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Recession, Daugaard Austerity Cut Teacher Ranks

Elise Gould of the Economic Policy Institute offers some national teacher job numbers that show that public layoffs in response to the recession have left the U.S. with just about 5% fewer public education jobs than we should have to maintain the staff–student ratio we had seven years ago.

Screen Shot 2015-10-07 at 6.56.03Boy, Rep. Greenfield, if schools in other states get serious about closing that gap, South Dakota is going to have to compete even harder to recruit teachers from the national pool.

South Dakota’s teacher pool is also falling behind increasing student enrollment. Consider our student enrollment and teaching staff numbers statewide, as presented to the Blue Ribbon K-12 panel by the Department of Education last month:

School Year K-12 Enrollment Certified Instructional Staff Student-Teacher Ratio
2005 121,327 8,851 13.7
2006 120,682 9,065 13.3
2007 120,277 8,934 13.5
2008 121,089 8,958 13.5
2009 121,015 9,003 13.4
2010 122,055 9,101 13.4
2011 123629 9,159 13.5
2012 124739 8,941 14.0
2013 126759 9,039 14.0
2014 128294 9,208 13.9
2015 129,772 9,362 13.9
2016 131,515 9,394 14.0
2017 133,572 9,541 14.0
2018 135,457 9,676 14.0
2019 137,447 9,818 14.0

[2015 estimated; 2016–2019 projected]

Prior to the Daugaard austerity, South Dakota’s teacher–student ratio was hovering around 13.5. Governor Daugaard’s FY2012 budget cuts led to the loss of over 200 full-time equivalents in K-12 teaching. Factor in increased enrollment in FY2012, and Daugaard’s cuts caused the teacher–student ratio to jump to 14.0. The DOE projects that just maintaining that new normal (remember, Governor Daugaard likes what he’s done to K-12 education and wants things to stay that way) would require South Dakota to increase its K-12 teaching corps by 4.9%, 456 new teachers, from last year’s total by FY2019.

But if we wanted to get back to the more manageable 13.5 teacher–student ratio to which Governor Rounds led us, we would need 365 teachers on top of that increase, 820 new teachers total, a workforce increase of 8.8%

Remember, every additional certified teacher in your school is an additional caring adult who can help your kids figure out algebra or belt sanders or their college plans. Providing our kids the best educational opportunities means undoing Governor Daugaard’s damage and recruiting those teachers.


  1. MC 2015-10-07

    If parents are that concerned, they can always home school their children.

  2. Dave 2015-10-07

    Brilliant, MC. I’ll just quit my job and stay home to teach my kids. Of course, I’ll soon default on my mortgage. Where can I home school my kids after I no longer have a home?

  3. Porter Lansing 2015-10-07

    ATTN Governor and SoDak voters. The recession is over. Gas prices are rock bottom. The economy is booming (nearly everywhere Democrats are leading their states … and Texas). Austerity was a necessary period in history but it’s time to RAISE TAXES on the WEALTHY and get South Dakota semi-caught up with USA. Start with teachers, huh.

  4. Deb Geelsdottir 2015-10-07

    Daugard Austerity is a major job killer. I wonder where else he cut a hole in employment? Even when he didn’t literally kill existing jobs, he put a vise on employment growth.

  5. caheidelberger Post author | 2015-10-07

    What Dave said, MC. Homeschooling is great. I wish more parents had the means to do it. But the vast majority of South Dakota families (top in the nation for both parents working) lack the time and money to make that happen.

    And the state should never take the position that starving K-12 education is o.k. because it may spur more parents to do homeschool. That’s the Koch/privatization plot. The state’s position should be that it will provide the resources to ensure that every student in South Dakota can come get a free, fair, and awesome education, and that parents who want to homeschool are welcome to try it but will be missing out on the best education in South Dakota.

  6. MC 2015-10-08

    Home schooling has it own rewards.

    During my son’s last year, I worked with the school to continue his education while he was in and out of the hospital. The school provided us with text books materials and some cases his teacher came to our house/hospital room to help. We did this for two reasons.
    1) To keep up on his education. Kids who spend an extended time away from school, struggle to get caught with the rest of the class. in this case home schooling mirrored the school curriculum.
    2) Anyone who has spent an extended time in a hospital, knows how exciting it can be (not). Having school work gives him something to do while we wait.

    We were lucky, the school (Tri-Valley) stepped up to plate, when we needed them to.

    Homeschooling can work, if the parents are committed, and they work with the school.

  7. Spike 2015-10-08

    Somebody help me out….a friend of mines son was in pulic school in rapid city last 2 years. 4th and 5th grade. He had 26 kids in his class both years! That’s quite a distance from state average of 14. I met the wonderful teachers. They were just great and committed. But I could tell they were seriously overwhelmed by the numbers.

    That’s a lot of children in one classroom.

  8. MJL 2015-10-08

    Spike: The numbers being a state-wide average also consider special education teachers and other specialists in the classroom (if I remember correctly). I also considers schools that may only have 8 students in the entire grade. I think we average around 23-24 students in the elementary class.

    MC- What you experienced was not necessarily homeschooling, but the school maintaining the student through tutoring. That was great of the school, but in my opinion it was also an obligation. It would be different if you pulled the student off the enrollment books and did it by yourself or used the k-12 website for homeschooling.

  9. leslie 2015-10-08

    kind of nice the teacher that came to your home did that. must have been a good hearted person. wonder if payment was made? stipend?

  10. caheidelberger Post author | 2015-10-08

    MJL and Spike, in the Aberdeen classrooms I’ve subbed in, 30+ seems to be the norm at Central HS. ~25 at Simmons MS.

Comments are closed.