Senator David Novstrup (R-3/Aberdeen) told his Aberdeen crackerbarrel audience yesterday that the education task force proposed by Governor Dennis Daugaard will be very different from previous legislative summer studies that have dealt with school finance and teacher pay:
Hmmm... how many summer studies has the Legislature done on education?
- 2013: The Interim Education Funding Formula Study Committee recommended five bills and two resolutions (HB 1001, HB 1002, HB 1003, HB 1004, HB 1005, HCR 1001, and HCR 1002). The Legislature rejected all five bills in committee. 17 Republicans, including then-Rep. Novstrup, couldn't stomach even the meager resolution acknowledging the existence of a teacher shortage.
- Nine legislators oversaw a Department of Education School Finance Study in 2005 and 2006. I didn't notice South Dakota's teacher pay ranking go up.
- 2004: Legislators spent the summer conducting an agency review of the Department of Education. They talked about No Child Left Behind but recommended no legislation.
- 2003: The Legislature empaneled the School District Educational Equality and Organization Committee. The 2004 Legislature passed two of the four bills (aye: HB 1001 and HB 1003; nay: HB 1002 and HB 1004) proposed by the interim committee, neither of which provided schools with more resources.
- 2002: The School Finance Committee heard the widespread perception that state aid to education was too low. Two bills recommended by this committee (HB 1001 and SB 6) to increase state aid to education, along with several other independently submitted proposals, failed in the 2003 Session.
- 2002: The Teacher Enhancement Review Committee met to dig deeper into a bill proposed in the 2002 Session by Rep. Matt McCaulley to fund merit pay for "master teachers." The committee proposed a similar bill to give performance bonuses of $1,000 to $6,000; the 2003 bill died in committee.
- 2001: The Teacher Credentialing and Compensation Committee heard that there was little if any national evidence to show that performance pay works. The committee recommended a mentor program for teachers (SB 5—passed!), funding for counselors in every school (SB 6—failed), and full tuition reimbursement for teachers who served in critical needs fields in South Dakota for ten years (HB 1004—failed).
- I also find summer study committees on education and school finance meeting in 2000, 1999, and 1998.
Ten summer studies in seventeen years, bringing all sorts of education professionals and policymakers to the table have not budged South Dakota's dubious distinction as the state that values teachers least. Senator Novstrup, do you really think that another summer study is going to tell you anything you don't already know or, more importantly, change your attitude and make you vote to spend the money it takes to end South Dakota's denigration of the the teaching profession?
That said, if this eleventh summer study really will distinguish itself, count me in! Put me on the committee to represent parents and teachers. I'll be glad to help you make the difference that ten preceding summer gabfests have not.