The Blue Ribbon Task Force on Teachers and Students holds its penultimate meeting tomorrow in Pierre at the View 34 golf-course restaurant. The focus of this meeting, according to the agenda, will be money, with state officials Tami Darnall, Jim Terwilliger, Andy Gerlach, and Mike Houdyshell talking about funding models and revenue options. The panel will also discuss “Efficiency and Outcomes Possibilities” and “teacher Recruitment/Retention” before breaking into small groups in the afternoon. By the end of the day, the panel aspires to “Discussion, Recommendations, and Next Steps.”
I should be bothered by the optics of holding a public meeting at a fancy restaurant next to a golf course. But maybe as the Blue Ribboneers gaze out the windows at Pierre’s leisure class enjoying their expensive ball-chasing (Thursday’s weather: 70°F, partly sunny, windy), they’ll think about the wealth this state has available to raise teacher salaries. They’ll think about the teachers who are in their classrooms (except for the two K-12 teachers who serve with the 24 non-teachers on this panel deciding the fate of our state K-12 funding policy) earning the lowest salaries in the nation for the thirtieth year in a row. And maybe, just maybe, the Blue Ribboneers will put two and two together and realize they need to redistribute some wealth to support the teachers who make it possible for everyone in this state to acquire wealth.
Or maybe they’ll just have the steak for lunch and make teachers beg for scraps.