In the No Hard Feelings Department, an eager reader notices an item in the January 14 Mid-Central Educational Cooperative minutes that escaped my attention in yesterday’s review:
Four months after yanking the multi-million-dollar GEAR UP contract from Mid-Central for three years of accounting incompetence, while state and federal law enforcement continue to investigate Mid-Central’s finances to sort out corruption that Governor Dennis Daugaard says reached a “ridiculous” level, Secretary of Education Melody Schopp hands Mid-Central another state contract to rewrite our language arts and reading standards.
Mid-Central is setting standards for South Dakota—perhaps we can use that sentence as a writing prompt for students learning about irony (see ELA Standard 11-12.RL.6: Analyze a case in which grasping point of view requires distinguishing what is directly stated in a text from what is really meant (e.g., satire, sarcasm, irony, or understatement).
Rewriting these curriculum standards (wait—we need new standards again? we adopted our current Common Core standards just six years ago!) is only a $4,200 contract, but with several South Dakota educational cooperatives who are not under investigation for corruption available to do the work, are taxpayers really ready to hand even that meager sum to MCEC exec Dan Guericke and interim business manager Stephanie Huber again?
Maybe Secretary Schopp is handing Mid-Central this small contract as training wheels. Maybe she is reassured that the fiscal incompetence is over; after all, right after the Mid-Central board approved the standards contract, it reaffirmed a memorandum of understanding with Wagner-based accounting firm Bechen and Company for fiscal services through June 30 for $800 a day plus travel. Amanda Bechen has been at each monthly Mid-Central meeting since October; over the last three months, Mid-Central has paid Bechen $14,157.50.
If they keep that up, Mid-Central’s going to need to rewrite a lot more standards.