Greenfield on Teacher Shortage: “We Can Not Attract People Who Do Not Exist”

KELO-TV repeats (with reminders from Rapid City, Sioux Falls, and Deuel) that the teacher shortage is real, which invites Rep. Lana Greenfield (R-2/Doland) and I to have this exchange:

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In repeating her argument that things are tough all over for education, Rep. Greenfield appears to represent an all-too-sizable faction of our Republican Legislature that is determined to blame the teacher shortage on anything other than the obvious: the lowest teacher pay in the nation, which is unable to keep up with student debt, the cost of living, and the pay professionals can get in other jobs in other places.

27 Responses to Greenfield on Teacher Shortage: “We Can Not Attract People Who Do Not Exist”

  1. Rep Lana Greenfield has no solutions? She just resigns herself to this is just the way it is?

    Wager options are still available on another thread. :)

  2. “Why teachers can’t hotfoot it out of Kansas fast enough”

    Meanwhile in another RED state. ^^^^

  3. My question to her Cory is, “should South Dakota just sit back and do nothing?”

    What’s really sad is she is a former teacher. She should know better.
    I believe the people are out there who want to teach. But they look at what their school debt will be when they graduate and they realize 2 things. 1-if they going into teaching and stay in South Dakota they’ll never pay that debt off or go to a better paying state. 2-They’ll have to go into a different career.

    Most people going into teaching know that they won’t get rich being a teacher-especially in South Dakota. But now the pay has gotten so bad and the debt so high they have to go elsewhere or pick a different profession.

  4. “Kansas Underfunded Education And Cut Tenure. Now It Can’t Find Enough Teachers To Fill Classrooms”

    Look familiar? Instead our legislators promote supporting home schooling and private schools at the expense of the shared public investment of a public education.

  5. Do Republicans EVER offer solutions, or just talking points and criticism?

  6. Loren, the most important thing Republicans do is collect government money for doing nothing.

  7. In part of SD, there is an individual with a music background with no teaching degree. She has spent the past 10+ years bouncing from school district to school district getting hired to teach music under an authority to act type situation. The job offer comes with a requirement that she make satisfactory progress towards a teaching degree. She stays for two years, doesn’t make progress, and is not offered a new contract. From there, she goes either to another school district in need or works as a long term substitute until another school district is willing to hire her. She has repeated this multiple times and was recently hired on for the second time at one school district because there were no other options.
    She may be the most glaring example of the poor state of education in South Dakota.
    We are doing a disservice by allowing individuals like that to continue to play the system.

  8. mike from iowa

    The biggest hurdle for education across America is WINGNUT POLITICIANS.

  9. rollin potter

    I find it quite interesting that of the complaining about low wages I still see a minimum of eight retired teachers going by my driveway 4 or 5 times a week pulling a twenty to $30,000 boat with a $30000 to $40,000 truck headed for the OL’ fishing hole and they are all under 60 years old!!!!!

  10. My guess Rollin they have spouses that make a very good living.

    So are you saying teachers live high on the hog?

  11. Rollin,

    A number of teachers I’ve known left teaching after living like paupers and passed their series 7 exam and became investment brokers, sold insurance or real estate and did fairly well. Their spouses did well also but it depends also where they live and what opportunities there are in that area!!!!!!!!!!!

  12. Cory, you and Rep. Greenfield are talking around each other without understanding each other. What Rep. Greenfield means when she says “we can not attract people who do not exist” is that if we ban abortion, then there will be more people willing to work for substandard wages teaching in SD. Your solution is to raise wages. Her solution is to ban abortion.

  13. I have been frustrated with Greenfield when it comes to education funding and teacher pay since an article quoting her on the front page of the Aberdeen American News this past fall. She basically said teachers in SD don’t teach for the money, trying to downplay the importance of teacher pay and SD’s low rank compared to other states. She should use her position in the legislature and her many years of experience as a veteran teacher to be a voice for education in SD; instead it’s as if she’s shrugging her shoulders and saying exactly what Gov. Daugaard wants to hear.

  14. Representative Greenfield’s thought is, respectfully, FOS. There were no people existing in western ND and eastern MT to do the oil field jobs — until the pay attracted and retained them. Why do apparent rhinos like Rep. Greenfield detest market, merit, and cost-benefit based solutions for education?!

  15. Greenfield is right on this one. There are not enough people to fill positions in many fields at this time. Education used to have 30 kids in a class, I was one of 32. Now we have smaller classes and less functionality in our graduats. Eduction has become a money pit

  16. A money pit? That explains the hallways of gold, the chalkboard of ivory, and all those teachers wearing diamond rings and Armani suits! Ha ha ha! Ho ho ho!

    Sam2, Greenfield’s statement and your response to it are absolutely the opposite of correct. The people exist; they’re just taking other jobs that pay better. The proper response to a lack of workers entering a vital field is not to let pay fall farther behind. The proper and necessary response is to make the field worth entering.

  17. Mr. Potter, those retired teachers were probably some of the best ones who earned more or are perhaps as it was suggested married into a high earner relationship. A lot of their spouses could be school administrators or some other fat cat occupation.

  18. David Newquist

    “In a stark about-face from just a few years ago, school districts have gone from handing out pink slips to scrambling to hire teachers.”

    The situation that has produced the teacher shortage goes back a few decades. We reached a point in the early 1990s at NSU where a number of our top students in our teacher education program decided not to teach after their student teaching experience. This caused some consternation among the superintendents and principals because they thought it reflected on their districts and schools. They, of course, were right. These very bright teacher candidates were confronted in their student teaching that they would not be able to find a way utilize their knowledge and interest in their disciplines and that they would never be paid or acknowledged commensurate with their talents and efforts. Some of us who advised these students were severely chided because we told them to develop their talents and not get locked into the kind of servile and demeaned status that so many people in the public, such as Sam2, assign them to. He provides evidence that there is a lack of functionality in the “eduction” received by some “graduats.” In South Dakota, the low pay is an expression of the low respect and the low intelligence that forms the atmosphere in which teachers will work. It will much more than money to make teaching a viable profession again. Greenfield is right that you find people to go into a profession that doesn’t exist.

  19. Perhaps the market issue lies in Minnesota and not South Dakota. Perhaps, and Mr. Obama may well be the fellow to do just this, we need Federal regulation of teaching salaries to set them to the going rate based on days worked. That is what Mr. PP or some people talking with him think.

  20. larry kurtz

    PP’s people are imbeciles of biblical proportions.

  21. I’m glad David points out that New York Times article. It shows that factually, Rep. Greenfield is correct: schools are short on good teachers all over. Schools laid teachers off when the recession hit, and those teachers quite sensibly looked for other options, and many found better options, jobs where they didn’t have to put up with low pay and low respect.

    Rep. Greenfield spends a lot of time talking about that initial fact—not enough teachers anywhere—but far less, if any, time talking about doing something about that fact. David makes the action obvious: we have to raise pay and raise respect for teachers to draw qualified people back into the jobs we need filled.

  22. Here’s another report that affirms Greenfield’s initial fact but then tells us why we’re short on teachers and thus suggests what we could do to recruit more teachers:

    The most recent data from the U.S. Department of Education have in fact shown significant drops in teacher-education enrollment in many states, including in large states like Texas, New York, and California. Many experts chalk up such declines, as well as regional teacher shortages, to the Great Recession and ensuing cutbacks in public spending. Others have charged that poor teacher working conditions, such as low salaries and test-driven school cultures, are nudging existing and potential educators toward other professions, especially with the economy improving.

    “Morale is low because not only salaries are low, but there’s a feeling [among educators] that ‘we have to hold all the teachers accountable because they don’t know what they’re doing,'” said Cecilia Johnson, an associate superintendent for the Arizona department of education. “They want to be valued more” [Ross Brenneman, “Teacher Shortages Often Plague Places That Need Them Most,” Tribune News Service via Governing, 2015.08.10].

    All the accountability talk that our friend Troy Jones, our Governor, and other Republicans give us (that’s the “boldness” that Rep. Sly may be expecting from us teachers) sends teachers the message that they can’t be trusted to act like professionals and do their job. And the accountability measures peddled so far (especialy standardized tests) strike us as so far removed from what actually matters in the classroom that we get more demoralized. It doesn’t sound good politically, but if we want more teachers to enter the field, we have to get rid of a lot of the accountability measures that we have imposed on the profession. We may need to replace them with better metrics (although our friend O will say we’ve already done that), but we can show the most respect right now by saying teachers are worth $10K more each year.

  23. David Newquist

    Here is another case that illustrates the attitudes toward and treatment of teachers.

    Back when I covered school board meetings for a newspaper, many communities passed insult-and-abuse laws to protect teachers from threatening interruptions and interference by irate and out-of-control citizens. I cannot find any such laws still on the books. One case in Aberdeen involved a teacher who was fired for allegedly abusing a student. The teachers’ union pushed for due process up to the point where the matter went to court. After gathering student testimony, the court found that the student was out of control and the teacher physically restrained him to protect the other students. It was not until the case went to court that administrators and other city officials bothered to gather information and evidence about the incident.

  24. Oh, goody: now Pat Powers is picking up the Greenfield dodge and saying that NYT article “flies in the face of what some would have you believe about South Dakota.” Notice Pat’s vague rhetorical strategy, failing to identify either the specific statements about South Dakota K-12 funding that he wants his dwindling readers to believe or the specific people making those statements whom he wants his readers to believe are in error. (I’d ask him to clarify, but of course, he hasn’t published a comment from me on his blog for years, and he declines to engage in constructive conversation in this comment section.)

    The NYT article, the WaPo article David adds, and the Kansas info from Lynn don’t refute the existence of a teacher shortage in South Dakota or the causes we have identified. If anything, they reinforce the fact that we have a problem and that we must address it by increasing teacher pay (and teacher respect).

  25. That’s a good article, David. “Better pay is a must,” says Bruni. Right next to pay: more autonomy for teachers.