joseph, consider that opportunity open!

    Michael, what did they say?

  5. caheidelberger Post author | 2012.03.13

    Owen, you may well be right about the lack of willing participants.

  6. Michael Black 2012.03.13

    Cory, you are going to have to listen to get everything he said. He didn't debate the merits of the bill, but went into the political realities of what the voters may think come November. Some great stuff to think about no matter what side you are on.

  7. larry kurtz 2012.03.13

    one person's smirk is another's diagnosis....

  8. larry kurtz 2012.03.13

    solipsistic lawyer's pecuniary disorder.

  9. caheidelberger Post author | 2012.03.14

    Audio is so linear. Give me some text!

  10. Robert J. Cordts 2012.03.14

    Only certain people are allowed in the governor's bunker Cory.

  11. caheidelberger Post author | 2012.03.14

    And that bunker mentality serves us so well.

  12. Michael Black 2012.03.14

    Are you too busy to listen?

  13. D.E. Bishop 2012.03.14

    "his photo shows exactly whose bill HB 1234 really is."

    What an excellent synopsis of the entire legislative procedure for 1234.

    It seems they have pretty much mastered the benign, approving expression, except Verhuizen. He seems to be very concerned that DD gets it right. He must have some doubts. Understandable.

  14. caheidelberger Post author | 2012.03.14

    Michael, actually, yes. I can fit text articles into my day much more conveniently than watching podcasts. Text articles are also much easier to blog, since I don't have to type up my own transcript or try to edit the video to embed the relevant clips. The written word has some advantages.

  15. caheidelberger Post author | 2012.03.14

    D.E., I think Venhuizen looks just a little too eager to get into the big chair himself. Easy, tiger!

  16. Michael Black 2012.03.14

    Watch the video Cory.

  17. caheidelberger Post author | 2012.03.14

    In the time you've spent trying to convince me to watch the video, you could have just told me what's on the video. What insights did they offer that you haven't seen covered here? What insights did they offer don't make crystal clear the top-down, anti-teacher power-play made crystal clear by the composition of the above photo?

  18. Jana 2012.03.14

    Cory, I think we need a caption contest on what Tony is thinking.

    I thought that same thing with the little twitter shot of the 20 somethings jumping for joy at the passage of HB1234. My caption for that shot was

    "Wait till we show the boys at ALEC that we actually got this thing passed! They'll be soooo impressed!"

  19. Curtis Price 2012.03.14

    He didn’t debate the merits of the bill, but went into the political realities of what the voters may think come November.

    Yes, Michael, that's important that the Governor focus on the process, because the political activity and political effect of his (I mean, ALEC's) outrageously bad bill is much more important than the effect on our students and teachers in South Dakota.

    ALEC of course doesn't care a whit about teachers and students, they care about politics and making sure every last bit of worker's rights in this country are destroyed so their corporate sponsors can be as efficient (profitable) as possible. I'm so proud that so many of our legislators (both of mine!) are big players on their "model legislation" committees.

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