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Greenfield to Perpetuate GOP Neglect of Education and Blame of Selfish Teachers

South Dakota teachers lost a fine advocate in the Legislature with the defeat of District 4 Democrat Rep. Kathy Tyler. One could hope that voters in neighboring District 2 have compensated for that loss by electing 37-year teacher Lana Greenfield to the House. Alas, Greenfield's a Republican, so scratch that hope.

As revealed in a "nice" Aberdeen American News interview, Representative-Elect Greenfield has already internalized the party-line excuses for Legislative inaction and irresponsibility.

Greenfield acknowledges there's a teacher shortage but rejects the obvious rational solution of paying teachers more:

An increase in pay may not be the only thing needed to draw teachers to South Dakota, Greenfield said.

“I just don’t think that’s workable as far as enticing our students into getting into the (teaching) profession,” Greenfield said. “Of course, I want the teachers to have a raise. Of course, I think that they work too hard, and if there are monies, I think that money should be specifically earmarked when it’s sent to the schools for the teachers” [Katherine Grandstrand, "Former Teacher Ready for Legislative Position," Aberdeen American News, 2014.11.30].

"If there are monies"—as if those monies appear out of thin air, independent of the appropriative decisions of legislators.

Offer more money, and you'll get more teaching candidates. The only reason that's not workable is that legislators like Rep.-Elect Greenfield throw up their hands in despair and declare themselves powerless to find the money to make those raises possible.

Greenfield perpetuates the guilt trip that teaching is about love, not money:

But money is rarely the bottom line for teachers, Greenfield said.

“More teachers that I know are worried about the outcomes of their profession rather than their income,” Greenfield said. “I loved teaching and looked forward to it every day. I loved the students and staff. In a small school, you get along as a family” [Grandstrand, 2014.11.30].

Got that, teachers? You don't worry about your income, do you? Selfless service to a family is what you're all about, right? And if you're not, well, what kind of a greedy monster are you?

Of course, Rep.-Elect Greenfield can't keep her own extemporaneous bromides straight. One moment, she says the Legislature is a "business," "not a dog-and-pony show." The next she's making entirely unbusinesslike pronouncements in favor of continued inefficiency:

With a majority of South Dakota’s schools in small towns, keeping those small schools open is important not only for the students, but for the community.

“The school is the center of the society in a small town. There’s so many activities that take place that are school-centered,” Greenfield said. “People go there for Snow Queen contests, PTO carnivals, plays, music concerts; it’s a gathering place.”

The ruralness of the state adds another hurdle in attracting teachers to South Dakota.

“I’m worried because I’m afraid that, with the shortage of teachers across the nation, the last thing I want to see is our small schools having to shut down and give way to larger schools that have more crowded class conditions just for the sake of filling them with a math teacher,” Greenfield said [Grandstrand, 2014.11.30].

Hold on. I understand Greenfield's effort to tell teachers that life is more than money. I appreciate her willingness to argue that keeping small rural schools open should be about more than money. But how is that at all businesslike thinking? And if Greenfield is willing to so regularly overthrow concerns about money in favor of greater issues, why does she not apply the same expectation to taxpayers and legislators? Why does she not march to Pierre and say, "There are more important things than leaving money in the pockets of our wealthiest citizens. We need to spend our money to pay teachers the raises that we all think they deserve for their selfless service. We need to pay more taxes so that every one of those rural schools doesn't just survive but thrives!"

But there I go expecting consistent and conscientious policy formulations from Republican legislators. Silly me. Rep.-Elect Greenfield isn't really formulating policy. She's just marking time until she gets to Pierre, where she will faithfully carry out the orders of a stingy, anti-education GOP leadership, which she will frost with sugary word confections for the voters back home.


  1. Lynn 2014.12.01

    Her district voted her in knowing full well what she stands for and others like her in the SDGOP that won across South Dakota this past election so this is what the people of South Dakota gets.

  2. Barry Muxen 2014.12.01

    I have known Lana since the early '80s, she taught English to my son and I served on the Doland school board for a little more than seven years. While she was deemed a good teacher, I concur that she will be little more than another toady for the governor, as is her son. Maybe it's a family tradition, I don't know.
    Her comments about funding education made it clear that she won't be expending much effort to increase teacher pay or adequate funding of education. I predict she will do little else other than toe the party line and do the governor's bidding. Sad to see that the critical thinking skills she imparted to her students are so lacking in her life.

  3. Greg 2014.12.01

    We keep waiting for Pierre to come up with a solution for low teacher pay. I spent 9 years on a school board waiting and it not going to happen. A lot of our legislators talk about it before elections but have no courage to solve it. The only way to solve it right now if we don't get help from Pierre is through local opt outs. Your local school board would opt out for more local money earmarked for teacher pay increases. I guarantee that if you raise teacher pay a decent amount over neighboring districts you will have more applicants for job openings. This would open up competition between schools for teachers. Opt outs leave local money for local school board control, much safer than it sending to Pierre. This is not a perfect solution but it would be way a quicker solution than waiting for our legislature.

  4. bearcreekbat 2014.12.01

    I think Greenfield is correct in her assessment of teachers' motivations fo teach. The point she misses is that a teacher can fully satisfy his or her desire to help students and become part of a school family by finding employment in schools outside of South Dakota that offer more competitive pay.

    This low pay issue has little to do with teachers' personal views or motivation to teach, but much to do with attracting and keeping qualified teachers for our schools.

  5. Donald Pay 2014.12.01

    I think Greg is right. Pierre, as presently constituted, won't ever solve the problem, and you might as well do whatever you need to do at the local level.

    The problem will be that Pierre sooner or later will step in and prevent local-level solutions. The real intent of the Republican Party is to gradually destroy public education. It will be a gradual destruction, because they don't want you to notice it.

    The same nonsense spewed by Greenfield has been the Republican education "solution" since the early 1990s---starve teachers, cut programs, standardized testing. Oh, they change it slightly every 4-5 years, just to try to fool you, but it comes down to the same formula.

    Republicans like to preach "accountability," but they never hold themselves accountable for their 25 years---nearly two generations---of failures. Even with these failures by their own rubrics, the spout the same stuff as if the peons aren't smart enough to catch on.

  6. JeniW 2014.12.01

    Have any of the school districts offered to pay off part of, or all of the students loans of those who have a degree in teaching, whether it is for regular or special education degree if the teacher stays with the school district for a certain number of years?

    There is a plan to pay off some, or most, of students loans for those who get an MD degree and agree to work in an underserved area for a certain amount of time?

    Something that we keep reading about is "local control," if the school districts really want local control, it would seem that they would decrease their dependency on state funding (which is somewhat dependent on federal funding.) Should it be that school districts come up with most of its own resources, such as having fundraisers (beyond the sports,) start charging a tuition based on a sliding scale?

    It would be nice if the legislators would allocate more money to the schools, but it has already been indicated that because the revenue has been less than hoped for, the state is not likely to increase funding by 1.5 percent.

    Will the legislators once again approve the $500,000.00 for ALEC membership, activities, and per diem, instead of putting that funding to benefit more than just a select few?

  7. o 2014.12.01

    Is there a master list of "Professionals in it for the Money" and "Professionals Not in it for the Money?" Doctors, dentists, forensic anthropologists, chiefs-of-staff . . . which list is for each profession? Is teaching the only professional vocation in the "Not in it for the Money" category?

    bearcreekbat, your point is well taken that although candidates might not get into education for the money, they certainly will/ought to go to where the money is once in the field (and that is not SD).

  8. Donald Pay 2014.12.01

    At some point what's gong to happen is that a district or maybe all districts, will say, "That's it, we're done. We're giving everyone a tax break. We're not going to levy any property tax for schools. Legislators, it's your problem now." It would be fun to watch the rats in Pierre squirm.

  9. mike from iowa 2014.12.01

    Not enuf teachers,try forced conscription. That oughta work.

  10. mike from iowa 2014.12.01

    Being greedy monsters ought to endear teachers to wingnuts. Maybe teachers should strike for 7 figure salaries to be grredy enuf for wingnuts.

  11. mike from iowa 2014.12.01

    bcb-I doubt wingnuts delve deeper than filling teacher slots at low pay. It validates their ideas that teachers take low paying jobs for the love of teaching. That they may have to re-fill slots every year validates their theories even more.

  12. Wayne Pauli 2014.12.01

    she is not a teacher, she is a retired teacher. she will not help the pay issue or the shortage issue, plus she raised Brock..your honor, I rest my case.

  13. Deb Geelsdottir 2014.12.01

    Can a specific tax for teacher pay be an initiated measure? MN's tax dedicated specifically for the outdoors, art and historical purposes is a result of a constitutional amendment approved via popular vote.

  14. grudznick 2014.12.01

    Initiated measures are the pay-day loans of legislation. Preying on the under-informed and coming back to bitecha hard in the arse. Oh yes, every once in a while you dump your $50 in the lottery machine at the sandwich shop down the street on your noon hour and win $100 back, but that's maybe once every 2 weeks. And then you tell all your buddies "hey I won" and buy them all beers and now you have zero to show.

  15. larry kurtz 2014.12.01

    grud makes a great point: democracy sucks in southern dakota.

  16. Connie Mogen 2014.12.01

    I'm wondering if anybody else noticed a new issue in an article in the Argus Leader the other day. I believe it was on the front page and appeared from the headlibe to be about the SF district's plans for tearing down Jefferson ES and replacing it with a new Spanish immersion scool. But discussions are, according to the article, being had by politicians in Pierre to restricting the districts' capital outlays somehow. I didn't fully understand it but apparently the SF school board was very concerned because it could limit or delay their plans to put up the new school. And they are up against a deadline for giving public notice of their plans. To quote FB friend, "What new horror is this?"
    Oh, and a shout out to Barry Muxen. In the interest of full disclosure,I grew up near Doland and the family history even says we're related. Didn't realize you had served on the school board but just don't keep up on Doland's news as much as I'd like.
    If anybody else read that article and/or has any opinions or views on that issue, wouldon't appreciate the responses.

  17. lee schoenbeck 2014.12.01

    First, Lana will be a hard working legislator. One alone can't move the mountain, but I think you unfairly characterize her commitment - and ignore the comments she made that are consistent with your thesis.

    But here's the real irony. EVERY school board has the capacity to opt out and do right by their families and students. Two of your commentators said they are school board memebers, and don't explain why they refused to do right, or be held accountable for their inaction???

    It's easy to be the jackass - much harder to be the carpenter

  18. Barry Muxen 2014.12.01

    To your first point, the usual boiler plate bs that one person can't do it alone blah, blah, blah, is the same ol', same ol'. Not impressed. Let me tell you about an incident in 2001, shortly after 9/11. The staff received newly printed catalogs from a school supply company. She was certain that the fresh ink smell was al queda trying to poison English teachers in Doland SD. She wanted the school evacuated. Exactly the clear-headed thinking we want in Pierre, right?
    As to your second point, The Doland School Board did pass an opt out to the tune of about 25% of their budget while I was on the board. We had to fire one half of our elementary staff to boot, so don't preach to me about stepping up to do the right thing. You can take your comments and place in your anal orifice, sideways, thank you very much.

  19. Barry Muxen 2014.12.01

    Sorry, left out the word them between in and orifice. It is late.

  20. Greg 2014.12.02

    Lee, who in hell should be held accountable, a school board member of a school that already opted out or our legislators that refused to recognize the statewide problem.

  21. mike from iowa 2014.12.02

    Doesn't appear that cliches alone will move the mountain. What the hell does hard working legislator mean and in what context? Is it anything like "South Dakota values" or "common sense?"

  22. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.12.02

    Come on, Lee: you guys keep throwing carpenters like Kathy Tyler out and electing oxen whose only pull lies in pulling the GOP leadership's wagon away from any serious, courageous reforms to end our disrespect of teachers. Show some leadership. Let Greenfield change the narrative and talk about finding the resources to raise teacher pay instead of shrugging, saying money doesn't matter, and telling teachers to work for love.

  23. JeniW 2014.12.02

    Lee, the legislators could "do right" by no longer funding ALEC, and use that money for education. Will they do it? We will see.

  24. Steve Sibson 2014.12.02

    "There are more important things than leaving money in the pockets of our wealthiest citizens. We need to spend our money to pay teachers the raises that we all think they deserve for their selfless service. We need to pay more taxes so that every one of those rural schools doesn't just survive but thrives!"

    Yes Cory, more taxes...the fuel that drives the system of legal corruption. Why does SDGOP legislatures need to promote more taxes when liberal Democrats do that for them?

  25. JeniW 2014.12.02

    Steve S., how else can the teacher's pay, or anything else get paid for without increasing taxes?

    What specific solutions do you propose, and how would you implement those proposals?

  26. Steve Sibson 2014.12.02

    "Steve S., how else can the teacher's pay, or anything else get paid for without increasing taxes?"

    Eliminate the GOED and the SDDOE.

  27. larry kurtz 2014.12.02

    Wyoming has one state-supported four-year university: South Dakota could eliminate several.

  28. tara volesky 2014.12.02

    There is more than enough money for education. The administrators and school board will figure it out if administrators were 51st instead of 24th in the nation for salaries. Maybe remodeling Mitchell HS auditorium would make more sense than spending $18 million dollars on a new Fine Arts Center. That would free up money for the teachers. Isn't there going to be a bill introduced in the legislature to use capital outlay money for teacher salaries?

  29. tara volesky 2014.12.02

    Quit spending millions of dollars on common core curriculum, books, workbooks, workshops, tests. Let the teachers teach. Teacher morale is lower than teacher pay.

  30. Donald Pay 2014.12.02

    Lee Schoenbeck: "EVERY school board has the capacity to opt out and do right by their families and students. Two of your commentators said they are school board memebers, and don't explain why they refused to do right, or be held accountable for their inaction???"

    First, the opt outs only option involves increases to property taxes, and there is no way to adjust that to make it fall on certain types of property or certain income levels. So, in my mind, opting out as the solution to school funding re-capitulates the problems faced in the late-80s and early 90s, where the costs of education were placed far too much on the property tax, and hurt lower income property owners.

    The real problem is a lack of state resources going to education. The current ed formula is based on a concept of property tax limitation that was floating around during the early 1990s, and was not really meant to fund educational needs. The governor and legislature never even looked at educational need when constructing the formula. Back then Republicans were more interested in building prisons and killing students in boot camps, than in spending money to educate kids so they wouldn't have to fill those prisons.

  31. JeniW 2014.12.02

    If the school districts really want local control, and do not want to deal with Common Core, the solution would be to stop accepting state and federal funding, and come up with their own financial support.

    Steve S., will you be trying to convince the Mitchell school board to stop accepting state and federal funding, even for Special Ed?

    Tara will you be trying to convince the school board to stop accepting state and federal funding so it will not have any strings attached such as Common Core, including for Special Ed?

  32. tara volesky 2014.12.02

    Jeni, I have been trying to convince the local school board to get their priorities straight. Instead of being in the business of building an $18 million dollar Art Fine Arts Center, remodel the HS auditorium and update the school like Brookings did. Common Core is an another fad like no child left behind. We pay local property taxes to fund the majority of our school district. I think it's good citizens express themselves. Keeps a lot of rubberstamp school board members on their toes. We need to get rid of the permanent $700,000 opt out so the school board is more accountable to the taxpayers.

  33. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.12.02

    Donald is right about the inadequacy of opt-outs. When Schoenbeck, Daugaard, and the rest of the GOP leadership dodge their responsibility and say local districts that want to pay more should opt-out, they are asking local districts to base their funding on a one-legged stool, the sort of unbalanced fiscal policy that gets governments in trouble. State funding is on a more durable, balanced foundation of multiple revenue streams.

    We should dismiss the opt-out dodge with a minimum-wage argument. Sure, local districts are free to pay their teachers as much as their voters will bear with an opt-out. But just as we set a minimum wage, the state sets a minimum per-student allocation, a dollar figure they think represents the basic amount that we as a state believe should be used to educate each child. The state legislature is saying that, if no one opted out, that state-defined amount should be enough to buy every book, fuel every bus, and pay every teacher the wage she or he deserves.

    Or think of it this way (Lana, Dennis, Lee...): if you only feed your kids one piece of baloney every night, and if your neighbors notice and slip your kids some ham and cheese and apples and bread under the back fence, you don't get to say, "See? I'm feeding my kids enough." You still bear the moral responsibility for starving your kids. Put some dang food on the table, Dennis.

  34. Donald Pay 2014.12.02

    Cory said, "The state legislature is saying that, if no one opted out, that state-defined amount should be enough to buy every book, fuel every bus, and pay every teacher the wage she or he deserves."

    Yeah, except when the governor and legislature concocted the state aid formula it never spent one nanosecond studying curriculum needs, buildings and maintenance, transportation needs, salary and benefits, or any other cost factor. And there has been precious little thought put on on these factors since the early 1990s. They just plug in some percentage increase that has very little relevance to anything ed related, and that's it.

    There have been tinkering around the edges since the 1990s, when districts have had to come hat in hand to kiss the asses of the grand eminences in Pierre to get a bit of relief from their monstrosity of an ed funding formula. And, of course, there are the "pet projects" in education that get funded because every Governor thinks they are going to "fix" the "problems" in K-12 education. Generally, these "pet projects" are wasted efforts that fail, and end up squandering resources.

    Legislators don't give a damn, because they don't want to actually think. They are happy putting out the decades-old platitudes that come so easily to the ignorant and lazy. So, nothing is going to change.

  35. Les 2014.12.02

    """"They are happy putting out the decades-old platitudes that come so easily to the ignorant and lazy. So, nothing is going to change."""" No truer statement, here on this or many of the other decisions made locally and at state levels. It takes work and effort to self educate, beyond what most consider their duty. Nothing is, going to change until accountability is demanded at the polls by "both" parties.

  36. JeniW 2014.12.03

    Thank you Tara, just wondering if your local school district would be willing to give up the state and federal funding? If so, there would not be the strings attached such as the No Child Left Behind, or Common Core.

    When the plans were made to build the Fine Arts Center, was that voted on by the district residents, or did did the Board itself make that decision with or without resident approval?

    If the school district should not be involved in the building business, should it really be involved in the remodeling business (the only exception to being able to remodel is to make the school more easily accessible for students/staff/residents with disabilities.) Perhaps the only building business that the school district should have, is repair and maintenance on the existing building, including janitorial services, plumbing/sewer, walls (inside and outside,) and windows.

    Then, if and when, the number of students in the school district increases enough, build a new school.

    If those living within a school district really want local control, then they need to stop accepting state and federal money, and start charging fees on a sliding scale basis for students to participate in after-school activities, transportation, and services such speech therapy.

  37. tara volesky 2014.12.03

    Jeni, I don't think people in general like Public education over privatized. I think what we're upset about is how the money is spent. Schools need to be maintained and the MHS is in dire need of upfrading the auditorium. There is some suage problems

  38. tara volesky 2014.12.03

    Jeni, I think people in general like Public education over privatized. What we're upset about is how the money is being spent. Schools need to be maintained and the MHS is in dire need of upgrading the auditorium. There is some plumbing, a heating, and ventaliztion problems. Does that mean you knock down a well built school that is only 52 years old and build a new one? And on top of that, build a separate $18 million dollar FAC? The school board knows if was brought to a vote of the people, it would go down. That's why they will not put it on the ballot. They always say, your taxes will not go up. Well Mitchell is right there at the top for highest property taxes. The people of SD have spoken. DD won in 2 landslide elections and I thing people are tired of funding education through high property taxes.

  39. tara volesky 2014.12.03

    Jeni, I agree with you on most everything. Does that mean we'll get a big reduction in property taxes if we use a sliding scale? Rounds should never have taken the bribe money for Common Core because it is driving up costs. Unless the legislature votes it out, we have pretty much lost local control when it comes to education. SD is dependent on the federal government, and we are dependent on the one party ruler.

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