October 14: Eager reader Rorschach reacts to Melody Schopp’s retirement by asking, “In the game of musical chairs, which Pierre bureaucrat/GOP Party functionary will get her chair next?”
Today Superintendent Kirkegaard got the nod from Governor Dennis Daugaard. The Meade County Superintendent, who responded swiftly and admirably to an embarrassing outbreak of racist behavior from Sturgis students during homecoming just a day before Schopp’s announced her retirement, takes Schopp’s job on January 1, 2018.
Aside from sharing a syllable with our Governor, Kirkegaard brings a few other qualifications to the job:
Kirkegaard has been superintendent in Meade County since 2011. Prior to that, Kirkegaard was a social studies teacher and principal in Bristol, and then a principal and superintendent in Britton. He earned his bachelor’s degree from South Dakota State University, his master’s degree from Northern State University, and his specialist’s degree from the University of South Dakota. Kirkegaard is a native of Trent and a graduate of Flandreau High School.
“I am excited about the opportunity to serve as the South Dakota Secretary of Education. I have more than 30 years in K-12 education and I will try to use my practitioner perspective as South Dakota continues to move education forward,” said Kirkegaard. “My goal will be to work with the Department so that we can continue to offer a wide variety of opportunities for all students in South Dakota.
Kirkegaard has been a member of the State Board of Education Standards since 2006, and currently serves as its chair. The board sets standards and requirements for school accreditation and for teacher preparation and certification, and content standards for elementary and secondary schools.
He is also a member of the executive board of the School Administrators of South Dakota [Governor’s Office, press release, 2017.11.06].
Note that word practitioner. Schopp had been in Pierre in the Department of Education full-time for 11 years before taking over as Secretary. Kirkegaard goes to the big chair straight from a school district. He thus takes the big chair in Pierre with the day-to-day concerns of running a school district still fresh in his mind. Let’s hope that brings a greater desire to work for all the schools than to protect Pierre cronies.