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Daugaard Responds to HB 1234 Referral Petitions with Anti-Labor Red Herring

Teacher Bonus Bill? Try "We Think Teachers Are Bogus" Bill.

Governor Dennis Daugaard offers a swift and predictable response to the submission of about 30,000 signatures yesterday to refer HB 1234, his toxic flagship education reform bill, to the November ballot:

I'm not surprised that the Teacher Bonus Bill was referred because the teachers' union put a lot of work into collecting signatures. I look forward to furthering the discussion with the people of South Dakota on this very important topic. The bill is aimed at improving student achievement by channeling extra money directly to our best teachers and phasing out teacher tenure [Gov. Dennis Daugaard, press release, 2012.06.18].

In this meager paragraph, the Governor ably summarizes exactly the red-herring strategy that The Displaced Plainsman ably foresaw last month. His response:

Daugaard claims that a nebulous "teachers union" not classroom teachers oppose the HB 1234. He is contending that the "union" is not composed of real South Dakotans, and that the "union" wants students to fail while he, the defender of all that is right and good, is all that stands between students and the abyss [LK, "HB 1234 Red Herring Update," The Displaced Plainsman, 2012.06.18].

By the way, I collected numerous signatures in Spearfish and Madison. I belong to no union.


  1. lrads1 2012.06.19

    Did you notice how KELO fell for it first thing last night? Called it "teacher bonus bill" more than once in their story.

  2. Carter 2012.06.19

    Have we tried getting another name out for it? That's one place Daugaard may be ahead of Cory. People like descriptive-yet-simple names for bills. "HB 1234" is the real name, sure, but it requires people to remember what bill that is. "Education Restriction" bill or something might be better than calling it "HB 1234". But maybe Cory already has a name for it, and I just haven't heard it (in that case, get the name out there, Cory!)

  3. caheidelberger Post author | 2012.06.19

    The broadcast media crave a quick sound-bite name. The bill has five major planks, impossible to condense into one accurate name. Those of us trying to tell the truth about HB 1234 can't dress it up with just two words.

    But we've got to counter the Governor's propaganda. Let's hear it, readers! What are our options?

    --The Ed-Wrecker?
    --The "Teachers Suck" Bill?
    --The School Sinker?
    --Daugaard's Trick?

    I have to admit, I'd like 1234 to stick, just for song and slogan purposes.

    Give it your best shot, counter-propagandists!

  4. Carter 2012.06.19

    1-2-3-4 Teachers Don't Count

    I think we may need to find a professional. Does anyone come up with slogans for a living?

  5. Barry Smith 2012.06.19

    Always the obvious " South Dakota war on education bill"

  6. Matt Groce 2012.06.19

    Teacher Competition Bill
    Student Testing Bill
    Dull and Dangerous Daugaard Dribble?

  7. caheidelberger Post author | 2012.06.19

    Student Testing Bill could have legs, since that's the only part of the bill even indirectly related to student achievement. Alliteration also appeals: Daugaard Disaster?

    Barry, I might also go for "War on Education" bill. Would "War on Schools" work?

  8. Larry 2012.06.19

    This is not just the teachers who are against the Education Deform Plan, a vast majority of administrators and school board members are too. They just don't have the b**** to come out against the Governor. As if that has gotten them alot so far.

  9. Carter 2012.06.19

    I don't like "Student Testing Bill". If the goal is counter-propaganda, it needs to show that the bill is negative. "Student Testing Bill" doesn't sound remotely negative without knowledge of the ideas behind the bill, to me. If someone knows the ins and outs of standardized testing, they probably won't need a fancy name. If they don't, they'll just think, "Testing? Oh, that's good! The students will need to know more!"

    I like "War on Education" more than "War on Schools". "War on Schools", to me, sounds like the school buildings themselves are in danger, or that Daugaard is promoting some private school voucher program. "War on Education" Bill works better in my eyes.

  10. LK 2012.06.19

    Let's modify a classic. This is a Stop, Drop, and Roll Teachers bill.

    It stops teachers from teaching; drops legal protections, and rolls 80% of them under the bus.

  11. Steve Sibson 2012.06.19

    Something with "power grab" or "Daugaard Deception".

  12. caheidelberger Post author | 2012.06.19

    Wow! LK! Well done! Go to the head of the class.

    Carter, "Schools" jumped into my inner ear over "Education" given its nice Anglo-Saxon monosyllable and opening consonant. Barbarians pack a little more punch than Latin speakers, don't they?

    Keep that sound and fury coming, readers!

  13. Matt Groce 2012.06.19

    In a million years you will never get somebody in the media to call this bill the "War" on anything. It just makes you sound over dramatic... however true it may actually be.

  14. Barry Smith 2012.06.19

    I wonder about the Governors use of the word "bonus". Ever since the Wall Street fiasco "bonus" can carry a negative connotation with the public.

  15. caheidelberger Post author | 2012.06.19

    Matt, you're in the media! Say it, just once. Drop the bomb on the morning report: "The War on Schools bill continues to generate controversy...." What's the worst that could happen? :-)

  16. Steve O'Brien 2012.06.19

    OK, I'll play the slogan game:

    The School Funding Smokescreen - 1234 tries to get advocates to take their eye off the REAL problem in public education in SD: Funding.

    The State Takeover of Local Schools - 1234 takes the decision making out of local school boards and centers it in Pierre (the very notion Pierre rails against when Washington DC does this to our state).

    The Solution Looking for a Problem - 1234 looks to "fix" the very elements SD students rank well nationally - performance on standardized tests. As to the actual problems, funding and salaries, there is no solution.

    The Wet Blanket on Economic Development - short-term, education funding (think local salaries) is economic development for local school districts and communities; long term, strong schools become magnets for economic development for communities.

    The National Intrusion on State Common Sense - 1234-like legislation has appeared in many Republican (ALEC influenced) states. South Dakota doesn't need outsiders telling us how to run our most important infrastructure.

    The real problem is simplistic thinking is what got us in this mess in the first place. In schools, simplistic thinking is what we teach our students to avoid. Simplistic thinking dooms us to never taking on the real challenge and complexity of issues. Maybe slogans and simplistic thinking isn't how this issue ought to be answered.

  17. caheidelberger Post author | 2012.06.19

    That last sentence says it all. (However, if marketing demands counter-marketing, I might put Solution Looking for A Problem in my top 5... since it can almost be acronymified to SLAP.)

  18. Steve Sibson 2012.06.19

    Daugaard's Teacher Control Act.

  19. Mike Larson 2012.06.19

    I like the smoke and mirror bill and for a slogan sake The DEAF Bill:

    Daugaard's Erroneous and Anti-Future Bill.

  20. Carter 2012.06.19

    I think we might be trying too hard. Daugaard's "Teacher Bonus Bill" works because it has a simple message that's (according to Daugaard) in the bill. It gives good teachers a bonus. So when you read the bill (media people, mostly, not normal people), they read it with "Teacher Bonus Bill" in mind, and then when they read about teacher pay they can say, "Oh, I see how they get bonuses!"

    Instead of a name attacking Daugaard or the bill (might as well as just call it "The Bad Bill for Teachers" or "This Bill is Stupid" Bill), it should have a name that can be connected to the contents of the bill.

    That's why I liked Barry's "War on Education" so much (less dramatic variations would work, too). It attacks the bill by discussing the contents of the bill (it's an attack on education), as opposed to attacking Daugaard (which implies that something like "Daugaard is stupid so this bill is stupid") or just saying the bill is generally bad, smoke/mirrors, or a problem looking for a solution (lots of bills are like this).

    I realize the bill is about more than that, but it needs to grab attention, like a headline. You can't headline your article "Daugaard's HB 1234 will have a negative effect on the performance of students and teachers because of insert lines of the bill here" and expect people to be interested. The headline needs to be something like "Daugaard's HB 1234 will cripple SD education".

    Our counter-propaganda name for the bill needs to be a headline that can get attention, be easily remembered, and articulates our general argument against the bill. People who are interested can learn more about the actual contents after, but attention grabbing comes first.

    I'm not an expert, but my advice would be to stay away from Daugaard's name and generic titles and go for something that says "This bill harms students and teachers".

  21. Douglas Wiken 2012.06.19

    Daugaard's Never-Worked, Never-will-Work Humbug Plan.

  22. Steve O'Brien 2012.06.19

    I like the "War on Education" idea - albeit the whole "War on ... " has been done to death.

    In war, one will cut the enemy off from its supply lines - the Governor has done this: he has cut education funding (taking a paged directly from Grover Norquist- starve the beast) In war, one will attempt to create infighting within the enemy ranks - the Governor has attempted this with the competitive merit pay proposal. In war one eliminates as many of the enemy as possible - The Governor has done this with hundreds of teachers leaving the profession as schools tighten budgets.

  23. Mike Larson 2012.06.19

    Nice use of the metaphor Steve. I agree that War has been overused, but it works. This bill is a war on teachers, a war on local governments, a war on students, and a war on the future of South Dakota.

    Matt, what do you mean that no one in the media would ever use war on... Fox News is at war 7 nights a week, 52 weeks a year (except Christmas, because that would be a War on Christmas.) It is simple. The media reports that HB 1234, otherwise known as a War on Education by its opponents, and then continue the story. After about two weeks of phrasing it that way, you can drop the HB 1234 because everyone will begin to associate it with the War on Education.

  24. Donald Pay 2012.06.19

    My guess is Daugaard is getting his talking points the same place he got his bill: from out-of-state political hacks. These hacks have focus tested these soundbytes, and they know what can turn South Dakota voters by these sorts of lies.

    My guess is, though, that "Teacher Bonus Bill" is a bad choice. What overburdened taxpayer wants to pay out more money for bonuses? Everyone understands wages/salaries. How many farmers or wage slaves really get much of a bonus. Such things go to Wall Streeters or corporate executives, not the average South Dakotan, unless it's a Thanksgiving turkey. He may have unwittingly killed off his own bill.

    Daugaard needs to come clean on who is behind his bill. He needs to tell us who is advising him. Where he is going to get his money to defend the monstrosity, for example? Maybe the press there in SD will actually act like a press, rather than a photocopier, and look at other states that are doing about the same thing and expose who it is that's behind this effort.

  25. Barry Smith 2012.06.19

    "War On" is overused but that is exactly what makes it good propaganda. It evokes a desired response that audiences already possess.

  26. Donald Pay 2012.06.19

    "Taxpayers Against Wall Street Bonuses"

    I am assuming the usual out-of-state education corporations will be getting a big chunk of consulting money, and will therefore be stepping in to fund the campaign for Daugaard's .

  27. Jana 2012.06.19

    Maybe I'm missing something, but does anyone else find it interesting that there isn't a cavalcade of support raining down on the governor?

    So far it's crickets from the oh so faithful that bow to the governor...

    Any guesses why they are so quiet?

  28. Jana 2012.06.19

    The DWC and "Bill Clay" are silent...admitting they got nothing.

    Sure was a good ride while it lasted though, huh boys?

    So how do you DWC guys gracefully tell PP and Gant that you're not in the fight with them?

    Of course maybe Dr. Blanchard at SD politics will come to the rescue and salvage any shred of decency that can be found here...then again, he's known about this for a while, so maybe he bailed too.

    Good god Troy, you gotta get engaged here...the whole party is looking like they are culpable to this corruption.

  29. LK 2012.06.19

    I am generally unwilling to disagree with Steve who thinks on higher levels than I do, but in this campaign, the war metaphor contains a danger besides boredom.

    All Daugaard has to do is bring out three or four veterans to say something like "We fought in a real war and this campaign cheapens our service." I may be wrong, but that press conference seems to be worth about 5 point swing in November.

  30. Jana 2012.06.19

    Maybe I was too harsh on the GOP faithful. After all they are gearing up for the state convention and finding out that the Ron Paul group is now in control of the party. Sorry guys....

  31. PrairieLady 2012.06.19

    "Only Teachers Left Behind"

  32. Carter 2012.06.19

    If it was that easy, LK, the other news stations would have beaten out Fox's calls of Obamas numerous "wars" years ago.

  33. Carter 2012.06.19

    I'm not saying Daugaard wouldn't try it, LK. I just don't think it would have the instant, dramatic effect you've implied.

    It seems to me that HB 1234 has a very weak support base already. "War on Education" might not be the best name, but we absolutely need a catchy name for it. A bit of negative connotation and some good campaigning could lead to a huge majority of "no" voters this November, and I think shying away from poignant names just because of risk aversion will only work against us anti-HB 1234'ers.

    It needs to be something Cory likes, though, and something media-friendly.

  34. LK 2012.06.19

    A lot of South Dakotans wear their patriotic hearts on their sleeves.

    I think the SLAP proposal that Steve mentioned has everything that war metaphor has without any minuses.

    In addition to being a Solution Looking for A Problem, HB 1234 is a SLAP at teachers, local control, and parents because it says that Pierre knows more about education than anyone else.

    Quite frankly, HB 1234 rubs me the way that health care reform rubs its opponents. It was pushed through on a party line vote. Obamacare captures that idea and is easy to turn into a pejorative.

    The story should be simple. DaugaardEd or Daugaard Testing Plan.

    Maybe take this picture and use the tag line: no students, no teachers, no point

  35. Carter 2012.06.19

    The problem is see with things with "DaugaardEd" is that "Ed" doesn't slide off the tongue like "Care" does.

    I'm willing to accept (more or less) your point on War on Education, but personally, DaugaardEd doesn't do it for me. I like it much better than SLAP, though, which doesn't pass the "Generic name" test, in my eye.

  36. Barry Smith 2012.06.20

    "1234 Kids Don't Count Bill"
    or keep it simple
    "Kill School Unity Bill"

  37. caheidelberger Post author | 2012.06.20

    Dan Pink! Mike, good video!

    You know, it occurs to me that naming the bill itself may be less important than naming the campaign. If Gant finds no remarkable errors in our petition, HB 1234 will be tagged "Referred Law 16." "No on 16" is the obvious lead. But how about "Nix 16"? "We ain't broke; we don't need fixing. Nix 16!" (I know, teachers probably shouldn't use ain't... and we should probably use the proper past participle. Arrgghh! Never let grammarians run a campaign.)

  38. Bill Fleming 2012.06.20

    Campaign positioning suggestion:
    "16 reasons to vote No on 16."
    (...list 'em. Keep 'em short, sweet and simple, not wonkey.)
    Make a Facebook page and own the conversation.

  39. Carter 2012.06.20

    Maybe we need both! A good name for the campaign is great, especially for signs, etc. But I think we could combined the two.

    Vote NO on 16
    Vote NO on Daugaard's War on Education

    for example (or anything else using a name). Personally, those "Vote YES/NO on #" is a huge pet peeve of mine. Every time I see a sign like that, I think "What the **** is #? Is it good? Is it bad? Why doesn't anyone tell me what it is?"

    A good name clears this up. Plus, it has the advantage of convincing people who don't know/care. If I didn't know or really care about "16", and I was just going off to vote for Kristi Noem and I saw "Vote NO on 16", I would be like, "Huh. I'll have to read what 16 is." and then at the voting booth, "Oh, isn't that the Teacher Bonus Bill? Teachers are nice. I know teachers. Okay, I'll just vote YES!"

    If a name was there, I might see "Vote NO to the War on Education" and say, "It's a war on education? I better vote against that! Education is important!"

    Suffice to say I'm a big supporter of catchy names for both campaigns and bills (and almost everything else in the world).

  40. caheidelberger Post author | 2012.06.20

    How about this: "Who do you want teaching your kids: teachers or Dennis the Menace? Vote NO on 16."

  41. Troy 2012.06.20


    This is Cory's treehouse. This issue is personal for him. Pooping in another's playhouse just isn't my style. :)

    I will say in response to this from the Argus:

    Educators said, however, that the money already approved should still be available, though not under what they consider to be Daugaard’s unworkable terms. “We need a seat at the table to develop a plan that is good for students and schools,” Mehlbrech said. “First of all, we’d like to be at the table.”

    1) If through the efforts of the teachers to get this referred and the plan is killed, I do not support spending the money for education. The Governor dedicated the money to reform education. They don't like the reform, fine. But they don't get the money either.

    2) Educators have been front and center on all matters education over the last 50 years while the state of education has declined. It is time OTHERS get to the table as well. SDEA was invited to the table, they didn't like it, so they went home. Reminds me of my grandson the other night who left the dinner table and then cried later when he was hungry.

    Sorry, CH. I pooped in your treehouse didn't I. :(

  42. caheidelberger Post author | 2012.06.20

    Let me get my pooper-scooper.

    The issue is also professional and political. I want what is good for the teaching profession, for the public school system that is educating my daughter, and for South Dakota. HB 1234 does no good for any of them.

    The state of education in South Dakota has not declined. That's the assumption on which HB 1234 rests, and it's not true. Show me which public school in South Dakota is broken. Madison HS? West Elementary in Spearfish? Sioux Falls Roosevelt? What's broken?

    What real reform does HB 1234 seek? What different, better teaching strategies does it require teachers to adopt? What improvements does it make in the actual delivery of service? The answer: none! Consider the merit pay provision. Suppose in 2015, 20% of the teachers in West Central have students who get A's on the standardized tests, while 80% of the teachers have kids who score lower. Those top 20% get the $5000 bonuses. Suppose in 2016, there's a general decline in results. The top 20% of teachers have students who get B's on the tests, but the other 80% have kids who get even lower scores. The top 20% still get the bonus, although the net performance of the school as measured by tests was worse. Never mind that bonuses don't work; under HB 1234, they aren't even keyed to improved performance over time.

    HB 1234 isn't about improving student achievement. It's about an ideological dig at teachers, at public unions, and at public schools.

  43. Erika 2012.06.20

    And now for some fun with acronyms!

    The Governor's Plan for Ineffective Merit Pay (PIMP) Bill
    The Governor's Forced Increased Standardized Testing (FIST) Bill
    The Student Testing Used for Profit and Ineffective Disbursement (STUPID) Bill

    Also: "16: More bitter than sweet."

  44. caheidelberger Post author | 2012.06.20

    Now that effort, Erika! Start making posters!

  45. Troy 2012.06.20

    Cory, I'm not going to poop in your treehouse. I think this bill is good for students and teachers. We disagree. But, to think this is a petty dig is foolish. Have a great summer.

  46. Jana 2012.06.20

    Troy, other than all this pooping...why do you think this is good for students and teachers?

    Oh and I like the pooping in the sandbox metaphor better than pooping in a treehouse.

  47. Troy 2012.06.20


    Sandbox/treehouse. LOL Mixing my metaphors.

    I have outlined my views here many times. I think you have even responded. In short:

    1) I believe acknowledging high performers lifts all overall performance. I also believe equal pay for unequal performance depresses overall performance.
    2) I believe we have a budding science math challenge with regards to entrants and competition from private employment that requires special attention.
    3) I believe the citizen boards gets a broader perspective in education policy.
    4) I believe in giving management a broad toolbox in managing, including compensation bonus'.

  48. caheidelberger Post author | 2012.06.20

    Troy, go listen to Daniel Pink again. He trumps your belief with fact: merit bonuses don't work. Talk to your school superintendent: she'll tell you we face at least as much trouble getting English and Special Ed teachers as math and science, maybe more.

  49. Aldo 2012.06.20

    If merit bonuses don't work, why are they regularly, and successfully, used in the private sector where employers have a choice to give merit bonuses or not?

  50. caheidelberger Post author | 2012.06.20

    Ideological blinders? Failure to rigorously evaluate the "success" of said bonuses?

    Of course, I suppose we could flip the argument and ask why across South Dakota, where school districts have a choice to give merit bonuses or not, none have implemented such a policy?

  51. Aldo 2012.06.20

    I don't suggest that based on ideology (what ideology deals with productivity?) but reason. Flat pay and flat bonuses motivate people to get by. Merit pay and merit bonuses motivate people to excel.

    I imagine fear is why school districts don't use merit to determine pay. And, school districts are not judged as corporate managers are judged.

  52. Jana 2012.06.20

    Fair enough Troy and I respect your beliefs even though I think we disagree on both the motives of this bill and the efficacy of what has been proposed.

    Out of curiosity, do you think that HB1234 solves the biggest problems we have with schools in South Dakota?

  53. Carter 2012.06.20

    The issue with 1234 isn't so much the idea that the best teachers should be payed more. Just like the best everything, they obviously should. But..

    1) Teacher pay in South Dakota is laughably low. Why any teacher would come to South Dakota to teach is beyond me, when they could get a job almost anywhere else in the country for more money. We need to increase all teachers' salaries to at least meet the national average before we focus on paying more to the best teachers.

    2) The evaluation method put forth in 1234 is moronic. I doubt you'll find a single good teacher who approves of standardized testing on any level. Math and science university professors certainly don't approve. Without experience in the system, as either a student or a teacher (or both), I can understand how it would be hard to see the failing of standardized testing, but they're many, and they're large.

    If someone can come up with a method of evaluating teachers that isn't standardized testing, and is also accurate and fair, then I'll consider agreeing with merit pay, but as long as the evaluation method favors the mediocre, dispassionate teachers, I'll never say a good thing about HB 1234.

  54. caheidelberger Post author | 2012.06.20

    No, Aldo, merit pay really doesn't promote excellence. Schools don't use it because research and empirical results say it doesn't work.

  55. caheidelberger Post author | 2012.06.20

    Good grief, Jana: in that report you cite, ALEC likens the public schools to the KKK (p. 10).

  56. Aldo 2012.06.20


    I didn't say merit pay promotes excellence. I said it motivates people to excel. There's a difference.

    I've seen it work and, the fact that corporations who are objectively motivated to improve quality and productivity consistently use it to improve quality and productivity.

    I suspect merit pay done right would motivate a teacher just as it would a customer service rep., manager, sales person, analyst, etc.

  57. D.E. Bishop 2012.06.20

    "Sacrificing Students and Schools" bill.

  58. Troy Jones 2012.06.20


    We have discussed Pink and I think him a quack. Bad methodology.

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