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Greenfield: Low Ed Program Enrollments Prove Low Teacher Pay Not a Problem

I didn't set out this week to pick on Representative-Elect Lana Greenfield, but her own words are making it clear she will make for easy blogging with her own burbling of GOP propaganda and sloppy thinking.

KELO reports that even Northern State, which produces more new K-12 teachers than any other South Dakota campus, isn't keeping up with market needs:

"It's always difficult to increase the number of majors in the hard-to-find areas," said Connie Geier, NSU School of Education Dean.

With education major numbers overall relatively steady in recent years, Geier wants to see an increase. Numbers vary from year to year, but there are about 20 percent fewer teacher major graduates now than there were 10 to 20 years ago, Geier said.

"We've been larger than this in the past and that would be a healthy growth for us," Geier said.

That could also be healthy growth for education in the state based on information the university receives from schools across South Dakota [Erich Schaffhauser, "NSU Teacher Program Holding Steady, Wants Growth,", 2014.12.05].

Rep.-Elect Greenfield joins the conversation in the KELO-Facebook comment section, which thrills me. All legislators should be willing to interact with the people they serve in online public forums. If nothing else, such online interaction gives us a chance to swiftly correct our legislators when they are wrong:

When the argument is posed that our teaching graduates are leaving the state for higher pay, it can be countered with this article. There seems to be a lack of interest in going into the teaching field...period. We need to turn this around, but the question is HOW [Lana Greenfield, comment,, 2014.12.04].

O, Lana, dear Lana. There is nothing in this article that counters the fact that your soon-to-be fellow Republican legislators, including your son Brock, have exacerbated South Dakota's teacher shortage by throttling K-12 funding for decades. It does nothing to counter the fact, to which every superintendent in this state but Joe Graves will attest, that teachers are leaving South Dakota for states that pay more.

This report actually shows another problem with the Legislature's ongoing neglect of education: salaries aren't high enough to keep existing teachers or to entice enough replacements into the field. The last line of the article has Dean Geier telling Greenfield HOW to turn the teacher shortage around [in Schaffhauser's paraphrase]: "increased teacher pay in South Dakota would help draw more students to the profession."

Rep.-Elect Greenfield is apparently so desperate to excuse her party's disresepect of her former profession that she will ignore the prima facie import of a simple news report. Rep.-Elect Greenfield, can you keep up that willful ignorance for two years, or would you like to amend your remarks and your worldview and use your voter-given authority to look for real solutions to South Dakota's teacher shortage?


  1. Owen 2014.12.06

    "There seems to be a lack of interest in going into the teaching field...period. We need to turn this around, but the question is HOW "

    First of all you have a governor and legislature that care more about business then education. Daugaard tells students not to follow their dreams but to go into fields that'll help his business buddies. You have a legislature that whines about not having money for education but it looks like they don't have a problem raising taxes for roads and bridges for the benefit of, of course, there business buddies.
    The teacher shortage is only going to get worse unless we change our priorities.
    Students who want to go into teaching might change there mind because of the debt they'll incur and have a tough time paying off. They also might get their teaching degree and move to another state which pays a higher wage. Either way South Dakota loses.

  2. Mike Henriksen 2014.12.06

    Many kids who go into education have parents that are in the field. I think we are seeing the backlash of the lack of respect from state government, the increased mandates from the state and federal level, and the lack of cash that SD teachers have had to deal with the last several years. Kids of teachers see that and want no part of it. I am honored to have so many in my family who are part of a proud profession. But I would never encourage my grandkids to go into it.

  3. Tim 2014.12.06

    Ah, the clown show should be even more entertaining than usual this session, it would be funny if it wasn't so serious.

  4. JeniW 2014.12.06

    As I mentioned before, use the program that is similar to what is used for medical doctors, pay a portion, or all of student loans if agree to teach in an underserved area for a certain length of time.

    The money can come from the same place where the contributions to ALEC came from.

  5. Tim 2014.12.06

    They don't have any trouble spending a half a million dollars of our money to go kiss ALEC's collective asses, but can't seem to find the funds to make sure our kids have the teachers to get a decent education.

  6. Donald Pay 2014.12.06

    There are a number of synergistic factors at work. Teachers and students are behaving as rational economic persons. Why can't Republicans figure that out? They are supposed to be so great at business and economics. Teachers are moving, when circumstances allow, to obtain better pay and benefits. That used to happen within the state, where teachers moved to districts that paid better. Now people move out of state. Students also understand that education is not paying as well as other fields.

    But there's another factor at work. There has been a two-generation long drumbeat of disrespect for teachers coming from the political right and from Republican and some Democratic politicians. Many students are shamed out of the teaching profession by a false political narrative.

    And this disrespect then recycles into various policies that destroys morale and working conditions.

    Many students and beginning teachers understand that the elites in this country and Republican politicians have teamed up to make their profession extremely endangered. They might be willing to trade high starting wages for a secure long-term path to higher income, but when you have Republican politicians aiming to do away with this long-term stability, that first few years of income sacrifice seems not to be a good bargain anymore.

    And, if Republican politicians and the school privatizers get their way, schools will be privatized. "Teaching" will be done by high school graduate making half current wages at factory-style voucher schools. Why should anyone go to college in education?

  7. David Newquist 2014.12.06

    Greenfield’s comment is typical of the kind of denial that possesses the GOP mentality in South Dakota. Money is an obvious factor in discouraging students from going into education, as is the anti-teacher attitude in the state.

    In my department at NSU, our strongest majors were those in teacher education, and they were in demand. They had to maintain a high grade point average as well as be highly competent in a comprehensive array of courses. However, there came a time in the early 90s when we noticed that our graduates were increasingly lured out of state. I remember being asked for letters of recommendation from districts in Massachusetts, New York, California, Washington, Arizona, Colorado, as well as neighboring Minnesota, Nebraska, and other Midwestern states. It was during this time that South Dakota districts began complaining about difficulty in filling vacancies. The students I worked with who went out of state to work were certainly influenced by higher salaries, but the professional status and regard in which they were held were also powerful factors.

    However, at that time, we also noticed a decline in the number and quality of students going into education. I recall a department meeting called because a number of high-achieving students decided to change their career direction after they student taught. Their experience with the South Dakota educational bureaucracy was discouraging and convinced them that their talents and educations would not be respected or utilized. We also saw an increase in the number of students who we disqualified from the program for academic and personality reasons. The attitudes expressed toward teachers during discussions of teacher pay in the state made the most capable students look to other careers to gain advantage from their talent and educations. And we also noted that former students who were a few years into teaching careers were seeking non-teaching jobs and that experienced teachers were advising their own children and talented students against teaching as a career. One teacher pointed out that no one wants their children to be trained to be a bonded servant.

    South Dakota’s lowest ranking in the nation in teacher pay is an expression of the value that the state places on teaching and education. It is part of a dominant attitude that expresses the ruling faction’s level of regard for education and educators.

  8. Mike Verchio 2014.12.06

    Jeni W
    We tried that in 2012 with HB1234 & educators crucified it .

  9. leslie 2014.12.06

    don, dave-superb comments. repubs got theirs, so screw everybody else, just like a "view". if money goes to educators, thats a chunk the elite can't get for themselves and friends. this rationale prevades the 1%. put that money at risk so they can get at that too.

  10. JeniW 2014.12.06

    To be blunt, I really do not think that education is a concern or priority to most. If it were, there would be more willingness to donate money beyond the forced taxes to support education.

    There are pockets of people who are concerned about education, but for most, people are seeing that kids are attending school, they are getting fed during school hours (as they should be,) the standardized test scores remain relatively high, teachers continue to give it their all and invest their earnings in classroom supplies, so although things might not be wonderful, they are good enough for now.

    It will only become a real priority when schools are forced to cut classroom hours, reduce the subjects that are being taught, and there are not enough teachers to keep the schools open, will it become a pressing concern.

  11. Tim 2014.12.06

    Jeni, that time is coming.

  12. Jana 2014.12.06

    Mike V. Unpack HB1234 for us please.

    From my perspective, in its language and tone, HB1234 was disrespectful to teachers and based on untruths and unverified anecdotes.

    Face it, the legislature has no courage when to it comes to respecting our education system, our kids and our teachers. Now the new meme coming out of the 2nd floor is to blame shift the problem to local school boards and taxpayers.

    Rep. Vericho, we welcome you here and hope you will engage in an honest debate and keep us posted during the legislative session.

  13. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.12.06

    Rep. Verchio, don't misrepresent 2012's HB 1234 or what voters "crucified" when they referred that school-wrecking law. The critical needs teaching scholarship was the only tolerable and mildly (though not sufficiently) useful part of HB 1234. The rest of the bill—quota-based merit pay, ending continuing contract, centrally-mandated teacher and administrator evaluations, special bonuses limited to math and science instead of identifying the value of and needs in all academic fields—was crap. That crap motivated lots of citizens, including me, to march petitions to refer HB 1234, and voters killed HB 1234 because of that crap.

    When the 2013 Legislature pulled the Critical Needs Scholarship program out of the rightfully referred wreckage of HB 1234 and proposed it as standalone legislation in 2013's SB 233, it passed just fine and didn't draw any referral push or complaint from voters. Aside from the fact that the Critical Needs Scholarship doesn't make up for the money students lose by teaching in South Dakota, SB 233 is a fine program.

    Of course, you didn't think so, Rep. Verchio. You voted against 2013 SB 233. So don't come here pretending that you give a damn about paying teachers more to alleviate the teacher shortage. What's your plan for taking care of the problem? Or are you happy to see fewer meddlesome, critically-thinking teachers in South Dakota challenging your destructive politics?

  14. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.12.06

    Jana, may I unpack some more for you on HB 1234?

  15. Jana 2014.12.06

    Please do Cory!

  16. grudznick 2014.12.06

    If Teachers can't figure out how to make bonuses and raises for good teachers better than those for not as good teachers then they have no hope. would have paid bigger raises to the good teachers and they attacked it with their unions. Now it is up to the teachers to figure out the next step. That fellow in the union, Mr. Pogany, he is at least bringing a plan to try instead of just whining. Let us see how his plan goes.

  17. Gail Swenson 2014.12.06

    Dr. Pogany is the Executive Director of the Associated School Boards of South Dakota--not a union. Please get your facts straight, Mr. Grudznick.

  18. grudznick 2014.12.06

    I'm terribly sorry, Ms. Swenson. But to most South Dakotans, this Associated School Boards of South Dakota is pretty much like a union for teachers. Nobody can tell the difference between the SDTU and the ASBSD and the SDEA. Ask around.

  19. Jana 2014.12.06

    You need to run around with a more informed crowd Grudz. Teachers know the difference as do administrators and board members, don't let the alphabet soup get in the way of research.

  20. Gail Swenson 2014.12.06

    Mr. Grudznick-as a school administrator, I find your premise laughable--as would teachers, SDEA, and ASBSD. Who is SDTU? A new group you're forming?

  21. grudznick 2014.12.06

    Again, I'm sorry Ms. Swenson. Golly gee I didn't meant get your goat.

  22. Deb Geelsdottir 2014.12.06

    Donald Pay and David Newquist have it exactly right. Especially this from Don : "There has been a two-generation long drumbeat of disrespect for teachers coming from the political right and from Republican and some Democratic politicians."

    Dumbing down the population is the key to power. Unlike North Korea, where access to information is tightly controlled, in America people are taught to disregard information that contradicts the goals of the 1%. It's frightening.

  23. Gail Swenson 2014.12.06

    The real point of this post was to discuss the teacher shortage. The universities in this state that prepare students for education will graduate 726 new teachers this year. However, we have 1,004 current teachers who could retire this year, leaving a gap of 278 positions unfilled--assuming all education graduates stay in the state, which is unlikely, and assuming that every retiree's position would have a qualified new teacher.

    We don't even know what the numbers are looking like for hard to fill positions--which is almost becoming every position. To compound the situation, there are 150 fewer juniors who are majoring in education. Teacher pay is a concern, and a major part of the shortage. But the lack of respect for the profession looms even greater for most.

    The national platform for the Right, led by the Koch Brothers and the Heritage Foundation is to eliminate public education and privatize it, so they can make more money. Our SD legislators buy into that platform every time they attend ALEC training and bring home boilerplate legislation concerning education.

    Until the general public starts asking questions of local educators and finding out how proposals from Pierre impact their local schools, people won't understand. I would encourage citizens to attend their local school board meetings, talk with their local administrators and find out how the governor's funding proposal will impact their school. Ask about the sales tax proposal and the capital outlay proposal. The sales tax proposal, which could impact teacher salaries probably won't pass. The capital outlay proposal, which will negatively impact schools, probably will pass.

    Get informed. Support your local schools and the people who work in them.

  24. Jana 2014.12.06

    So how do we energize those 726 students who invested money in becoming a teacher to invest in becoming politically active?

  25. Gail Swenson 2014.12.06

    That would be the key for the state political parties and SDEA, wouldn't it, Jana? Those students need to organize like their futures depend on it--because it does.

  26. grudznick 2014.12.06

    Seems to me like a little humility would go a long ways to earning some respect.

  27. Donald Pay 2014.12.06

    Grudz: "Seems to me like a little humility would go a long ways to earning some respect."

    Good advise for Republican lawmakers. I hope they take it to heart.

    Who's been in charge in South Dakota for 30 years or more? Whose education policy and education funding formula has South Dakota been saddled with for two generations?

    The Republican brand of "education reform" and their funding formula have failed, and yet somehow they never admit their failure, of course. Oh, no. It's just predictable: their policies fail, so they bash and blame the teachers. Teachers, they say, need humility. Somehow teachers made them pass all those bills, and failed to fund education adequately.

    They concoct a monstrosity, like HB 1234, saying that education policy has failed, and act as if they just got elected yesterday. Hello??!!! Who's been running state government? Who's been passing shitless bills for two generations? And you think teachers should trust you on HB 1234? Are you a dunce?

    When is there any accountability and humility with Republican legislators and Governors? Never.

  28. Greg 2014.12.06

    I attended school in a smaller school in eastern SD and my kids attended the same school. Our biggest worry was if our enrollment would be large enough to keep our school. It looks like now our biggest worry will be that we will run out of teachers. The teacher shortage is real and if it is not addressed soon it will be too late to avoid a hell of a problem that cannot be fixed.

  29. Roger Elgersma 2014.12.06

    GenXers and Millenials do not trust government as well as previous generations did. Now when we give them proof year after year that they are not going to do as well in South Dakota for pay, we are just reinforcing their negative attitude.
    But when we had the minimum wage on the ballot, even though there are more republicans than democrats and a higher percentage of republicans voted, the raise in the minimum wage passed anyways. So the people are clearly not as conservative as the legislature on pay issues.

  30. JeniW 2014.12.07

    There is an article in today's local newspaper about the teacher's pay and teacher shortage.

    One of the concepts that I had read in previous articles is mentioned again in this article, that is to increase sales tax by 1% during the summer months to be used for teacher's pay.

    It will be something that the legislators will be considering, whether it has Daugaard's blessing is not certain.

    The two things that concern me is that this tax increase is a "band-aid" fix, and secondly, it pushes the responsibility of funding of educating the youth onto the out-of-state, and out-of country, visitors. It also just kicks the can down the road.

    IMO, it would be like expecting my neighbor to help pay the cost of providing clothing for my children (if I had children.)

    Tax increase to support education is needed, but I would argue to have it increased by a half percent for the whole year. That would help generate funds and put the responsibility exactly where it should be.

  31. mike from iowa 2014.12.07

    Gail Swneson-Grudz is insaner than most.

  32. grudznick 2014.12.07

    Mr. Pay is on the money mark about the legislatures getting a little humility too. You know they go there and eat free food and pretty soon their heads all swell up gigantically. Even the best of the legislatures who start out humble end up really full of themselves when they are done wallowing at the trough.

  33. Gail Swenson 2014.12.07

    JeniW-The other problem with the 1% sales tax proposal is twofold for me:
    1. It is a regressive tax and hits the poor harder than those who are not struggling economically
    2. The timing during the summer months when those struggling families also need to feed their children. There aren't school breakfast and lunch programs in all schools during the summer, so we are taxing essentials, like food, more during that time.
    If we really wanted to hit tourists, we'd pass a bed and booze tax. Have you noticed your hotel bill if you travel out of state? The taxes and fees are incredible. Although I believe there is something inherently wrong with using a booze tax to fund education, I believe it is a bigger injustice to use a regressive tax that burdens those who are struggling economically to fund education.

  34. tara volesky 2014.12.07

    40 plus states have a personal and corporate income tax which takes the burden off property taxes. That's how they pay their teachers. It will never happen in SD.

  35. Tim 2014.12.07

    Tara is right, republicans in the legislature will never tax their corporate buddies and the people won't support an income tax, myself, I think an income tax is a better way to go but the property taxes have to go way down if they do an income tax.
    Could legalize marijuana and fund education with that tax money, just a thought.

  36. grudznick 2014.12.07

    We should double up on the taxes on cigarettes too. Really crank it to those people who are always in line ahead of you buying packs of cigs off the back shelf and slowing up the line. Those people buy lottery tickets too. Have you ever noticed that? Can we tax lottery tickets more?

  37. JeniW 2014.12.07

    Tim, I am temporarily hijacking this topic since you brought up the taxing marijuana, waiting to see what the federal legislators will do with the state of Colorado for legalizing and taxing marijuana. The Republicans are now in control, and pass just about anything they want to without objection.

    I am thinking that it could be that the federal legislators see a heap of money being generated by the sale of pot, and will want a portion of it, or if they will think the state of Colorado is collecting enough tax money that it no longer needs federal funding, or reduces the federal funding.

    We will see if, and when, the federal shoe will drop, so to speak.

    Sorry Cory, I will end the digressing....

  38. Bill Fleming 2014.12.07

    Tim, don't count on it. The state lottery was sold as a funding tool for education. What it turned out to be was mild property tax relief courtesy of addictive personalities and the mathematically impaired. :-)

  39. Tim 2014.12.07

    Yeah I know Bill, once funds fall into that pit they call the general fund, nobody really knows for sure what happens to it.

  40. Jana 2014.12.07

    Gail is exactly right and brings up a great point on the bed and booze tax. We are far lower than other states and it wouldn't change travelers visiting South Dakota.

  41. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.12.07

    Speaking of HB 1234, I learn from Michael Larson that the meatheads at that Sioux Falls paper think that the "solution" to low teacher pay is for teachers to compromise and accept the worst part of HB 1234, Daugaard's merit pay proposal. Wow—it's as if Daugaard and the Republicans are determined to squeeze us long enough and hard enough that we'll surrender to anything, even bad policy that's been proven not to work. (On the failure of merit pay, see also this presentation from 2012.)

    We just don't get a break: When we aren't fighting Republican inaction, we're fighting Republican bad action.

  42. Moses 2014.12.07

    Let the Thune girls come back and figure it out for us. Evidently their dad had the presidents year, as well not of Daugarrd.

  43. Greg 2014.12.07

    I am ok with an increase in the Bed & Booze tax, although we South Dakotans should take some responsibility and contribute. Raising sales tax on new vehicles to 4% would raise a fair amount of money. Used vehicles could be left @ 3%.

  44. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.12.07

    Gail, those are scary numbers. Is there any solid estimate of how many of those 1004 potential retirees will indeed step down? And are those just age-out retirements? Do we face additional openings from the usual turnover among younger teachers?

    If the running calculation for openings our teacher grads can't fill is 278, please subtract one—I'll be back somewhere, angling for some school to put me to work (assuming, of course, I don't get David Montgomery's job ;-) ).

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