Education Majors: Scholarships Don’t Make up for South Dakota’s Low Teacher Pay

KELO-TV gets some SDSU education majors to say what I’ve been saying all along: all the scholarships and incentives the state has tried to cobble together aren’t enough to get young teachers to stay in South Dakota.

[SDSU education major Lori] Foltz and her classmates were given the survey, Examining the Teacher Pipeline in South Dakota, as an assignment. It found the biggest reason why future teachers do not want to stay here comes down to money.

…”If you ask any teacher what the problem is, they will tell you what the problem is. They know what the problem is. The schools know what the problem is. Everyone else is like, ‘What’s the problem? Why can’t we keep teachers? I don’t understand,'” Rose Fairfax, education major, said [Brady Mallory, “Why Future Teachers Say They Leave South Dakota,”, 2015.04.10].

Blue Ribbon Task Force on Teachers and Students, are you listening?

Foltz is doing the math on the new teacher scholarships that the state created in 2013, and she’s coming up with the same answer I did:

There are incentives to stay, including the Dakota Corps Scholarship. Foltz currently receives the scholarship, and it pays for her tuition if she promises to teach in the state for a set number of years. She is thinking about giving it back, and taking on a student loan and moving away after graduation.

“Ended up finding out that after about three years of paying off the loan, it equals out almost the same amount of money I’d make in South Dakota. And then obviously after those three years, I’m going to make more money because there you can get better pay,” Foltz said [Mallory, 2015.04.10].

Remember, the Critical Needs Teaching Scholarship requires recipients to stay in South Dakota for five years.

The survey Mallory cites (but does not link or post so we can see for ourselves—grrr!) says that 60% of junior and senior elementary and secondary education majors at SDSU don’t plan to teach in South Dakota, and another 20% are undecided.

54 Responses to Education Majors: Scholarships Don’t Make up for South Dakota’s Low Teacher Pay

  1. Roger Elgersma

    If you believe in a public school system and freedom for Americans to have the chance to succeed, then you make tuition affordable. If you like to think of yourself as dictator and want the peons to worship you, then you give scholarships to everyone rather than just award them to those who have had exemplary academic records. This is just a basic philosophy difference.

  2. Fred Deutsch

    Can you answer an important question? Do South Dakota education majors leave our state at a higher rate than education majors in the other states? One of the many talking points dealing with South Dakota’s leaky education pipeline is that our teacher shortage is no different than the teacher shortage every state is experiencing, including states that pay top-dollar. A post providing comparative data for teacher vacancy rates in the 50 states would be a very interesting and helpful read.

  3. Rep Deutsch asks an important question. Perhaps the ‘Blue Ribbon’ group can help us get to the bottom of that issue (and others). After all, we’re accustomed to life at the bottom.

  4. mike from iowa

    Here is an article from last November(Soo City Journal) with a SD teacher survey from 2014 with some interesting stuff in it about filling teaching positions and vacancies.

  5. Rose Fairfax says:
    >“If you ask any teacher what the problem is, they will tell you [that money is] what the problem is.”

    I’m aware that I’m a libertarian guest commenting on a progressive blog, but I’d like to point out that not “any teacher” will say money is the problem.

    From my perspective the bigger problem is that people with souls eventually get sick of being micromanaged. My experience has been that by the time I’ve finished jumping through useless hoops for department heads, principals, superintendents, school board members, state education officials and federal education officials, I’ve had little or no time or energy left for my students and their parents.

    None of this micromanagement ever seems to make bad teachers better. It only makes good teachers worse. If you want to waste my talents and abilities by making every detail of my daily lesson plans a product of external coercion, train a chimp. I’d rather take an even deeper pay cut and do something fulfilling.

  6. mike from iowa

    Micro-management in a depressingly red state,smaller gubmint state,deregulate everything state,personal free dumb,etc. state? Surely you jest,Kurt Evans. If wingnuts ever find out,someone is in serious breech of party protocol.

  7. Roger Elgersma

    Other states had scholarships before we did. So the scholarship is not all that much of a factor. It is just keeping up or even staying behind other states that have bigger scholarships.
    Mike had a plan for 2010. Did very little to get there and then his lieutenant gov followed him with big cuts. History says that Republicans are smooth advertisers of progress and do not get there. We can have all the blue ribbon task forces in the world but then we need to do more than just fool people that we are going to do something.

  8. tara volesky

    Kurt Evans hit the nail on the head.

  9. “Mike from iowa” wrote:
    >“Micro-management in a depressingly red state,smaller gubmint state,deregulate everything state,personal free dumb,etc. state? Surely you jest,Kurt Evans.”

    I’m definitely not jesting, and one unfortunate consequence is that an ever-growing percentage of the next generation’s role models at school are people content to become unthinking cogs in the bureaucratic machine.

    >“If wingnuts ever find out,someone is in serious breech of party protocol.”

    I’m not sure the Republican Party establishment has made a serious attempt to apply libertarian principles to education since President Reagan’s first term, when he was calling for the federal Department of Education to be abolished. Remember that this is the party of Bush-43 and “No Child Left Behind” (or as I nicknamed it, “No Teacher Left Alone”).

  10. Tara Volesky wrote:
    >“Kurt Evans hit the nail on the head.”

    Tara is right (ha ha). Thanks, Tara.

  11. Deb Geelsdottir

    Wow. Up to 80% of SD education grads leave to teach where pay is decent? That’s a huge problem, a massive issue for the state to address in a concrete manner. By that I mean, do something tangible, active, that produces a measurable difference. Not more studies. There is one answer:

    Raise Teacher Pay.

    I think Kurt’s issue is valid, but pay should be addressed first, followed closely by a change in teacher trust. That’s what the micromanagement thing is about. Trust teachers to develop course work that meets the needs of the students while addressing content successfully.

    The Republican attacks on public education have been so harmful to this nation. You’d think the oligarchs hate the USA.

  12. Deb, I want to see the study KELO is citing, because that seems like an awfully high number. But if it’s accurate, it’s a stunning indictment of how our state treats teachers compared to other states. Every person who testifies to the Blue Ribbon Task Force on Teachers and Students should open and close his/her testimony with those three words: “Raise Teacher Pay.” It’s that simple.

  13. bearcreekbat

    Micromanage and hire a chimp? Isn’t that the SD policy under our current elected leaders? After all chimps work for peanuts – or is that elephants? I forget. . . .

  14. larry kurtz

    DFP is a progressive blog like SDWC is journalism.

    South Dakota is a hole where education is cheap and graduates leave: it’s just that simple.

  15. mike from iowa

    The answer is to close the borders so graduates are forced to stay. How much border can SD have? Less than between the US of A and Deep South Texas I’m guessing. (more snark for those who missed it in my last comment)

  16. larry kurtz

    South Dakota’s descent is no accident: it has been engineered to drive young, smart progressive thinkers away while retaining compliant earth haters who breed like rabbits.

  17. larry kurtz

    Brutal winters, oppressive law enforcement, intolerance for progressive lifestyles, shitty wages, apartheid…should i go on?

  18. Richard Schriever

    Kurt Evans – the word “compensation” is MEANINGFUL in this discussion. It is the notion that in exchange for exerting ones efforts toward the improvement of someone else’s lot in life, at the expense of spending time improving one’s own life situation, one is compensated – or “made whole” vs. left standing short. “Putting up with” being micromanaged and so on can be COMPENSATED for. There may be a number of means that that compensation occurs – but the most commonly understood one is via a SALARY, with which one can do as one wishes. Not everything fits neatly into some philosophical approach to understanding human interaction. Sometimes it’s best to just look at things through the raw lens of the fruits of one’s labors.

  19. I was having an interesting visit with someone who has been a substitute teacher. Her biggest complaint was that most teachers do not provide enough information as to what the substitute is suppose to do, especially teachers who are taking planned day off.

    This person has no sympathy for teachers.

  20. tara volesky

    100% of the teacher will agree with Kurt Evans, they just can’t speak out and tell you how they really feel for fear of losing their jobs. So, many creative, engaging, passionate teachers are finding other employment where they are valued and paid a living wage.

  21. Boy, Rep. Deutsch, we’re going to keep digging for excuses that say South Dakota doesn’t really have a unique problem, a uniquely bad economy, or a unique mindset for which we alone bear the blame, aren’t we? We sound a bit like my middle schoolers, who when discplined squeal about the bad things everyone else may be doing instead of focusing on governing and improving their own behavior.

    We can go to the US DOE and review the teacher shortage areas for every state:

    It looks like pretty much every state has applied for shortage status in various areas so new teachers can qualify for loan forgiveness programs. (Notice that the solution there is, again, money: leave more money in teachers’ pockets.)

    This December 2014 article says money isn’t the primary reason Oklahoma teachers leave the profession; instead, it’s stress, disrespect for the teaching profession, and the bureaucratic scramble to meet state-mandated standards (Rep. Deutsch, cross-reference my testimony to your House Education committee, February 18, 2015):

    Other examples, folks?

  22. I agree with Kurt’s comment about souls and micromanagement. It fits with comments made in the Oklahoma article I link in the previous comment. The best teachers are artists as well as scientists. They grasp holistically what needs to happen in the classroom, what they need to create (atmosphere, conversation, attitude, learning artifacts). Constantly interrupting them with external demands (administrivia, Common Core discussions, etc.) hinders their productivity as surely as people calling me every five minutes while I’m trying to write blog posts or as surely as visitors poking their heads in a painter’s studio every five minutes and asking for autographs or napkin doodles.

    But even that observation does not change the fact that money matters, and that more money will keep more people in the classroom. That’s what Richard is saying. Money is what we give workers to make up for the liberty, creativity, autonomy, and leisure we ask them to sacrifice.

  23. barry freed

    I think it telling that Teachers and Staff do not offer opinions publicly, nor are they asked. They may be low paid, but it is enough money in RC to keep them job scared and compliant.
    A custodian told me of RCAS not being able to hire a boiler tech for $12 per hour when techs were getting twice that in Wyoming and ND. They refused to consider raising the wage until they found someone. After a month or two with no success, they entered into a contract with Johnson Controls for $130,000 per year, plus charges for whenever they called for a tech. Sure enough, the next month I read the Public Notices and there it was: $11,000 to Johnson for “services” that first month. Without the back story of their decision making abilities, one reading the District’s expenditures in the paper would never know how they waste money.
    Give them the opt-out and they will do more of the same, open the books and we will find more wasted money for all, not just Teachers and Staff, but Taxpayers too.

  24. Barry, are we really going to find the solution in waste? Why would the RCAS not pay a higher wage for boiler techs?

  25. larry kurtz

    A statewide teacher walk-out would get some attention especially when there are no scabs to fill the void.

  26. Kurt: “I’m aware that I’m a libertarian guest commenting on a progressive blog, but I’d like to point out that not “any teacher” will say money is the problem.” As a teacher for more than 15 years, I can safely say that money is an issue. Is it the only issue? No, but it is a big issue that has gotten worse over time. I also think it is part of the bigger picture of respect for the field. When you hear things like, “it is okay to pay a teacher less because they don’t work that much and always have the summers off,” there is a demoralizing impact that compounds over time. When we try to shift the focus and say that there are other things that push some people away from teaching, then we justify not taking any action. That is what Pierre has been doing for a long time.

    Currently, I am working with a student teacher from a South Dakota school. He is from the Chicago suburbs area and interviewed for an English/ coaching position. He was offered a job for next year with a starting salary of $55,000. He does not have a masters. He is a good, young teacher that will grow and become stronger over time as he gains more experience. After hearing an offer like that, he said that there was no way that he could ever consider any job in South Dakota. He had to admit that this salary is a bit high for the area, but he said that around $45,000 was common for a starting teacher. Did he have any incentive to stay? No. That is one of the areas that we must begin addressing and not looking at other areas and say, “look, they have problems too, so lets not do anything.”

  27. You are never going to find the solution is waste – if you refuse to look. Doing the same thing and expecting a different result is madness; yet is exactly what the contractors, superintendents, executives, and school boards want us, the public, to do. I want a state public school system like those found in the first world (Singapore, Denmark, etc.), 250 contact days a year, esteemed professional teachers paid a living salary, etc. One begins to achieve that end state through a rigorous audit, casting out what’s unrelated to scholarly pursuits ($130k contract on-call boiler operators, extra-cirrucular distractions, etc.).

    Throwing money at our broken system reinforces failure. The system requires fundamental systemic change – then fund it.

  28. Don Coyote

    @Larry Kurtz: Public employee strikes in South Dakota are illegal.

  29. larry kurtz

    illegal, schmillegal.

    When you ain’t got nuthin’ you got nuthin’ to lose.

  30. larry kurtz

    Teachers are independent contractors, not public employees.

  31. Alternatively, one could reflect on the wisdom from the Isle of Fiasco as offered in Wiley’s, Non Sequitur, Tues Apr 7 through Sat Apr 11.

    Sooner or later the thing will implode or change as a result of the weight of its internal hypocrisy and contradictions.

  32. Don Coyote

    @John: In the Non-Sequitar comic strip Obviousman makes the false claim that the refund is taxable income for the new tax year. It’s not. That income was earned in the previous tax year and will be reflected in the individual’s tax calculations. As for the overpayment of taxes being an interest free loan, how is that even relevant in this day of interest rates measured in tenths of a percent?

  33. mike from iowa

    Hard not to throw money at education before you fix the fundamental flaws since the fundamental flaw in South Dakota is low teacher pay. See,it is called FUND amental because it takes funds to make it work. Quit screwing your kids on the cheap.

  34. mike from iowa

    ps if teachers did strike,have no fear. There doesn’t appear to be anyone in South Dakota gubmint capable of seeing a crime let alone investigating one. Pretty boy,pretty boy,Marty want a cracker?

  35. Is there waste in school budgets? I’m sure there is, but I’m also sure that every organization, whether it be public, private, for profit, or non-profit, has holes in its budget that can be worked on.

    Also, what is it that is so fundamentally broken about our public education system? Are you saying that students do not receive a quality education in our state anymore?

    I am a teacher myself, and I love my job. I couldn’t imagine enjoying doing anything else as much as I do working with my students, watching them grow and learn. I am fortunate that I can do this, since my wife makes nearly double what I do. If I were single, or a single parent, I would have to leave a career that I LOVE, and have to find WORK that would compensate me enough to not be reliant on welfare, Medicaid, etc.

    Teachers should be able to make a comfortable and livable wage in ANY state, including South Dakota. Whenever I hear from those that argue that the problem isn’t about money, I take that as a message that they don’t truly care or have respect for educating our children and supporting our teachers.

  36. @Don; read, comprehend. I wrote to look at the strip’s parable from Tues to Sat, not Sun.

  37. You know, my friend Lar may well have hit upon the solution to all this low pay whining for a chosen profession. He says that teachers are independent contractors. If true, this could be the saving grace for school district all, rich and poor, big and small, good and bad.

    I say school districts can give a 30% or 40% increase to these independent contracts. They pay for this by cancelling the employee insurance because nobody gives health insurance to contractors, stop paying the payroll taxes because independent contractors do that their own selfs, and for goodness sake stop paying retirement to these independent contractors.

    Mr. kurtz has solved the problem! Good job, Lar. Let us all move on now.

  38. larry kurtz

    “PRN” stands for “pro re nata,” or as needed. Nurses who sign on as independent contractors usually make around $40 an hour and hospitals or clinics who insist on more than 20 hours a week must pay their medical insurance under the Affordable Care Act.

  39. ya keep making smart ass jokes and pretty soon all those whining teachers will leave. Then South Dakota will be nothing but a huge retirement home.

  40. Don Coyote

    @ Larry Kurtz: According to the IRS definition of independent contractor it appears that most (if not all) teachers wouldn’t fall within those parameters.

    “You are not an independent contractor if you perform services that can be controlled by an employer (what will be done and how it will be done). This applies even if you are given freedom of action. What matters is that the employer has the legal right to control the details of how the services are performed.”

    Also I’m not aware of any teachers that make estimated quarterly income tax payments because of the source of their income.

  41. No, Mr. Coyote, I agree with Mr. kurtz. Teachers are independent contractors and as such should not be suckling off the public retirement teat. We need to kick them out of the public retirement system and take that money for the schools to build new stadiums and parking spaces for the fatcat administrators.

    Unfortunately I have deemed that the fatcat administrators are still employees and can keep their retirement.

  42. Check your Obamacare knowledge, Lar. I doubt your 20 hours makes much sense and they can offer insurance and make those independent contractors pay through the nose or go buy it elsewhere through the evil exchanges.

    Your idea may have just saved the schools, Mr. kurtz!!!

  43. larry kurtz

    grudzling: that you trolled me into a series of non sequiturs with the malnamed changes absolutely nothing.

  44. It does, Lar, and that’s what really gets your goat, init?

  45. larry kurtz

    New Mexico’s teachers are leaving in droves: it’s a GOP governor thing. Failure could indeed be the only way shit will get fixed.

  46. larry kurtz

    Northern trains teachers for North Dakota, BH trains teachers for Wyoming and southeastern Montana: how sustainable is that for the chemical toilet?

  47. larry kurtz

    Pierre attracts the lowest common denominator to serve: why would school districts be any different?

  48. larry kurtz

    South Dakota doesn’t want to swim, it just wants to float.

  49. GOP wants to have nothing but private schools and in that way only people who can afford an education can afford to get it.
    The rest can work the assembly line or become welders and make the fatcat CEOs even fatter

  50. Lon Moeller

    The SDSU study is currently being prepared for publication. I will send a copy as soon as it is released.

  51. tara volesky

    Yes Owen, that $16 million dollars that the Mitchell school board is spending on a new stand alone community FAC could have been better spent on upgrading and maintaining K-12 schools and adding on to some of their grade schools.