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Sen. Novstrup Says Latest Education Summer Study Will Be Different (from Last Ten)

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?

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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).
  8. 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.


  1. Tim 2015.02.08

    Running out the clock...again. Seems to be the one thing (besides taking care of business) that state republicans are good at. Next years excuse to get them past 2016 should be interesting, pathetic I'm sure, but interesting.

  2. Eileen Van Soest 2015.02.08

    You should be selected to participate, Cory. How can we "lobby" to make that happen?

  3. Tim 2015.02.08

    Eileen, that will never happen, state Republicans wouldn't let Cory within 100 yards of a committee room.

  4. Owen 2015.02.08

    Kicking the can down the road as Daugaard likes to say. It's a waste of time. As you've pointed out this has been studied to death and I bet with some more research the studies go back even further.
    My Senator from District 19 Bill Van Gerpen, yesterday at our cracker barrel, thought that maybe Daugaard was still angry about what happened with HB1234. He might be right.

  5. Paul Seamans 2015.02.08

    I contend that the legislature still wants to close small schools through consolidation. Not funding these schools adequately is one way of achieving that.

  6. Tim 2015.02.08

    Paul, not funding schools in general is the road to privatization, that is the ultimate Republican goal.

  7. larry kurtz 2015.02.08

    66 county seats, people: how is that conservative?

  8. Rod Hall 2015.02.08

    Let us hope Mitchell's Supt. Rv. Dr Joe Graves does not get named to that group. That would be a disaster for education but glory for the Republicans.

  9. caheidelberger Post author | 2015.02.08

    Eileen, call your legislators! I'll start by walking down my street to David's house and asking to be on. :-)

  10. Tim 2015.02.08

    Cory, be careful, after the grilling I'm sure you gave him yesterday he may call the cops on you today.

  11. Donald Pay 2015.02.08

    It's been clear for about 15 years. No one needs any more study.

    The education funding formula does not fund education. It was never meant to do so.

    It's not as if other states didn't create very similar funding gimmicks. South Dakota, Wisconsin, Oregon and other states developed similar funding formulas at that time to deal with a property tax problem in the early to mid-1990s. It was supposed to be temporary.

    This funding mechanism in South Dakota was never based on educational need. No Legislative committee actually decided what programs it wanted to see funded, how much of a boost there should be for teacher salaries, etc. There was no study or commitment back then in South Dakota about what should the state fund.

    In others states, there was a lot more thought put into it. In Wisconsin, the formula change came with a commitment (rarely met) to fund two-thirds of the education budget. States with an income tax could make that pledge during the Clinton economy. South Dakota has never upped its commitment to fund education above its measly 30-34%.

    The 1990s gimmick confused a lot of people, partly because Bill Janklow insisted on counting the same money twice: property tax relief through the education formula was counted as both education money and property tax relief.

    That was fine if you understand it was a gimmick to buy a few years to really fix education funding. But South Dakota didn't end up fixing the formula. It continued to use a temporary measure in which it refused to increase education spending.

  12. David Newquist 2015.02.08

    When it comes to education in the GOP mentality, the last thing wanted is someone on a study committee that actually values education and has some knowledge and experience in its delivery. Since the Nation At Risk study was published in the early 1980s, the studies purported to examine education have been notable for the fact that none of the study groups have included teachers with established credentials as knowledgeable and effective educators. A few commissions have put token teachers on their panel who would tacitly support the anti-intellectual line.

    The GOP does not want people educated to examine and think about their circumstances. It was mindless, workers who can be duped into thinking that subsistence wages and deference to their masters are their patriotic duties.

    The GOP mentality was explicitly expressed last week when Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker submitted his budget ruinous cuts to he University of Wisconsin system. He cut out the "search for truth" from the mission statement and replaced it with meeting the worker needs of the state.

  13. Curt 2015.02.08

    Owen -
    Re Van Gerpen's HB 1234 comment ... the Gov probably still is carrying that grudge - I know Rep J Sly (House Ed Comm Chr) certainly is. Care to make a small wager that the 'blue-ribbon' panel doesn't come up with recommendations that closely resemble HB 1234?

  14. Richard Schriever 2015.02.08

    At the District 6 legislative coffee, I asked Senator Ernie Otten (R Tea) if there was perhaps some idea that there would be a move to regionalize administrative and logistics services as opposed to multi-school redundancies - as a cost-savings. His response was "Everything is on the table." Of course, to every other question he was asked about any ideas about this "reform" process - his response was "Everything's on the table."
    I was going to ask how many previous such "blue-ribbon panels" had been convened, and what had come out of them, but as I didn't have a ready knowledge of the specifics - I didn't. Wish you had posted this yesterday Corey. I'll pin 'em at the next coffee in 2 weeks.

  15. 96Tears 2015.02.08

    Governor George S. Mickelson in 1987 empaneled his own Blue Ribbon Committee on Education. They issued a report. They said teacher pay needed to stop being 51st in the nation. George took that as more evidence that increasing the state sales tax to create a slush fund for corporations seeking the lowest paid wage earners was the answer. Oh, yeah, he called himself the education governor.

    Twenty-eight years and several studies of taxation and education and other bullshit later, we are worse off than ever with the state's commitment to funding education from kindergarten to state universities. Fat cats are getting their pockets filled, but where's the progress?

    Not that I think anyone is stupid enough to hope this is not another gimmicky study, but when are people going to wake up their state is being screwed over by a bunch of crooks?

  16. mike from iowa 2015.02.08

    How many South Dakota wingnuts does it take to change a light bulb? None-they want to keep the public in the dark.

  17. Tim 2015.02.08

    96, SD taxpayers have been getting screwed hard by the ruling party for decades. They seem to be enjoying it, they keep electing them.

  18. Owen 2015.02.08

    I think you're right Curt, All we have to remember how the Governor and Dusty Johnson and others were high-fiveing each other.
    I can only imagine how they felt when the voters got rid of HB1234.
    Now you have a Governor who issues Blue Ribbons panels and a Senator who proposed SB166. A bill, even though it was tabled, that would haven weaken the initiative and referendum process.

  19. Bob Mercer 2015.02.08

    Regarding the Mickelson-era study, he seemed sincere about seeking to raise teacher salaries. As i recall, he proposed legislation that offered state funding to match local increases. If memory is accurate, that proposal turned into a tool for Democrats in the subsequent legislative elections, as Democrats accused Republicans of seeking to increase property taxes. Mickelson also commissioned a panel on tax fairness that met for two years. All of this came to a head in 1994 with the citizen-driven ballot measure that would have limited property taxes to 1 percent of assessed value. The nominees for governor, Democrat Jim Beddow and Republican Bill Janklow, pledged they would reduce property taxes from the 1994 level. That led to Janklow as governor in 1995 creating the property-tax relief program that delivered the 30 percent relief through reductions in education taxes and increases from state government (and taking away the personal property tax relief that was already going to counties). It took approximately five to six years to deliver the full 30 percent relief. The school-funding formula was / is designed to provide an equal allocation per student regardless of the school district's relative property-value wealth. The formula survived at least one major test in state court. People wanted property tax relief in 1994; the 1 percent limit nearly passed and likely would have passed without Beddow's promise and Janklow's agreement to do the same. Janklow offered opt-outs as a way for school districts to raise more money. He thought school boards would use opt-outs as a way to distinguish their districts by paying more for certain things, such as good teachers. Instead opt-outs have come to be seen as a penalty in many districts and as life-support when districts struggle financially. The cut made in 2011 at Gov. Dennis Daugaard's request still hasn't been fully restored. Meanwhile the Legislature gave school districts more freedom on capital outlay levies, and that is causing grief again for rural property owners who feel the burden. So long as South Dakota's state government relies on economy-driven taxes, education won't be funded well by state government. There simply isn't enough money to go around from state government's tax base. If you want to spend more, you have to tax more. It's that simple. Local school boards don't want to tax more unless it's absolutely necessary to keep their schools open; instead the school groups want state government to find the extra money. That means a state tax increase, and voters delivered their message two elections ago when they rejected the additional 1 percent of sales tax that would have gone 50-50 to Medicaid and K-12. Bottom line: Our economy isn't strong enough to do more for education and our voters don't seem to want to do more for education.

    I'm not saying I agree or disagree with any of this, but those are the facts.

  20. grudznick 2015.02.08

    The teacher union should vote on their representative not just have Mr. H blog bully his way on by browbeating the young Novstrup brother.

  21. grudznick 2015.02.08

    Also would have given more money to good teachers even with all of Mr. Mercer's facts. Those facts are indisputable and it will come back around to the whiners figuring out how to sort themselves out. Don't tax me for just you, the people said.

  22. WayneF 2015.02.08

    Curt and Owen, I agree:

    ANOTHER effing study of education funding!?

    DD is clearly still sore about the referendum that overturned his efforts on HB 1234.

    Sen. Brown's (withdrawn) proposal (1066) to double the number of signatures to get a bill on the ballot is in the same spirit: delay, postpone, restrict the democratic process.

    I hope someone will do the work to see how much ALEC and the Koch brothers are behind this.

    Hey ... SD Legislature and Governor DD: just do what it takes to provide adequate funding for the most important economic development.

  23. Owen 2015.02.08

    what's a ""good" teacher Grud?

  24. 96Tears 2015.02.08

    Assuming Mr. Mercer's facts are correct and South Dakota's tax base (a rather selective tax base) is incapable of producing enough money to make South Dakota's education system competitive, then those facts lead to one conclusion. The Republicans have had it their way since 1979 and failed. I don't know, maybe it's time to try something else.

  25. grudznick 2015.02.08

    Owen, you would think the teachers could define that for us all but since the union won't let them use those big brains they get stuck with other people defining who the best, the average, and the subpar are.

  26. caheidelberger Post author | 2015.02.08

    Mr. Mercer's mention of the Mickelson match plan gets me wondering: what if the state offered to match any local school district opt-out dollars?

  27. caheidelberger Post author | 2015.02.08

    Not again. You really had your heart invested in wrecking education with HB 1234, didn't you, Grudz? Didn't I mention above that the 2001 summer study found little if any evidence that merit pay worked... only to see the Legislature propose merit pay bills the next two years in a row? What is it about evidence that is so hard for you to grok?

  28. Jana 2015.02.08

    Here's and easy way for the new study to work.

    Match the results to legislative pay they want to teacher pay based on effectiveness using the ACT test results.

    Listening to the whining coming out of Pierre that they need more and compare it to what other states pay their legislators, it seems this is a better way to gauge pay.

  29. mike from iowa 2015.02.08

    Beyond barriers to voting, ALEC is also committed to building barriers to direct democracy. Horrified by the success of living-wage referendums and other projects that have allowed voters to enact protections for workers and regulations for businesses, ALEC’s corporate sponsors have pushed to toughen the rules for voter initiatives. “The legislative process should be the principal policy-making vehicle for developing state law,” declares one 2006 resolution, which specifically mentions concerns about state minimum wage laws, taxation and “the funding of other government programs and services.” ALEC’s Resolution to Reform the Ballot Initiatives Process recommends making it harder to qualify referendum language and suggests that proposals on fiscal issues should require supermajorities to become law.

    From ALEC Exposed-Rigging Elections.

  30. Owen 2015.02.08

    I'm guessing Grud that the teachers would love to define what a good teacher. People like you won't let that happen.
    You talk like SDEA has power. It really don't. The thing it can do is to be sure a teacher is treated fairly

  31. Tim 2015.02.08

    Cory, if they did that wouldn't property owners in this state get hammered twice? Once on the opt-out and again by the state. Assuming they won't touch those business tax loopholes they are so proud of, and an income tax will never happen here. If they did that and all districts opted out like I assume they would, then I would have a hard time justifying continuing to own property here. Without the house I would have no reason to stay, it certainly isn't SD wages, quality of life or cost of living that keeps me here now. I'm sure I'm not the only one that would feel that way. The state would lose more than a few good people.

  32. Tim 2015.02.08

    Mike, thanks for the link, all you need to do to see what our legislature is up too is read that, it's all in there.

  33. Donald Pay 2015.02.08

    Bob, That's a nice summary of how we got where we are. I think it really does support my contention that the education funding formula is primarily a property tax reduction/limitation measure, not a formula that supports education at an adequate level.

    One thing missing from your analysis is the lack of state effort. You can look at it as an unwillingness to tax at the local level, but facts demonstrate otherwise.

    In most surrounding states local effort per pupil is about the same as in South Dakota. South Dakota gets a bit more federal education aid (on a per pupil basis). But state effort per pupil is about half what surrounding states offer. The problem is that state is a deadbeat. Enough time has gone by to really see the effect of the formula, and its becoming clear that it will soon, if it doesn't already, lead to a violation of the state Constitution.

    Janklow did offer the opt out, but that's just not a realistic tool for a district to use repeatedly. (Beside, it's really an unconstitutional shift of the Constitutional responsibility for providing for education.) Also, use of the opt out variably across the state would lead to an unequal education system. So, districts wait and wait and wait until they are desperate.

    Janklow was right about some districts "rat-holing" (his term) money that the Legislature had appropriated for education. There was too much of that, but after five years of Janklow's education formula most of that money had been eaten away.

  34. caheidelberger Post author | 2015.02.08

    I agree with 96's observation that, if Mercer's bottom line is true, if South Dakota's economy cannot support greater investment in education, then 35 years of GOP rule has failed. That's what I was saying about Daugaardonomics after the December budget address: economic development über alles has failed to produce the boat-floating effect the Republicans promised us; it's time to go back to direct investment in public goods.

    But I also challenge Mercer's bottom line. In 2013, South Dakota's per capita personal income was 19th in the nation and $1,400 above the national average. We have more wealth per person to spend on education than other states, but we invest less. We need to economic windfall to change that situation; we need political will.

  35. mike from iowa 2015.02.08

    In short,Cory means you need Dems in charge.

  36. Tim 2015.02.08

    Cory, the problem with your state wealth is the fact 61% of jobs available in SD are low wage jobs, ranging between $8.50 and $12.00 an hour. This indicates that quite a bit of the states wealth is concentrated, good luck getting anything out of them. I'll see if I can still find the link to my numbers.

  37. Tim 2015.02.08

    This isn't the first article I seen but it has most of the numbers in it, talks about current new job levels nationally but you will get the idea. Based strictly on the SD trends it does indicate that wealth is fairly concentrated here and you can bet they will want republicans running things. 96's observation may be more correct than anybody wants to admit. Bottom line is failed republican policy for the masses, but their better off friends are doing okay.

  38. bearcreekbat 2015.02.08

    Tim's link is eye opening. It indicates that South Dakota ranks first in the nation at 61% of our jobs paying less than $15 per hour. We even beat poor southern states like Alabama, Mississippi, the Carolinas, Louisiana, and even Texas. See Figure #2. Is this something our midwestern state leaders are really proud of?

  39. Tim 2015.02.08

    bear, I found it disturbing, we seem to be first or last in a lot of bad categories. Since our rulers don't seem to be interested in changing anything one would have to assume this is what they want.

  40. 96Tears 2015.02.08

    Cory and Tim - Earlier I had wanted to include a statement made by former Attorney General Mark Meierhenry from several years ago. The topic was taxation and the state's abysmal allocation to education, compared to other states. Meierhenry, as Tim also framed it, said the state currently has more than sufficient available moneys to fund education competitively (high concentration of untaxed wealth among the well-heeled), but chooses not to use that option.

    At the same time, Republicans (and some Democrats) deride teachers as overpaid, unionist concealers of bad teachers who get three months off every year. That, of course, is total bullshit. But, alas, it's the stuff that sells across income and age lines and has sold for generations.

    If you want to stay in South Dakota, your head must shrink to the size of a pin if you want to fit in.

    And, by God Almighty and in Jesus' name, put guns in the hands of every man, woman and child and carry them around. Out in the open! 'Cause the 2nd Amendment is the one that matters most. Right?

    USA! Freedom!

  41. bearcreekbat 2015.02.08

    Tim, I too find this disturbing. I have a desire to see the good in people, but the facts about SD seem to rain on my parade regularly. Dang it!

  42. bearcreekbat 2015.02.08

    96, If I am not mistaken Mark Meierhenry was a Republican who sought justice for all. A quite different breed than we see today, and one who would probably be evicted from the party as either a RINO or someone who was unwilling to hurt the citizens of this state to benefit the powers who held the purse strings.

  43. jerry 2015.02.08

    State leaders are aware of that bearcreekbat, that is why they want to pay their Pierre workers at the statehouse more money. As far as everyone else goes, well, we have the low cost of living meme that they live and breathe. When you are as well off as most of these clowns are, and of the crew that finances them, you tend to think the 47% are just having life to damn easy or should I say the 61%.

  44. Roger Elgersma 2015.02.08

    When DD had his five thousand dollar bonus on the table, I was visiting some college friends in Texas, not a liberal state, and we were at a Presbyterian Bible study(Right wing tea party types) and I mentioned that South Dakota was thinking about giving the best teachers a five thousand dollar bonus. They immediately replied that their best teachers already get fifteen thousand bonus. They also start out with higher starting pay. So some very conservative people in Texas believe in paying much more and they are not necessarily the best in quality of education but they are at least trying. So conservative and South Dakota conservative are not always the same.

  45. grudznick 2015.02.08

    If Texas can identify who their best teachers are, I have confidence that South Dakota teachers can come up with a way to sort themselves out.

  46. Curt 2015.02.08

    Grudz - When was the last time you saw the inside of a classroom?

  47. grudznick 2015.02.08

    Mr. Curt. It was a really long time ago. I went to some of my granddaughters conferences back in the day but she's a grown woman now. Do they still have blackboards and teaching in classrooms these days?

  48. grudznick 2015.02.08

    Is Texas identifying their best teachers in different classrooms?

  49. Curt 2015.02.08

    Mr Grudz - I think you've made my point for me.

  50. Jenny 2015.02.08

    Another proud ranking -SD first in the nation for people working low wage (below 15/hr). I've said it here before and I'll say it again - the decline of Unions and their bargaining power is a major reason for the low wage problem in this country. Anti-Union conservative policies and laws such as Taft-Hartley Act in 1947 (right to work, restriction on strikes, picketing) began the slow disappearance of a living wage.
    Don't cross that picket line! When I first moved to MN, the state workers were in the midst of a strike and I needed to go into the government center. The picketers came over to me asking me if I would support them and not cross. I was taken aback at such courageous workers fighting for their rights, and so began my pride for all things Union!

  51. o 2015.02.08

    I have decided to believe that this study will be different. First, I think the whole bridges and roads discussion has paved a new path for SD politics. In that discussion, the focus was not only on the size of the current "pie" of funding, but the need for quality roads, the state of disrepair, AND how to generate funding, new funding, to fix that problem. I have honest hope that education can chart the same course when not under a political microscope of a legislative session. Secondly, this study group is to have teachers at the table for the discussion (as well as other education stakeholders). If I had to point to the real downfall of 1234, it was that teacher were not included in the discussion of the draft of that policy, as such, it included several propositions that were detrimental to effective education policy (and I know there is still disagreement over that but . . .). A collaborative environment will be the key to resolving the education hole SD fonts itself in.

    Grudznick - glad to see you back on a teacher discussion posturing that there is not an evaluation system for teachers in SD - even after I posted the link to the state evaluation tool for you the last time we went around on this issue. Here again is the link to the model that was designed by the Commission on Teaching and Learning ( a cooperative effort between DOE and SDEA with input form school board and administration representatives): I'm sure I will see you back here again soon enough denying SD has any accountability or evaluation model again to promote your union slurring.

  52. Curt 2015.02.08

    You certainly seem to have a 'glass-half-full' sort of outlook. What are you drinking?

  53. grudznick 2015.02.08

    Mr/s o, can we not use that evaluation to give raises to good teachers? This seems a simple thing. Use that evaluation that the union helped create to give raises to the good teachers.

  54. o 2015.02.08

    Curt: My optimism comes from what I see as a shift (all be it subtle) is the SD political climate fostered by the bridges and roads funding discussion and the undeniable preponderance of evidence that there is an education problem that harms the children, the teachers, the profession, and the long-term sustainability of this state.

    Grudznick: Currently schools use that evaluation/growth tool to have "good" teachers period. How about at least a hint of evidence of the "bad" teacher boogie man you consistently imply. The devaluation of teachers in SD is not fixed by a band-aid applied to some artificially metered top-echelon of the profession.

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