Sanity, sweet sanity... from Republicans!

Rep. Anne Hajek (R-14/Sioux Falls) finds Senate Bill 128, which would protect bullying based on sexual orientation as a perfectly reasonable expression of religious freedom, just one example of "scary" legislation with which her party embarrasses South Dakota:

"The media picks up on these bills and people think about moving to South Dakota and they say, 'Oh, crazies are out there," Hajek said.

At Saturday's Legislative Coffee, Hajek spoke openly about the Senate Bill 128, calling the bill quote "scary." She isn't backing off those comments.

"Discrimination is so near and dear to my heart that I am very troubled that anyone would propose that legislation," Hajek said [Leland Steva, "Republican Lawmaker Disgusted with Legislation,", 2014.02.03].

Thank you, Rep. Hajek.

Also earning kudos for Republican sanity is Sen. Ried Holien (R-5/Watertown), who responds to anti-SB 128 petitioner Alexis Krivoshik with this apology for sponsoring SB 128:

I want to apologize to everyone on this list that my name is attached to SB 128. In the first few weeks of session, we get presented hundreds of bills to sign on. In this case, I was in two different conversations and signed on thinking this was a different bill. Please look at my legislative history and see that I have no history of sponsoring similar bills.

I wish I had a better excuse, but I don't. I wish I could remove my name from this bill, but I cannot at this time. Please know that I will vote against it if I have the chance.

Please know that I am sincerely sorry.
Ried Holien
State Senator, District 5 [, 2014.02.03]

Apology accepted, Senator Holien, with great relief. I am deeply heartened to know that there are some legislators, like Rep. Hajek and Sen. Holien, who seem less interested in fighting the culture war and more interested in doing serious policy... for all South Dakotans.


Thar she blows! House Bill 1234 puts Governor Dennis Daugaard's really bad education reform ideas on paper for the South Dakota Legislature to debate and (please, please, please) kill. The details:

  • $3980 bonus to every high school and middle school math and science teacher who applies. One need not be a full-time math teacher: the standard is 51% of an FTE teaching math or science. The money comes in a lump sum; school districts may disburse $480 of that check to cover retirement, taxes, and adminsitrative costs (really? the business manager gets to skim?), leaving the teacher with a guaranteed $3500 in pocket.
  • $5700 bonus to up to 20% of the best teachers in each district. We round down: If your district has 99 teachers, up to 19 get bonuses. The district can keep $700 to cover taxes, retirement, and admin.
  • To qualify for a bonus, teachers need to get a "distinguished" rating on the evaluation instrument to be concocted by a 20-person workgroup consisting of teachers (pick me!), administrators, board members, parents, and reps from SDEA, SASD, and ASBSD. This criterion means that we aren't guaranteeing bonuses to 20% of the faculty: if a district has 100 teachers, 99 rate "proficient," and only one rates "distinguished," only that one latter teacher gets a bonus.
  • In addition to the "distinguished" rating, teachers may also demonstrate their bonus-worthiness by engaging in the following activities (that scratching sound you hear is teachers already taking notes and updating résumés):
    1. mentoring of less experienced teachers;
    2. curriculum development;
    3. assessment development;
    4. data analysis;
    5. service to the local district, state, or national committees or task forces;
    6. leadership in a professional learning community;
    7. national board certification (by the way, did you know that credentials don't predict teacher performance? oh, all that effort that could be spent instead actually working with kids...);
    8. other leadership activities or recognitions;
    9. additional criteria determined by the school board.
  • Experienced teachers lose their right to due process if their contract is not renewed.

HB 1234 emphasizes that participation in the bonus programs is voluntary. If any math or science teacher does not want the $3980, that teacher may simply skip filling out the application. Likewise the merit bonuses: if we really believe that merit pay is an ineffective and counterproductive policy, we teachers can shout "we're not racing!" and decline to apply.

Participation in the state-mandated evaluation scheme, alas, is not voluntary. School boards also have no authority to spend the governor's bonuses in any other way. That lack of local control may gum up the works for Republicans who are paying attention. Senator Larry Rhoden (R-29/Union Center) says his conversations with local teachers have led him to believe the Governor's plan should be amended to allow school boards to use the additional money for other locally determined priorities. Senator Ried Holien (R-5/Watertown), a former teacher, agrees that school boards need more flexibility in this bill.

If we can't kill HB 1234 outright, let's hope Senators Rhoden and Holien can at least work such amendments, so school boards can spend this additional money on policies that will actually work.


Support Your Local Blogger!

  • Click the Tip Jar to send your donation to the Madville Times via PayPal, and support local alternative news and commentary!

South Dakota Political Blogs

Greater SD Blogosphere

SD Mostly Political Mix

Greater SD Blogosphere

  • SleuthSayers
    Themed and Tailored:  No, I'm not talking about fall outfits. My question is, How open are you to being prompted, guided, or otherwise steered, in determining what you write about?A little background, first. As I…

  • Rant-a-Bit by Scott Hudson
    The Ledge #449: Halloween: The Halloween episode has been an important part of The Ledge calendar year for over a decade. Outside of maybe one or two years, there has always been a show during the week before the great holiday…

  • LivingNonviolence
    : Dear Representative Johnson,I appreciated the sentiment in your July 24 newsletter about how "Politicians Are People, Too." Although I don't blame the hyper-partisan divide in Washingto…

  • Idle Hands Dep't
    Geography Div (California subsection):  Good question: Where is Northern California?What with all the fires this year there may not be a California soon !!…

  • Mark Haugen
    Novel notes:  I recently finished Robert Crais' "The Two Minute Rule." It was okay, but not a knockout.I've read a couple others by Crais and they're kind of in the same boat, okay but not…

  • The Poetry of Barry G. Wick
    Election limerick:  (((go figure, I'm on a limerick kick)))This isn't a simple electionFor two men who can't get erectionThere are those blue pillsScaring women in villesJust one's poll goes up in di…

  • Native Hope Blog
    September Hope Report: All relatives living on Unci Maka (Grandmother Earth) continue to endure the effects of COVID-19. On reservations, many do so on slim resources. We continue to assist those in need with groceries, cle…

  • Teaching and Inspiring Math Educators (TIME)
    A New Normal:  Before the fall semester began, I was very apprehensive about how it would go. I was worried about contracting COVID-19 and how that would affect my family. I was dreading wearing a mask, having to u…

  • A Teacher's Writes
    What is interesting? A podcast episode for my students: Today I extended my classroom podcast project by interviewing Austin Lammers, who spoke to my students about the question, “What is interesting?” I thought the conversation was worthwhile and that Aus…

  • Notes from a Western Life
    Book Remarks: Mystic Travelers by Gail Crane: With Mystic Travelers: Images from the Edge, the reader receives not only a book but an invitation to join these two Mystic travelers on adventures to the edge of the world we know through Facebook an…

Madville Monthly