Last updated on 2014.03.19
Addressing the House Education Committee in Pierre this morning, Secretary of Education Melody Schopp fielded a question about how she feels about Teach for America, the national non-profit that, by her off-the-cuff count, places about 100 young college graduates in two-year teaching positions in South Dakota. (TfA's South Dakota webpage says they have 65 teachers in South Dakota this year.)
Secretary Schopp praised Teach for America. The Secretary said Teach for America fills a gap that South Dakota could not fill any other way.
Teach for America quantifies that gap thus:
By 2015, corps members will teach half of the Native students in our state and two thirds of Native students living on South Dakota reservations [Teach for America South Dakota webpage, downloaded 2014.01.15].
So let me see if I have this right: Secretary Schopp says that South Dakota cannot to provide qualified teachers for half of our American Indian kids.
Can not or will not? That's over 7,000 students the South Dakota Department of Education is writing off.
Teach for America may be doing fine work, but instead of counting on TfA to fill the gap, Secretary Schopp should take a refresher course on Daugaardian self-reliance (hey, did Dennis use that phrase in yesterday's speech?) and figure out what South Dakota would do to teach those 7,000+ students if Teach for America didn't have our backs.