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Tricky Hickey Misreads Electorate to Justify Low Teacher Pay, Guns in Schools

Rep. Rev. Steve Hickey (R-9/Sioux Falls) is a tricky rhetorician. He clearly enjoys grabbing his opponents by the arguments and using their logic against them... or at leas the logic he wishfully imputes to them.

Here are two examples from one of his weekend updates:

To me the most noteworthy thing in the State of the State, as it relates to controversy, was that there was no mention of paying teachers more. But, what is there to say? Voters in November said no to three different strategies to pay teachers more and the Governor obviously is respecting the will of the voters. And so education funding is basically at a standstill [Rep. Rev. Steve Hickey, "Trying to Create Early Controversy," Voices Carry, 2013.01.12].

Wait—three different strategies? There was Referred Law 16, a pile of pedagogically unsound, research-refuted proposals from the Governor that would have done all harm and no good for South Dakota's K-12 schools. There was Initiated Measure 15, the regressive extra-penny sales tax measure that would have sent $90 million to the schools, none of it earmarked for salaries. That's two strategies; what's the third— elect a Democratic majority to the Legislature?

Contrary to Rep. Hickey's absurd oversimplification, RL 16 and IM 15 failed at the polls for numerous reasons, not solely because some South Dakotans want to keep paying the lowest teacher salaries in the nation. We did not give the Governor a mandate not to talk about education in his State of the State address. We told him to keep talking about education, but to talk about fair ideas that may actually work.

Rep. Hickey's second specious attempt at verbal judo comes as he turns to discussion of his impending "School Sentinel" bill, a sop to gun nuts who want to affirm their John Wayne fantasies by letting local school boards arm their teachers and janitors:

...the legislature won't be designing a one-size fits all school safety program but will merely be letting each district design their own plan with the requirement that whatever they seek to design and implement that it be "interfaced with local law enforcement." The type of plan to arm school employees, or hire security personal, or volunteers is something to be discussed and decided by school boards. No teacher or employee will be asked to be a part of any additional security plan without their free, willing and voluntary consent. Section five basically provides that a school board can decide not to design a school sentinel program and they are not liable to a cause of action charging they did not do more to protect kids.

I'm not sure I like the last part of that but here's the thing… all those who were screaming last year for local control of schools have it right here in this bill. The debate about additional guns in schools will now shift to the local school boards if this passes [Hickey, 2013.01.12].

Sigh. Local control is great when we have a panoply of viable policy alternatives that will produce differing results in different local conditions. Local control is bad when the Legislature wants to wash its hands of an issue and let school boards do something really stupid, dangerous, and counterproductive.

In both cases, Rep. Hickey is misreading last year's policy arguments to justify the continuation or creation of bad policy. Instead of playing word games and trying to win debates in his head with last year's electorate, Rep. Hickey should focus on crafting workable policies to produce real improvements in education.


  1. owen reitzel 2013.01.13

    "We did not give the Governor a mandate not to talk about education in his State of the State address. We told him to keep talking about education, but to talk about fair ideas that may actually work."

    I agree with you wholeheartly Cory but I'll add that the Governor has to not only keep talking about education he has to talk education with educators. Who knows more about education? That's something he didn't do last year.

  2. grudznick 2013.01.13

    They tried to pay good teachers more but the public grew tired of the complaining about Then you tried to tax others more for your raises and the public stomped on that new tax like a cigar butt on the shag rug. Now this year the schools aren't the center of attention and they're still whining. Sheesh.

  3. larry kurtz 2013.01.13

    Propose your own solutions then, Pat.

  4. grudznick 2013.01.13

    Yes, I too would like to see Mr. H's solutions. Bring bills to the legislatures instead of complaining that people aren't talking about teachers.

  5. owen reitzel 2013.01.13

    "They tried to pay good teachers more but the public grew tired of the complaining about"
    Whats a good teacher grud? I don't think people grew tired-they voted a bad bill down.
    I agree that bills should be brought to the legislature and they would be shot down by the Republicans.
    what's needed is leadership from the Governor and that's not going to happen.

  6. Steve Hickey 2013.01.13

    The three strategies to get additional monies to Ed which were rejected by the voters were 1) Ed Reform bill which was based on the reality that we couldn't get a raise to everyone but we will get a raise to some 2) The penny tax increase - voters made it real clear they don't want a tax increase even if it's designated expressly to Ed 3) Large project fund - this was an attempt to prime a revenue generating pump which would result in more money available in the general fund for Ed. My point is with these three different strategies failing we are at a standstill in Ed funding. No tricky rhetoric there. It's starting to humor me to hear people simplistically say; just divert more money to Ed. Ya, right, it's that simple. Which nursing homes should we close to get a bigger pay raise to teachers?

    I'm not clear on your objection to each school district having the freedom to add increase security if they want it. Are you saying you'd rather the legislature develop a viable policy that fits all SD districts? There's no local control there.

    btw, I'm hearing from regular people - parents - not gun nuts. These are people who think gun free zones are dangerous places for their kids and they expect schools to make the changes necessary to ensure the safety of their children. This debate needs to happen at the local school board level so you can show up with your reasons to reject additional security and others can show up and make a case for it. The last thing we need is a mandate from Pierre either way on this matter. There are districts and Principals who want armed security in their buildings. These aren't gun nuts which you would quickly see if I named a few of them.

  7. Jana 2013.01.13

    Once again, Republicans handle rejection by 1st calling voters stupid and lazy, and then crafting analysis based on vapor to interpret voter intent to fit their own narrative.

    With regards to arming teachers and turning schools into armed camps...what caliber would Jesus use?

    Would teacher evaluations then be weighted by how well they performed at the shooting range in live combat situations?

    So on top of school supplies, should teachers add $1000 sidearms and $1000's in ammo and training to their own out of pocket expenses?

    Just think of the new international educational trips the kids could go on now. They could raise money by asking businesses to write checks to them so they could travel to see what schools are like in civilized societies.

    Still love ya Pastor Steve, but focus on the government sanctioned sins of usury and gambling.

  8. Jana 2013.01.13

    Pastor Steve, do you seriously think that the primary premise of the ed reform bill was to give teachers more money?

  9. Rorschach 2013.01.13

    The guy who put HB1234 over the top is now all of a sudden in favor of local control?

    The guy who wanted to declare open season on suing churches for transgressions that may or may not have happened 60 years ago now favors limiting lawsuits for new transgressions?

    It would be refreshing if the inconsistent Rep. Hickey would flip flop one more time and favor consistency.

  10. Charlie Johnson 2013.01.13

    You are way off base, Mr. Hickey
    It is up to the legislature to come up with a viable tax/revenue stream to finance schools. Increasing funding to education not only involves better salaries for educators. Better staffing levels and course offerings is part of the process also. As for guns in the school--it's not going to happen. What has become of ourselves that this even considered.

  11. owen reitzel 2013.01.13

    How were you going to judge what teachers are going to get a raise? That was part of the problem sir. It's not cut and dried and people saw that.
    Your right. People didn't want to see their taxes increase. As far as the large project fund people didn't want that money taken from Ed and given to big business. It's wouldn't have been a revenue pump and its a sad day when you pit nursing homes against education.
    I have no problem with letting local scool boards decide security. But more guns in schools is crazy, Nothing but trouble can come from that. The problem is the guns. The people I've talked to say that arming school officals wouldn't be a good idea. Maybe the only people you talk Rev. Hickey are members of the NRA,

  12. grudznick 2013.01.13

    Nursing homes and education and project refunds all fight for a bigger piece of the same pie. Why do you think when schools tried to gouge our taxes up 25% last year they tied part of the money to nursing homes too? They wanted them on board with getting some of the pie. Now next time you try and raise my taxes make sure that you share the pie with everybody and you will not have me to argue about you raising my taxes just for you. I may be in a nursing home by then but I will still say don't raise taxes on everybody just for your special interests. Don't do it.

  13. Steve Hickey 2013.01.13

    Jana, yes, that was certainly one objective. In this Republucan controlled legislature the key to getting more money to schools is to tie it to measureables. Education is inherently measurable and someone somewhere knows how best to do it.

    Rorschach, no flip flopping. I saw lots of local control in HB1234. Even so, the legislature has every right to require outcomes when taxpayer dollars are spent.

    But that's all history and its a new year, and my assessment is we are at a standstill on Ed funding. Charlie says here its up to the legislature to figure it out. Easy to say from where he sits. The reality is voters don't want to pay more, they dont want dollars spend to entice revenue generating business here, and the legislature has no wiggle room in the budget to divert any significant dollars on an ongoing basis. When times were good, 2003-2006 for example, $150,000,000 dollars were given to Ed over the formula requirement. Those millions never translate to increasing teacher pay.

  14. Steve Hickey 2013.01.13

    Please pardon the spelling and typos. I'm on my iPhone and need new bifocals to boot.

  15. Michael Black 2013.01.13

    If you want to give more money to education then make it a priority to do so.

    The budget is the very first thing the legislature needs to pass instead of waiting until the final days of the session. There is NO excuse for this.

    If you want to attract more businesses for economic growth, then support lower tuition for higher ed. Students have no choice to leave the state for jobs that will allow them to pay off student loans.

  16. Charlie Johnson 2013.01.13

    Mr. Hickey, you were elected to the legislature. Education by all measures is underfunded. Perhaps you need to serve on a school board before you run for a legislative office again. In the meantime, you have the constitutional responsibility to fully fund education. BTW--it isn't easy from where I sit from to watch legislators like you fail education.

  17. Steve Hickey 2013.01.13

    Serve on the school board? Being married for two plus decades to one of these low paid teachers and having three kids go all they way through public school on Sioux Falls has more than acquainted me with situation. Ed is underfunded, no argument with me there. Now we are back to our standstill- substantial increases aren't doable for all the above mentioned reasons.

    Passing the budget early in the session cuts out all input from anyone who needs time to present a case for a greater piece of the pie.

  18. grudznick 2013.01.13

    I am sorry Mr. H my memory is not what it was last year. It seems you have indeed blogged some ideas. You should put them in a bill and send them to the legislatures and let them vote.

  19. Michael Black 2013.01.13

    Working on a budget early means that it gets the attention it deserves. We don't need hundreds upon hundreds of unnecessary bills distracting from what is important.

    Have you ever heard the saying: No one is safe when the legislature is in session.

  20. Jana 2013.01.13

    I'm with you on the bi-focals and iPhones pastor Steve.

    I think that higher teacher pay for some may have been a secondary objective, but it was tied to the larger goal of destroying collective bargaining, eliminating due process in the firing teachers and upholding an image.

    Are you really thinking that when the Governor's education bill passed that Dusty and Tony were high-fiving like they won the Super Bowl because it meant some teachers would get more pay? Good one.

    From where I sit, the GOP sees education as a necessary and inconvenient evil. And by necessary, I mean constitutionally required.

    I'm also thinking that the Republicans use measurables like drunks use lampposts...more for support than illumination.

    BTW, what were the measurables for the large project fund?

    The measurable I heard used the most was that to compete we had to have what other state's had in terms of money/bribes to give to big business.

    Can we use that same measurable for K-12 and Higher Ed?

  21. mike 2013.01.13

    Hickey is a big government Republican. Social conservative all the way (which means in every ones business) and then he also wants to spend like a big spending R.

  22. Charlie Johnson 2013.01.13

    Good comments, Jana. Since we now agree, Mr Hickey, that education is underfunded, then it's the legislature's job to create the funding mechanism to help the situation. Simply saying it's a problem that can't be solved is not a solution or a viable position.

  23. caheidelberger Post author | 2013.01.13

    Well, Steve, if the problem is money, how about rustling up $290 million from the big bankers by passing HB 1045?

  24. Jana 2013.01.13

    I'll back up Mr. Hickey to the extent that he is willing to put his views out there and engage in the debate...and Pastor, I apologize if sometimes my remarks have an edge that is less than polite.

  25. Michael Black 2013.01.13

    As we slowly change to a welfare state, education will have to compete for funds when unemployment rates climb. We probably have more funding now than we will see in the future. Technology will be the driving force in getting things done with less human input.

  26. Rorschach 2013.01.13

    SD has $1 billion+/- locked up in trust funds. We lost a few hundred million on the stock market, but spending just a few million extra on education (which will circulate over and over creating a multiplier effect in SD's economy)? Nope. Wall Street first, SD second.

    Likewise, we could import more money to cover more people with medicaid, but the GOP would rather have poor people without medical care and the SD economy without the extra money.

    The GOP is all ideology, all for the rich and rich corporations, all the time. We will get nowhere with economic development in SD until the GOP recognizes that you build the economy from the bottom up - not from the top down. A populace (and workforce) that is educated and healthy is the foundation for growth.

  27. Donald Pay 2013.01.13

    Steven Hickey said: "In this Republucan controlled legislature the key to getting more money to schools is to tie it to measureables. Education is inherently measurable and someone somewhere knows how best to do it."

    Here's the problem with this statement---it's bullshit. The Republicans have had total control of South Dakota's government for most of the last 40 years. If education is so bad, aren't Republicans responsible for that?

    Republicans have pushed and passed various reform efforts over those years. Where are the studies that provide some measure of accountability for those Republican-led education reform efforts?

    The Department of Ed has about thirty years of data which it has dutifully collected, yet somehow none of that data is ever used to "measure" (in Hickey's words) the effectiveness of past Republican reform measures.

    What's worse, this data is never mined by the Pierre educrats, let alone any Legislators, to come up with any research-based reform ideas. They always go to some out-of-state peddlar of the latest educrat bullshit for advise. Lately it has been the extremist ALEC affiliated organizations. What they ought to do is do their own research with data we've already paid for.

    Let me tell you, districts do some of this research, and use the research to make changes. Rapid City schools did this. But the state just blows them off when we come looking for money to implement anything. The best thing that could happen is to fire all the Pierre educrats dole that money out to the districts.

  28. Douglas Wiken 2013.01.13

    I really don't like to see "reform" tacked onto crap retrograde legislation based on GOP mythology.

  29. Jana 2013.01.13

    Bob Mercer has an interesting bit of history that I'd forgotten when Republican Governor Mickelson passed a one cent sales tax to spend on business. Heck, it appears that the GOP doesn't mind a tax.

    Mr. Mercer points out that there weren't any measurables for the projects other than cost.

    I bring that up for Rep/Rev Hickey's benefit since he brought up the whole measurable thing. Can you see why we are skeptical?

    Here's a link to Mr. Mercer's story:

    Here's the link he provided to the companies that benefited from the tax:

  30. caheidelberger Post author | 2013.01.14

    Rep. Hickey contends that the voters have spoken and don't want to spend more money on education; I wonder if he will cite our vote against Referred Law 14 (which he stretchily portrays as the third strategy we turned down to increase funding for education) as evidence that we don't want to spend money on corporate welfare and vote against the $5 million dollars tucked into HB 1060 to pay for the Governor's promises to big corporations.

  31. Rorschach 2013.01.14

    Cory, you know Rep. Hickey only selectively hears what the voters say when they speak. And much of what he hears he misconstrues to fit his preconceived positions on issues. To Rep. Hickey, more education funding - bad. More corporate welfare - good. It's just a matter of priorities.

  32. Steve Sibson 2013.01.14

    "With regards to arming teachers and turning schools into armed camps...what caliber would Jesus use?"

    Jana, I agree, let Jesus run the schools. All schools must now become Christian in order to receive funding from the government. Thanks Jana.

  33. Steve Sibson 2013.01.14

    "Ed is underfunded, no argument with me there."

    Mr. Hickey, I agree with most of your positions here, but I disagree with the premsie that education is underfunded. If we remove the New Age's social engineering and do what Jana proposes...let Jesus run the schools, the costs would drop dramatically.

  34. Jana 2013.01.14

    Bill's are delusional. I said "what caliber would Jesus use?"

  35. Steve Sibson 2013.01.14

    Jana, you can't have your cake and eat it too. Either Jesus is an issue with the schools or not. You opened the door.

  36. Bill Fleming 2013.01.14

    Jesus isn't going to run the public schools, Sibby. Now go take your lithium and a nap. And don't forget to eat your peas.

  37. Steve Sibson 2013.01.14

    "Jesus isn't going to run the public schools, Sibby."

    That was Jana's bright idea Bill. Don't you think things would be going much better if we would allow Jesus to run the schools?

  38. Jana 2013.01.14

    Incredible Sibby...just incredible. No rabbit holes today old friend.

  39. grudznick 2013.01.14

    The Jesus I envision would use a Ruger Super Redhawk Alaskan chambered for 454 Casull. That's the same thing the Jesus that I envision would harvest 78 more kitties with this winter.

  40. Bill Fleming 2013.01.14

    And my picture is, Jesus takes out his soft lambskin slingshot and whips it around his head a few times with no rock in it, just to get it going a good lick.

    Then he commences whuppin' up on your skinny old gravy-eatin buttcheeks, Grudznick, sendin' you a ki-yi-in' and a ki-yi-in' back into your grubby little adobe hut with your sandals on fire.

  41. grudznick 2013.01.14

    In your picture does my grubby little adobe hut have a plain plastic shower curtain for a door, Mr. Fleming, or one with a design on it?

  42. Bill Fleming 2013.01.14

    It's an el cheapo "Don't Tread On Me" snaky flag thingy, grudz. Probably made in China, I'm thinking. And it's missing a few hooks.

  43. grudznick 2013.01.14

    That's the way I imagine it will be, too.

  44. caheidelberger Post author | 2013.01.15

    You know, Sibby, in most regards, Jesus, or at least his principles, do run my classroom. Be good to each other, be honest, help each other, don't fight, don't carry weapons....

  45. Steve Sibson 2013.01.15

    Cory, Matthew 10:34:

    34 “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.

  46. Steve Sibson 2013.01.15

    ""With regards to arming teachers and turning schools into armed camps...what caliber would Jesus use?""

    So based on Matthew 10:34, the answer would probably be a 50 Cal. Yes Jana, it is time to put Jesus back in charge of the schools. Thanks for digging the hole this time.

  47. Steve Sibson 2013.01.15

    Jana, Cory, and Bill:

    Your Jesus is not the Jesus of the Bible, it is the New Age Jesus. Your Jesus is not real, but an illusion probably caused by taking too many meds.

  48. Bill Fleming 2013.01.15

    Mattew 25:52 (To St. Peter) "Then said Jesus unto him, Put up again thy sword into his place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword."

    Jesus then put the guys ear back on (which Peter had cut off) and healed him.

    See also Matthew 5:9 "Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God."

    Sibby, maybe Jesus is trying to tell you that he's the only one who gets to have a sword and that it's not your job to play God.

  49. Steve Sibson 2013.01.15

    "Sibby, maybe Jesus is trying to tell you that he's the only one who gets to have a sword and that it's not your job to play God."

    Maybe Jesus is saying the he can't be killed by the sword, and neither will anybody who follows Him and has eternal life. Death in the flesh versus the second death. So Bill, do you want to start debating with Old Testament verses? Shall we start with David vs Goliath?

    And Bill, are the gun control advocates peacemakers, or are they giving fertile ground (gun-free zones) for the evil acts that are killing the "children of God"? And how many of those gun control advocates also support the killing of the "children of God" in Planned Parenthood abortion mills?

  50. Steve Sibson 2013.01.15

    Bill, if an armed citizen had shot the Newtown killer seconds after the windows where shot out brought "peace" and saved 20 children lives versus they themselves killed in the process to protect the children of God? If we understand that through Jesus Christ death in the flesh has no hold on us because of the spiritual life-giving of Jesus Christ, then dying in the flesh by the sword is a mute point.

  51. Bill Fleming 2013.01.15

    So Sibby you are basically saying that the murder of those Newtown children didn't mean anything to you. That it's 'mute point. That's just plain old religious fanatic bullshit.

  52. Bill Fleming 2013.01.15

    Thank goodness we have Sibby here to show us close up and personal what right wing crazy looks like. If you were to try to just tell someone how they think and what they say, no one would believe it.

  53. Steve Sibson 2013.01.15

    "So Sibby you are basically saying that the murder of those Newtown children didn't mean anything to you. That it's 'mute point."

    No Bill, that is not what I am saying. For those kids who had not accepted Chirst, it was very much NOT a mute point. The odds of that condition is very high considering the New Age anti-Christian public school system they were in. What I said was toward a Christian, to have put a stop to the shooting and allowing the unsaved more time to find Jesus Christ (the real one, not the New Age one), and that he himself dying would have been a mute point because death of the flesh is not the same as the second death. What matters at the end is if you are in the Book of Life. See the Book of Revelation.

    Bill, are you afraid of death? I know you are afraid of the truth.

  54. larry kurtz 2013.01.15

    That's so offensive it should get you banned from Madville, Sibson.

  55. Steve Sibson 2013.01.15

    Larry the pot, see the kettle.

  56. Bill Fleming 2013.01.15

    No Sibby I'm not afraid of either the truth or death. You on the other hand appear to be 100% fear driven on both fronts and completely consumed by ego narcissism and paranoid schizophrenia. Get. Help. Now.

  57. Steve Sibson 2013.01.15

    Larry, thanks for proving my point.

    Bill, no thanks for ignoring my points.

  58. Bill Fleming 2013.01.15

    You didn't make any points, Sibby. You rarely do. Mostly, you just contradict yourself and then get upset and hurt when we point out your imbecility.

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