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Legislature Pulls Funding for Teach for America

One line in David Montgomery's coverage of the state budget catches my attention:

Lawmakers voted down plenty of other spending proposals — frequently saying they would like to say yes but didn’t have the money. Out of luck were Teach for America, Jobs For America’s Graduates, senior citizen meal providers and college scholarships [David Montgomery, "Legislature: Budget Help for Teachers, Low-Income South Dakotans," that Sioux Falls paper, 2014.03.15].

No state money for Teach for America, the program that is on track to teach half of South Dakota's Native American students next year? Really?

I check the hopper: sure enough. Last month, Senator Phyllis Heineman (R-13/Sioux Falls) pitched Senate Bill 127 to her colleagues. SB 127 would have given Teach for America (TFA) $500,000 to support its efforts in largely Native American schools in South Dakota. Senate State Affairs (not Senate Education?) heard South Dakota TFA exec Jim Curran, Ponca tribal member and Lower Brule TFA teacher Bryce Drapeaux, and McLaughlin elementary principal Angie Thunker. Principal Thunker said McLaughlin is in its first year with TFA staff. She says McLaughlin has eight TFA recruits doing great work in her community and boosting student performance.

But the big schools, school administrators, and the Governor's finance folks testifed against SB 127. The Pine Ridge delegation split, with Rep. Kevin Killer supporting TFA and Senator Jim Bradford opposing. SB 127 made it out of committee by one vote, then foundered in the Senate, where it failed on two tries to get the two-thirds vote necessary to pass a spending bill.

Senator Heineman returned during last week's budget debate to ask Joint Appropriations to squeeze $250,000 into the FY2015 budget for TFA. The committee did not add that money to the budget.

Senator Heineman testified that South Dakota's past financial support of Teach for America boosted the program's reputation and private fundraising. She noted that TFA has 66 active members teaching in South Dakota. In addition, 52 TFA alumni have chosen to stay in South Dakota, and 35 of them are still teaching on the reservations. "If we're looking for a program for New South Dakotans," said Senator Heineman in front of Senate State Affairs on February 5, "TFA has been a great recruiting tool, and it's been at a pretty good bargain."

The Legislature's rejection of TFA funding means we will likely see fewer of those new South Dakotans. Staff is the major expense for TFA, just as it is for K-12 schools in general. Jim Curran tells me that TFA will likely have to bring fewer teachers to South Dakota schools next year, but they will persevere and continue to serve the state.

I remain uneasy about the possibility of Teach for America providing short-sighted school districts with an easy fiscal out for laying off experienced teachers and replacing them with cheaper TFA staff. I'm open to a discussion about the effectiveness of TFA teachers regular classroom teachers.

While I don't view Teach for America as an optimal solution (neither does passionate teacher Drapeaux, who says TFA is not perfect, nor Curran, who told Senate State Affairs that TFA is not the solution to all educational problems), cutting state funding for TFA in the absence of a better replacement is irresponsible. If the Legislature found some better program to support K-12 education in Indian Country, I'd be happy to see our measly $250,000 go there and a lot more. But I see no such new or expanded Indian education initiative in the FY 2015 budget. Heck, the Legislature couldn't even come up with $65,000 to help the Board of Regents hire one person to help Native students get into university.

State Education Secretary Melody Schopp has declared that South Dakota just can't educate all of its 14,000+ Native American students and that Teach for America fills an otherwise unfillable gap. Refusing to pay even a part of Teach for America's costs for filling that gap adds their young teachers to the big poll of educators whom our Legislature exploits, taking advantage of their energy and skills but not paying for the value they contribute.


  1. rick 2014.03.17

    Republicans love the mythological America, but they hate Americans. Worse than Americans, they hate Native Americans.

  2. Deb Geelsdottir 2014.03.17

    Teach for America is very controversial in MN, a fairly wealthy state compared to SD. Some support it. The teacher's union, Education Minnesota, is strongly opposed. They make several arguments:

    1. TFAs are poorly trained and less skilled than those with a 4 year degree expressly in education. I believe TFA training is similar to what teachers received in mid-century western states, including SD. High school graduation and summer school certified one to teach. Such teachers filled rural schools especially. They were derisively nicknamed "6 Week Wonders." My mother was one. She followed the accepted female trail of the 50s. Teach a few years, get married and quit the classroom to raise a family.

    2. TFAs offer no continuity. They'll teach for a year or two and move on, probably to some other field.

    3. TFAs will be used to undermine teacher salaries and cripple their union. That's because new teachers are rarely as effective as more seasoned ones. As a former teacher myself, I can attest to how bad I was the first year or so.

    That's it, in general. I agree with their points, and I'm sure there are occasionally exceptions to the experience rule. Rare exceptions of novice teachers who seem born to it, naturals. Hooray for them.

  3. grudznick 2014.03.17

    I was going to lend my support to not increasing payments for these teachers. (I'm still not clear if they are real teachers or substitutes without teaching degrees.) But when Ms. Geelsdottir/ reports, and I do respect her reporting, that the heinous teacher unions in Minnesota are against these Teachers for America I have to go back and reconsider a bit. If the HTU hate these TFAs, maybe there's something good there after all.

  4. Sam Hurst 2014.03.17

    Like most issues facing Lakota communities, these comments are offered without a shred of real knowledge or information. Let's talk basics. TFA/SD supports their corps members joining SDEA. Many do. This is revealing considering that SDEA doesn't do a single thing to recruit "properly credentialed" teachers to teach on the reservations. Nor does it do a good job of supporting its own members who work on reservations. Nor does it have any programs to prepare Lakota college students for a career in teaching. TFA does.

    Secondly, a large percentage of TFA corp members don't just "pass through." They complete their two-year contracts and stay. There are over 30 TFA alumni teaching on the reservations right now. Several are approaching 8 years of experience. Many others, who would love to stay in South Dakota, can't get jobs commensurate with their education or ambition. Big surprise. South Dakota drives out young professionals with ambition.

    Third, TFA corps members are explicitly focused on closing the achievement gap and preparing their students for college and career. That's more than can be said for a century of educational neglect that preceded TFA.

    Fourth, the so-called "six week wonders" not only go through intense summer training before they begin to teach, but they also are mentored much more rigorously than regular classroom teachers with BHSU or USD credentials. TFA corps members go through weekly monitoring, review, and accountability by mentors, continuing education in Lakota culture and history at Sinte Gleska and OLC, and on-going professional training paid for and organized by TFA. It is worth noting that the selection process to get in to TFA is much, much more rigorous than getting into a South Dakota education school, so someone who graduates with a four-year degree in physics or biology or history or English from a major American university, with a proven record of leadership and extracurricular activities, and is accepted into TFA, should not be looked down on. We are lucky to have them, and shame on us for creating an environment that devalues education with low salaries, indifference, and an anti-intellectual culture. That's on us, not on TFA.

    I find it curious that BHSU is a teacher's college, but has made no effort to bring TFA corps members into their program, or taken the initiative to study how effective TFA corps members are compared to regular education school graduates. Some traditionalists look down on TFA, but they should understand that TFA corps members who have enrolled in programs at BHSU consider them laughable and incompetent compared to the undergraduate education these TFAers have already been through. Traditionalists should beware of the comparison. They may not like the results.

    There is one more, final point. The notion that TFA in South Dakota is taking jobs that would otherwise go to well-qualified, union teachers is just ignorant Legislators, especially Democrats, who peddle that argument should be called out. Right now, today, a qualified teacher could walk in the front door of Todd County School District and get a job. Same on Pine Ridge. At the beginning of every school year there are dozens!!! of job openings for qualified teachers on the reservations. Hello!!! Anyone want a job? The truth is that TFA fills open positions because so-called qualified teachers don't have the "right stuff" to take on the challenge. If TFA is forced to cut back, the consequences are simple…larger classes and classrooms staffed by un-credentialed substitutes. If TFA leaves, who will step up? If critics don't approve of TFA, great, build an alternative and make it happen…that's what TFA did.

  5. grudznick 2014.03.17

    Mr. Hurst seems to be saying the regular teachers just aren't cutting it and TFA could replace them. Maybe cheaper. The legislatures should have given the $250,000 to the TFA people and kept the $2,200,000 that the real teachers are thumbing their noses at and saying they want to give to other charities because it just isn't enough on top of their 3% raises. We could hire 8 times as many Teachers for America with the money being pooh-poohed by Mr. Lis. That's a lot of teachers.

  6. Deb Geelsdottir 2014.03.17

    Grudz, I enjoy your "logic"(?).

    Sam, MN is in a different place educationally than SD. We have a Democratic House, Senate and Governor. With a budget surplus this year, state government is putting more money into education. It's a big priority here. There is no teacher shortage.

    BTW, "Six Week Wonders" is what they called them in the 1950s. SD had many to alleviate a post-WW II teacher shortage. I don't know if that's true now.

    Sam, how is it that you have so much info on TFA? What is your source? Mine is reporting the arguments I read in the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

    You are definitely right about the teacher shortage in SD, especially in res towns. I taught one year on the Crow Creek Res. Wonderful, talented students. Very difficult environment for them. Perverse, racist, white superintendent. He was why I left.

  7. Donald Pay 2014.03.17

    Hmmm. These sorts of votes clearly show the misplace priorities of South Dakota's leaders. The amount of money not provided to TFA about equaled the amount provided for the studies for Daugaard's nuke dump.

  8. Steve O'Brien 2014.03.17

    TFA fills a much needed need when they place their instructors. TFA is also a band-aid: a short term solution to a deep seeded problem of teacher recruitment and retention in SD (especially the reservation schools). An honest delving into that problem is needed to create lasting solutions to that teacher shortage - a shortage that will play out in more and more areas in our state.

    I worry that the TFA model of "turn them and burn them" looks at teaching as a "public service" or short-term prospect when the better solution would to be to create a professional long-term model that rewards commitment to teaching and teachers. Keeping costs minimized and not investing for the long-term in education will be our states downfall.

  9. Steve O'Brien 2014.03.17

    grudznick, just wondering if there is any real issue behind your flippant dismissal of teacher unions, or if FOX news now has set up a transponder to this blog through you for its "talking points" and slights.

    The friction often between TFA and unions is that it is a short-term versus long-term look at teaching. If teaching is a sort-term public service as the TFA model promotes (although some do stay longer, the TFA commitment is short-term) then schools get to keep costs down by not investing in professional teachers who plan to stay and develop as professionals, TFA does not create a career out of the education of children. Unions believe that a professional teaching model, and the financial commitments needed to perpetuate that model, are the best things for the education of our children by putting well-educated professionals committed to teaching as a life-time career in classrooms and on paths to stay involved, to continue to improve, and to advance. Unions make perspective teachers want to not only teach today, but also to want to stay teaching 20 years from now.

    It is the recruitment and retention debate that we continue to skirt in SD.

  10. Sam Hurst 2014.03.17

    No one that I have ever met proposes that TFA is a permanent or even an "adequate" solution. It is a bandaid, and TFA is no substitute for a serious public commitment to PUBLIC education. I do not make the argument that "regular teachers just aren't cutting it." I make the argument that neither "regular teachers" nor the union are interested in teaching on South Dakota reservations. That is a proven historical fact. The Lakota reservations in South Dakota cannot sustain a teaching work force. That is the core of the problem. And the state of South Dakota has never shown one wit of interest in addressing the true problems through increased salaries, or extended professional development, or any kind of incentive at all that might help teachers deal with the isolation and extreme poverty of the reservations. There are not enough teachers on the reservations! So South Dakota's solution, led by Democrats!!!, is that because we don't have enough teachers we're going to eliminate funding for the only organization that has stepped up to fill the gap, just to spite their east coast elitist idealism. It's soooo South Dakota.

    I completely agree that Minnesota is different than South Dakota, so why is Minnesota even in the conversation. And Steve, I have no idea what "turn them and burn them" means. What is the rate of teachers who go through traditional educational programs who leave the profession after two or three years? Why do we hold TFA corps members to a different standard than people who specifically train to be teachers and then abandon the profession?

    One of the commenters asks how I know about TFA. Many, many levels. I am a professional journalist and I have taken the time to get to know Jim Curran, the state director. I have had many long conversations with him. I also have extensive relationships with people on Pine Ridge and Rosebud where I have done many reporting projects. Both Tribal Councils support TFA. TFA's deepest supporters are parents and local communities ON THE RESERVATIONS. I am also close fiends with Beau LeBeau, the community outreach coordinator for TFA on Pine Ridge. Finally, my daughter, raised in South Dakota, a graduate of Central High School in Rapid City, attended college on the east coast, and came home to begin her teaching career on the Rosebud reservation as a TFA corps member. She did her two years and is now an alumn. She teaches middle school reading and social studies at Spring Creek School. Eagle Pride!

  11. Deb Geelsdottir 2014.03.17

    MN is in this conversation because I put it there. I live in MN now and frequently describe how MN deals with problems similar to SD's. I do so because MN usually shows a very different response from SD.

    I will always love SD, even though I won't be living there again. I am trying to offer other ways to think about things, options for working together, examples of bringing issues into the sunshine. I want SD to be a better state, a state to be proud of. I want SD to get off the bottom of all those lists.

  12. Larry 2014.03.17

    I have worked with Project Select students out of BHSU. When they have talked to TFA teachers on the Reservations, they were shocked by the lack of training and support these student have. Some do stay but most don't. They do not have any intention to stay longer than they have to. As far as SDEA not supporting reservation teachers, SDEA only represents public schools and most schools on the reservation or not public schools.

  13. Sam Hurst 2014.03.17

    Rosebud is entirely a public school district (except for St. Francis). Teachers are employees of Todd County Schools. How many Project Select graduates teach on the reservations? The difference between TFA retention rates and BHSU/USD retention rates is that TFA corps members do not commit to becomes teachers. They ARE there as a public service…to fill a gap left by the failure of existing programs. So what is South Dajkota doing to relieve the shortfall on the reservations. What is the five-year retention rate of Project Select or traditional teacher training programs? By the way, isn't Project Select an "alternative" model of professional development that compresses formal classroom study and student teaching to produce teachers with no prior experience in one year? What kind of sustained support do Project Select students get after their one year?

  14. Troy 2014.03.18

    I agree generally with Sam. My recent college graduate and new teacher daughter contemplated working on the reservation. For personal reasons (our unique family situation causes her to desire staying close to us, her boyfriend, etc.), she decided to take a position here for significantly less money. I suspect that the lack of ties, social opportunity, etc. greatly diminishes the pool of teachers applying for jobs on or near the reservation. Remote non-reservation communities have a similar problem I'm sure.

    Minnesota's reservations are not like ours which are remote so the comparison is not relevant.

    TFA creates a pool of highly motivated young people who have a desire to make a difference for two years. What they might lack in experience and long-term commitment is made up in their enthusiasm and personal commitment to the cause. While not ideal, just because a bandaid isn't "permanent skin" doesn't mean bandaids are a bad thing.

    Regarding the long-term solution, my gut is that a large component requires inspiration of locals to go into teaching. Teaching is among the highest paid jobs on the reservation. While the considerations of my daughter are impediments to my daughter teaching on the reservation, these same considerations (family ties, etc.) can be the best asset of a long-term solution.

    A married couple who are from the area who become teachers will be among the most affluent in their community and a seed for improving the life of their community. I tell my daughter all the time, more people will come to her funeral and mourn her death than to mine. Great teachers in the midst of the challenges on our reservations will be heroes. Not a bad thing to contemplate on one's death bed.

  15. larry kurtz 2014.03.18

    Hey folks: the tribes don't want help from a state that competes with them for resources. Federal agencies recognize reservations as states: expect the Navajo Nation to be the first to secede from the states where she is trapped then for others to follow.

  16. Nick Nemec 2014.03.18

    Troy, I think you have a good point concerning long term solutions to the teacher shortage problem in Indian Country, and I'll expand it to the medical field. Living near a reservation, Crow Creek, I know many non-natives who live in Highmore and commute to jobs on the reservation. Many education jobs at Fort Thompson or Stephan and medical field jobs at Fort Thompson are filled by non-tribal members. Those non-tribal members rarely live on the reservation and they take their paychecks back to their hometowns with them. If the state and tribes could work together to identify and educate tribal members for those jobs it would do a lot to reduce poverty in Indian Country. And that is a good thing for all South Dakotans, Indians and non-Indians alike.

  17. Nick Nemec 2014.03.18

    My last post needs to be worded stronger. The State of South Dakota is dropping the ball on our poorest citizens, residents of the reservations. Identify residents of those areas, kids or ADULTS, and help them get the education necessary to fill the jobs currently filled by non-residents.

    Adult education is critical. There may be residents of those communities who would love to teach or be a healer in their community but lack the resources to get the necessary education. As an older person they might be more motivated to get the education and their wisdom of having lived life is invaluable.

    Resources might be tuition money but it might also be daycare or daily transportation to classes at a tribal college or an off reservation adult education location. There is much work to be done if we, as a state, are willing to do it.

  18. mike from iowa 2014.03.18

    I hate to be a dog in the manger,but I'm not sensing a whole lot of compassion for the kids here. Educating children is what this is about,right? These children deserve the best educators to receive the best education they can get. Filling in the gaps with uncredentialed,inexperienced teachers is a slap in the face to these kids. Sounds like a civil experiment to keep underprivileged kids underprivileged their entire lives. The state had better find the means to upgrade schools and hire experienced teachers and stop playing politics with these young people's lives. One political party in this nation has clearly demonstrated their contempt for union teachers and therefore show contempt for students.

  19. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.03.18

    Larry, can private-school teachers join SDEA? Is there an alternative union for non-public-school teachers?

  20. Troy 2014.03.18


    That is so unfair. Sam, Nick and I (across the political spectrum) believe the long-term solution requires "growing" teachers with ties to the area. Unfortunately, some of the opposition to TFA is the perception the band-aid is only making the problem worse or it is short-changing students. Sam and I at least agree (across the political spectrum, the band-aid is necessary until the long-term solution bears fruit).

    Nick raises a great point. The aging/depopulation of central and west central South Dakota is impacting the number of teachers in the area so the problem is getting even worse. I suspect the situation will get worse before it gets better and TFA will be even more critical.

    And, while the state has a role in the solution, the solution goes beyond them and to some degree they are bit players. The Reservations must be the lead in finding, recruiting, and nurturing people with ties to the area to be teachers. If they don't, all of the efforts of the rest of us will be for naught (lest we start conscripting teachers to "serve" on the reservation).

  21. Nick Nemec 2014.03.18

    It's a partnership, and the State must be a willing and innovative partner.

  22. Charlie Johnson 2014.03.18

    GDD and state leaders need to understand what the word, commitment, means. Then they must be willing to act and carry through on commitment.

  23. mike from iowa 2014.03.18

    Troy-in the short term these kids are the ones being hurt. These kids can't wait for long term solutions-like everyone else they get older every year. They may have to wait well into their twenties to get a remedial education. I don't have the answers and it is good to know there are concerned people trying to figure this stuff out. It shouldn't have been difficult to see the consequences of cutting education spending to facilitate lower taxes. Spending isn't the [problem,it is wingnuts who think taxes need to be cut that are the problem. In SoDak there aren't enough elected Dems to have virtually any say in what gets cut.

  24. Bill Dithmer 2014.03.18

    Hey folks: the tribes don't want help from a state that competes with them for resources. Federal agencies recognize reservations as states: expect the Navajo Nation to be the first to secede from the states where she is trapped then for others to follow.

    Out of all these comments, Larry Kurtz is the only one with a clue as to what's going on. It's all about competition for funding between the states and the tribes.

    The Blindman

  25. larry kurtz 2014.03.18

    your check is in the mail, bro :)

  26. larry kurtz 2014.03.18

    It's important to remember that if the state is doing anything about Native education (or anything else for that matter) it's because there is federal money incentivizing a budget massage grinding high heels into the meth that is SDGOP.

  27. Steve O'Brien 2014.03.18


    The only issue I would agree on TFA being the bandaid that is making it worse is that it becomes a solution the legislature can "afford." Now that financial ties have been cut, TFA gets to be the non-governmental solution that needs no state money to do the work it does. I think too many in government get to pretend that TFA is the solution to a much deeper (and expanding problem) in our state and walk away thinking they fixed the problem or did "everything they could."

    Like any band-aid (and I really do not mean that in a pejorative or condescending way), TFA is not the solution to the entrenched, structural recruitment and retention problem SD has with teachers. Teaching has to be raised up as a respected and rewarded profession - not an act of charity.

  28. Sam Hurst 2014.03.18

    Aside from Nic, who lives near Crow Creek, and myself, I haven't heard anyone speak from direct experience on the Reservations. All this pontificating about who is abandoning whom, and what Lakota children really want, and how the band aid doesn't work, or what kind of preparation TFA teachers bring or don't bring 't their classes, is offered without a shred of experience or fact-based research. I have a problem with the suggestion that Lakota children were well-served before TFA, and now they are being treated as second-class by TFA teachers. That's just not my experience. I have been in a dozen TFA classrooms. I brought my own cynical suspicion with me. I have discovered that TFA members ARE inexperienced. They would benefit from more advanced training. But they also have very high expectations, enforce discipline and high standards in their classrooms, promote a culture that values education and college education, teach their subjects rigorously, and respect their students. What we should all be looking for is a commitment from state government, the teachers union, and SD teachers colleges that matches the commitment of TFA. I simply don't see it. Everyone has a reason why THEY cannot make a difference. The only people who seem to believe they can make a difference are TFA folks. Isn't there something wrong with that?

  29. mike from iowa 2014.03.18

    Sam Hurst-is TFA the ultimate level of educators you'd be willing to accept for any and/or all schoolkids? Will these students be able to transfer school credits to a university without certified teachers? I don't know what the standards are on the Res,but grades and credits have to be accredited to transfer or students must take remedial courses in college to get up to speed. All kids deserve at least that much of a chance. I'm not trying to disparage TFA,because the problems I see are with the legislators.

  30. Deb Geelsdottir 2014.03.18

    Sam, earlier I said that I TAUGHT SCHOOL AT CROW CREEK. You must have missed that when you were listing people with actual experience on the res.

    Yes, I lived in Highmore. Housing in Stephan was very limited in the early 80s. It's not a town. There are a few houses there for faculty. Stephan was a Roman Catholic mission school originally. It was a boarding school then, with 2 dormitories, a gym, and an administration building.

    The admin building was quite large. The big chapel was still there, unused. The lunch room area was huge. In addition to the usual kitchen and table area, there were other facilities. When the RCC operated the school, it was independent from outside. The big garden all went to the kitchen. The small cattle herd was butchered right there and fed the kids.

    Crow Creek was my first and only experience with a res school. Previously I had taught 5 years in small towns in northwest SD. The students at CC blew me away.

    They were so smart! So creative! So athletic! Nope, not every single one. But so many of them. I didn't expect that. The kids I'd taught previously were well assimilated into their culture, and well constrained by it.

    The school structure was so corrupt. The superintendent was an old white man and a pervert. He wanted to have sex with every white female teacher. Not the Indians. He was very racist and an incompetent administrator. The principal was another white guy. He was a good guy who did the best he could under that situation.

    There were some parents who threatened teachers and coaches if they wanted different treatment for their children. I taught English and failed some students for the semester that ended just before Xmas. When I returned in January, no one in my class had less than a "C". I still don't know exactly how that happened.

    I had a student come into my class a little drunk or high. The last time he came in stoned out of his mind. Another student who lived in the dorm never came to class the day his check came to the post office, 12 miles away. He was an emancipated adult and if he didn't beat his father to the post office, dad took his check, the boy's only resource. So he walked to the post office every month, regardless of weather.

    That was my experience on the res. Kids with tremendous gifts thwarted on every side. It is a huge loss, a terrible waste for SD. How they could benefit this state and this nation. What a shameful waste of humanity.

  31. Deb Geelsdottir 2014.03.18

    Oh, and then there are the times I've spent on the Pine Ridge. Learning from Zona Fills the Pipe and shadowing Pinky Plume for a week. Helping that old Episcopal priest, whose name escapes me, planning and leading funerals.

    Maybe Sam, you shouldn't be so quick to dismiss people if you are unaware of their experiences and knowledge. Perhaps next time you might Ask rather than Declare based on ignorance.

  32. Bill Dithmer 2014.03.18

    Sam I do live on the Pine Ridge and have subed in schools here but let's not get into that when we can look at what the natives, or at least one educator thinks about TFA.
    Lynne Colombe is an interesting person. She has a pretty good understanding of what's up on the Rosebud reservation. These are just a few of her thoughts.
    " I propose that money would be better spent if Teach for America teachers were not setting a goal of teaching 2/3 of our reservation children by 2015."
    "Does the five week teacher-training program these teachers take in the summer before their first year in the classroom truly prepare them for life on the Reservation, our failing school systems, or our communities with unique problems?"
    "In my own personal experience this year, the TFA teachers have been given preference in teaching schedules (with some TFA teachers having only 2 to 13 students in a class); housing (with single teachers in 3 bedroom houses, while I have three children and was given a one-bedroom apartment in a parking lot); student loan repayment; and an automatically higher social status in the schools that Native American and veteran teachers are denied. The TFA program on my reservation has pushed out many teachers in the last year, and I can only suspect that the trend will only continue at an even higher rate because the TFA teachers work for a much lower salary than seasoned, experienced teachers in our District."

    Oh ya there's much more. It's a great read and says a lot about why TFA is a bad idea wherever they want to set up shop.
    I have known many trained teachers that have taught here on the res. The only ones that were successful were either born here or very close to here.
    TFA is and was a waste of good money.
    The Blindman

  33. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.03.18

    Mr. Dithmer at the blackboard? Dang, I want to be in that classroom.

  34. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.03.18

    On Colombe's comment, I'll tackle one small point: I don't think any teacher training program adequately prepares future teachers for "life on the Reservation, our failing school systems, or our communities with unique problems."

  35. Roger Cornelius 2014.03.18

    I'm quite cynical about the whole education system when it comes to children on the reservations. Whether it be TFA, State, or the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

    The first words that come out of the mouths of legislatures, state and government agencies is "we don't have enough money to do that".

    At the same time we hear politicians, education administrators, unions, etc. tell us how important it is to educate Native children

    I am sick and tired of this money and policy games that go on and on with no real results. Everybody thinks they have the answer and yet no one does!!!!!!!

    We have generation after generation of Native children that are under educated and crippled for life because politicians play with their lives, and often ruin them.

    And then we stand around with our thumb up our ass and ask why there is poverty on the reservation?

    Bastards, louts and sons of a bitches, the whole of those politicians.

  36. Bill Dithmer 2014.03.19

    Cory I would never disgrace real educators by calling myself a teacher. I was a younger and dumber Blindman 30 years ago.
    Besides, there's nothing that I could teach that anyone would want to learn unless they want to know something about dogs, the philosophy of rock music, the social significance of the blues, speaking in public, or how to build a bong with the perfect air to smoke mixture.

    No I'm not fit for the classroom.

    The Blindman

  37. Kal Lis 2014.03.19

    You underestimate yourself, Bill.

    The social significance of the blues covers deeper history and geography than many students get now. The lyrics and beat would cover a lot of literature classes. The music and math connection has been well documented.

    You are right that your science and tech experiments might be frowned upon by some, but beginning the day with LeadBelly or Robert Johnson would be an opportunity for all students.

  38. Deb Geelsdottir 2014.03.19

    Blindman, when we're married will you build us the best ever bong? I'd be okay with inviting your present wife to join us. Good weed is meant to be shared.

  39. Bill Dithmer 2014.03.19

    Belinda doesn't do that and smoke no longer reaches these lungs. But, I would be proud to share a vaporizer with you. And I wouldn't even wipe it off when you handed it back to me. That would be inappropriate bong etiquette.

    The Blindman

  40. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.03.21

    (Hey! We can't have people advocating illegal activity here on the blog. Of course, if you're talking about meeting in Colorado, then I can't complain.)

  41. Bill Dithmer 2014.03.21

    Colorado or bust! Or Washington, or Oregon, or on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, or oh my gosh California. The freight trains a coming Cory but you never know where I'll be.

    The Blindman

  42. Bill Dithmer 2014.03.21

    Deb and I would be right up there with the convict governor Bill Junklow.

    Except didn't someone get killed when Janklow committed his crime? Look at how they treated him. Still gets his picture in the stste capital, he got to practice law again. I never did figure out how that happened.

    There are people doing time, in this state, for possession of marijuana. They never killed anyone and yet they are treated worse then Bill Janklow, who took a life.

    I'm not smoking and haven't for a good many years, however, I have never tried to hide the fact that I did smoke pot or I would again because of my medical history.

    You can't make a difference if you never take a stand. I can no longer see to get around, because of my eye conditions, yes several, I'm in constant pain, including migraine headaches from the age of ten that helped me to a one and a half a week hypo habit and over three hundred thousand pills and that lasted for almost thirty years until I found pot. I'd say I have something to hope for with the legalization of at least medical pot.

    Please forgive me for the things I write. It is my way to keep this particular subject in front of the public.

    The Blindman

  43. Deb Geelsdottir 2014.03.21

    Last time I enjoyed the sweet weed was about 1979ish. I don't have any plans to do it again, though I'd never say never. I've never tried vaping anything. Maybe sometime.

    For you NSA types out there . . . I. W A S. J U S T. K I D D I N G ! ! ! ! !


  44. grudznick 2014.03.21

    Ms. Geelsdottir/,
    I know that Mr. Sibby and Mr. H think that the NSA is tracking them but I don't think that seems very reasonable. Plus, I am glad you quit sucking those toxins into your body and am sure your skin shows all the better because of it.

  45. Deb Geelsdottir 2014.03.21

    Do you think lack of weed is delaying liverspots for me? I'm good with that.

    By the way, your flattery, "your skin shows all the better," will pretty much get you anywhere you want to go. Just sayin'.

  46. larry kurtz 2014.03.21

    Marty and grudznick
    sitting in a tree
    first comes funds
    then comes marriage
    then comes ur anium
    in a baby carriage.

  47. Deb Geelsdottir 2014.03.21

    Blindman, the first link about vaping leads me directly to "Error 404 - File not found." Argh!

    On the other hand, MN has just rejected a medical marijuana bill. Democratic Governor Dayton was set against it unless law enforcement changes their position against it. Then the gov met with The People.

    He was laid up recovering from hip surgery and protesters were outside the gate. The gov told his peeps to let some come into his room. People whose lives would be improved, especially young people and children, talked with him. He listened closely, believed them, and believed they knew what they were talking about. That same night Gov. Dayton announced that he would consider it. The legis allocated money for research by a couple different universities. As results come in, the topic will be revisited.

    Imagine that. SD with a governor who Seriously listens to The People? A gov who is responsive to what The People want? Wouldn't that be lovely? Sigh.

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