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Blue Ribbon K-12 Solution: Look at Kansas, Do the Opposite

Governor Daugaard’s Blue Ribbon K-12 panel holds its second meeting on Wednesday, August 19, in Pierre. I’m not sure what they have left to talk about, since it is abundantly clear that South Dakota must raise teacher pay to combat its growing teacher shortage. Arizona recognizes that… and now Kansas is doing the exact opposite to prove the point and show South Dakota what not to do. Teacher pay in Kansas is several thousand dollars more than in South Dakota, but that still places Kansas closer to the bottom than the top. According to Valerie Strauss, Governor Sam Brownback’s government has cut funding for public schools, cut teachers’ labor rights, and adopted ALEC-crafted legislation to allow school districts to hire unlicensed teachers.

Those policies are a recipe for a self-inflicted teacher shortage. Teacher-blogger Peter Greene explains the policy outcomes this way:

Kansas has entered the Chase Teachers Out of The State derby, joining states like North Carolina and Arizona in the attempt to make teaching unappealing as a career and untenable as a way for grown-ups to support a family. Kansas favors the two-pronged technique. With one prong, you strip teachers of job protections and bargaining rights, so that you can fire them at any time for any reason and pay them as little as you like. With the other prong, you strip funding from schools, so that teachers have to accomplish more and more on a budget of $1.95 (and if they can’t get it done, see prong number one).

The result is predictable. Kansas is solidly settled onto the list of Places Teachers Work As Their Very Last Choice.It’s working out great for Missouri; their school districts have teacher recruitment billboards up in Kansas. But in Kansas, there’s a teacher shortage [Peter Greene, “Kansas: Digging a Deeper Hole,” Curmudgucation, 2015.07.29].

Blue Ribboneers, keep gathering all the evidence you want. But the solution to South Dakota’s teacher shortage is right in front of you: look at what Kansas is doing, then do the opposite.


  1. Rorschach 2015-08-03 08:52

    Why stop at K-12? Look at everything Kansas does and do the opposite.

  2. Nick Nemec 2015-08-03 08:57

    South Dakota will do nothing or next to nothing. The Blue Ribbon Task Force is a stalling tactic so the governor can say he’s doing something. I expect a list of “solutions” that don’t address the problem (low teacher pay forces people to look to other states or other career choices). Teacher pay will remain dead last and teachers will continue to leave, or never enter the profession.

  3. bearcreekbat 2015-08-03 11:03

    Wow, it looks to me like Greene was actually writing about South Dakota, but substituted the term “Kansas” for “South Dakota.”

  4. Jackilope 2015-08-03 12:41

    Like every GOP Gov., the task force is a smokescreen to dupe educators and citizens concerned about education. The real Playbook is what ALEC and Chuckie and Davey Koch have all set and prewritten and given during their wining and dining getaways for Legislature. Basically, it is starve education, get educators with degrees out and privatize and make a profit. The GOP Governors and ALEC lackies don’t one rat’s tail end about actual education. That is evident by the horrific rewriting of history and omission of climate crisis in TX textbook writing. It is about $$$$$$$. They don’t care about the mess left behind as long as they and their insiders have made the bucks and profit.

  5. paul harens 2015-08-03 17:58

    I have to get into the conversation. SD is sinking lower and lower. The Gov’s committee doesn’t fool anyone, especially teachers. How many times have we seen this? How many more teachers will leave the state? How many will take early retirement and get the hell out. Some of us could see the writing on the wall. A teacher is no longer allowed to be real teacher (and a few don’t want to be). All the forms to follow, content standards to include, evaluation form to follow, and more meetings to attend. When will people, school boards, and administrators learn?

  6. Douglas Wiken 2015-08-03 19:47

    Commissions like this make certain they never hear anybody with any ideas that have not already been discredited by reality 20 years ago.

  7. caheidelberger Post author | 2015-08-03 20:04

    Paul, I gotta believe they’re going to learn in 2016. They’re going to see the proposals brought forth by the Blue Ribbon panel. They’re going to see whether the Legislature takes those proposals seriously and does anything to address the teacher shortage and teacher pay. And if the Legislature fails to act, voters will finally have had enough and will vote the turkeys out in November 2016 and replace them with candidates who are fed up with the status quo and bring voters along.

    I gotta believe. This can’t go on, can it?

  8. Donald Pay 2015-08-03 21:28

    Oh, Cory, you have no idea how many incentives the politicians in South Dakota have to stick their heads in the sand and do absolutely nothing. When the money boys tell them there’s nothing to see here, they just turn around and start walking away, even when they admit the problem is real.

    It’s really up to the money boys. They say they care about education, but, really, they don’t care enough to be taxed fairly so that children can learn. Yes, they might get behind a tax that doesn’t really tax them fairly (increased sales tax) But, no, if it means taxing the money boys fairly, I think it can go on for a long time. If, by some miracle, the facts are so transparently obvious to them that they have an epiphany, then, maybe something can get done. Don’t count on it.

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