Tech Schools for South Dakota announces that Governor Dennis Daugaard will be joining them to launch their public campaign for Amendment R, the vo-tech governance measure placed on our ballot by our Legislature. According to the ballot question committee’s press release, the Governor and other Amendment R supporters will hold a press conference at 4 p.m. Tuesday, June 28* at Southeast Tech.
Remember that Amendment R, approved last year by the Legislature in House Joint Resolution 1003, doesn’t actually change who runs our vo-techs. It only clarifies that the Board of Regents doesn’t get to run them. Amendment R then affirms that the Legislature gets to decide who runs the vo-techs. Right now, the school boards in Sioux Falls, Watertown, Mitchell, and Rapid City run their local vo-techs. The intent of the vo-techs and their business pals appears to be to get the Legislature to create a new vo-tech governing board separate from the Regents and the K-12 system.
It occurs to me that conservatives should hate this plan: one more state bureaucracy? Maybe Democrats should, too: one more board not elected by the people? We don’t know that the governance system allowed by Amendment R would look like the Regents, run by gubernatorial appointees. A background document distributed by Lake Area Vo-Tech (hold that thought!) assert that Amendment R supporters have “no plans to chance the local administrative control” and may only split the state’s vo-tech oversight from K-12 education with a volunteer board, but the new RforJobs.org website advocating for Amendment R suggests supporters want the vo-techs run by the business lobby, not by the “awkward governance structure” of locally elected school boards that apparently limits the vo-techs’ “ability to respond to business demands.”
Whatever governance structure they have in mind, Amendment R’s backers are sure a Yes vote will make everything come up roses:
- Employers will have an easier time finding specialized workers with the right skillset.
- More students will have access to programs that bring them immediate employment.
- Technical institutes and career education programs will have direct access to government decision-makers for support and funding.
- Amendment R improves communication and support among the career and technical education schools and their governing body.
- As workers fill positions that would otherwise have remained empty, South Dakota’s economy grows [Tech Schools for South Dakota, RforJobs.org, downloaded 2016.06.21].
I still lean Yes on R, but I’m eager to hear from the Governor exactly what sort of governance he envisions arising from R and how that governance will directly alleviate South Dakota’s worker shortage better than a market-based solution like, oh, say, raising wages.
Release that thought: Bonus Campaign Finance Note! The vo-techs want whatever Amendment R will bring. Lake Area advocates for Amendment R on its official website, complete with campaign fundraising letter for the ballot question committee, background, and talking points.
Lake Area expends public funds to maintain its website. SDCL 12-27-20 prohibits the expenditure of public funds to influence election outcomes. This statute does not prohibit public bodies from “presenting factual information solely for the purpose of educating the voters on a ballot question,” but it does make clear that public institutions may not advocate a Yes vote and urge readers to “Show your support now and join the hundreds of other supporters by completing the letter of support or making a donation to Tech Schools for South Dakota.”
*Correction 07:53 CDT: I originally reported the wrong date for the press conference. Governor Daugaard speaks at Southeast on Amendment R on Tuesday, June 28, not today. I regret the error and any unnecessarily rescheduled tea times.