Blue Ribbon Education Task Force Favors Business Leaders over Public for Input

Last month the Governor’s office gave us the towns and dates for meetings of the Blue Ribbon Task Force on Teachers and Students (BluRTFTS). Now we get the exact locations… and the revelation that the business community in each town gets special meetings with this education task force:

June 2 2:00pm Educator Meeting Chamberlain – Cedar Shore Resort – Wheeler Room
June 2 4:00pm Business Community Meeting Chamberlain – Cedar Shore Resort – Wheeler Room
June 2 6:30pm Public Meeting Chamberlain – Cedar Shore Resort – Wheeler Room
June 3 2:00pm Educator Meeting Rapid City – Ramkota Hotel – Sylvan I & II
June 3 4:00pm Business Community Meeting Rapid City – Ramkota Hotel – Sylvan I & II
June 3 6:30pm Public Meeting Rapid City – Ramkota Hotel – Sylvan I & II
June 16 2:00pm Educator Meeting Sioux Falls – Ramkota Hotel – Jefferson Room
June 16 4:00pm Business Community Meeting Sioux Falls – Ramkota Hotel – Jefferson Room
June 16 6:30pm Public Meeting Sioux Falls – Ramkota Hotel – Jefferson Room
June 17 2:00pm Educator Meeting Yankton – YHS Commons
June 17 4:00pm Business Community Meeting Yankton – YHS Commons
June 17 6:30pm Public Meeting Yankton – YHS Commons
June 22 2:00pm Educator Meeting Watertown – Ramkota Hotel – Kampeska Hall
June 22 4:00pm Business Community Meeting Watertown – Ramkota Hotel – Kampeska Hall
June 22 6:30pm Public Meeting Watertown – Ramkota Hotel – Kampeska Hall
June 23 2:00pm Educator Meeting Aberdeen – Ramkota Hotel – Arikara Room
June 23 4:00pm Business Community Meeting Aberdeen – Ramkota Hotel – Arikara Room
June 23 6:30pm Public Meeting Aberdeen – Ramkota Hotel – Arikara Room

Educators get two hours with the task force. That makes sense. Business leaders get the same amount. That doesn’t quite make sense. The general public gets a half hour less. That makes the least sense.

I know that BluRTFTS has snuck a line about “workforce” into its mission statement, but does business really deserve a special seat at this table? Couldn’t we argue that parents deserve at least as much special attention? Or even the students themselves?

Business has a unique stake in education, but not an overriding stake, certainly not one as important the stake we all have in education for the sake of democracy and culture. The general public should get at least as much time as, if not more than, business leaders to express their views.


13 Responses to Blue Ribbon Education Task Force Favors Business Leaders over Public for Input

  1. larry kurtz

    Have a Koch and a smile.

  2. Richard Schriever

    When I asked Sen.Ernie Otten about the ideas of consolidating administrative functions at a legislative coffee, his response was “Everything is on the table”. I took that to include ideas like privatizing the education system. No surprise to me.

  3. larry kurtz

    “‘i’d like to buy the world.’- a koch”

  4. I might try to go to one of the public meetings. They might be fun to listen too-maybe.
    Hopefully people will show up

  5. Owen! You hit one down your way, I’ll hit the Aberdeen finale, and we’ll compare notes!

    Richard, yes, we need to be on the lookout for efforts to privatize the schools, reintroduce Daugaard’s HB 1234 from 2012, and other awful ideas. The SDGOP will do anything to get out of facing the music and raising teacher pay.

  6. Donald Pay

    It seems to me that the inevitable conclusion of the task force will have to be what everyone who has paid any attention to the issue over time already knows: to substantially increase state education funding. The data show the state is the deadbeat in the funding issue. There is no escaping that conclusion. Increasing state funding will require a tax increase and/or a new tax. You are going to have to have broad support from the business community to have a chance at that. So, inevitably, you have to listen to ideas from the business community to get their buy-in.

    I found the business community in Rapid City was very supportive of good schools, and helpful in many ways to education. I wouldn’t automatically criticize business leaders who participate in the task force. Whether they need special time at task force meetings or not is problematic, but if you want them to be part of the solution, I guess you provide them some time.

    One non-tax issue the task force might consider may be district consolidation, which could save some money in administrative costs. Most of the consolidation would have to come in East River, and I think it would be nearly politically impossible. The same goes for what the state seems to be angling at: too many teachers teaching too few students at some of the smaller schools. It was hard enough to close a couple small schools in Rapid City. Try doing that in a town that has only one school. It just isn’t politically feasible, and it’s not educationally the best thing either.

  7. The Blue Ribbon Task Force is a cover for the lack of courage and extreme apathy that the governor(s) and legislature have had towards education and will continue to have.

    Call schools a business and teachers economic development drivers and watch the money roll in!

    “Under the GOP, Business Rules” the new state motto.

  8. Donald, can we count on the business leaders statewide to support our argument that the solution to the teacher shortage is obvious? I wonder what business leaders will be invited to these special sessions.

  9. mike from iowa

    The koch bros have wingnuts singing in perfect harmony. Fully owned subsidiaries complete with knee pads.

  10. Cory: “Business has a unique stake in education, but not an overriding stake, certainly not one as important the stake we all have in education for the sake of democracy and culture.”

    Here is where I disagree to an extent with you. I think it is now important ti draw business into the discussion because it it time for business to face two things: 1) business benefits from a well-educated workforce and 2) as such, business needs to pick up more of the tab for the costs for that education. Education is training workers for SD business; SD business ought to be ready to increase its help to fund that boon. Taxing the tourists seems like a politically easy way to raise money, but it is not the tourists to SD that benefit from a strong education. Let us start looking to ask for the increase in funds from those who benefit.

    Jana is on the mark here: this is economic development for SD.

  11. PlanningStudent

    Anyone with a calculator knows we need more revenue if you want to spend more on education, the budget is too tight right meow. The best place to find new revenue would be to tax business because they enjoy the least amount of taxes and most benefits from an educated workforce. And if you’re about to tax someone, you should spend some extra time with them getting their buy in. That being said, this is the education task force, not the lets pay teachers more task force. Every state around who of course pay more than we do are also talking of teacher shortages.

  12. larry kurtz

    Anyone with a calculator knows South Dakota needs 40 fewer county seats and at least one less four-year regental university.

  13. Donald Pay

    Cory,

    No, you can’t count on all business leaders to support our arguments. Some will. Others will support more money going to education, but they will try every way possible to make someone else pay for it. My view has always been to institute an income tax to partially fund education. If I have my numbers right, the state would need to double the current state effort to match neighboring states’ effort.

    But I could see businesses helping in re-thinking the current education funding formula, which has nothing to do with education and represents a 1990s property tax reduction mechanism. It’s a top down approach to funding, and businesses are more used to a bottom up (customer first) effort to determine appropriate education for individual students.

    I could also see businesses providing input into the teacher pay issue. Back in the 1980s the state studied every position, compared tasks to what people who did those tasks in the private market received. Then gradually over several years the Legislature funded the effort to boost state employees’ salaries to match the market. It was, I think, well-received by state employees because it seemed fair. It would be far easier to do this with teaching positions.