Find $75 million in revenue to raise South Dakota teacher pay at least $8,000, from 51st to 39th in the nation—that’s the crux of the plan the Blue Ribbon Task Force on Teachers and Students gave us this month.
It took 26 task force members seven months of public listening sessions and five formal meetings to come up with that plan.
It took Lennox High School librarian and debate coach Michael Larson one blog post in June to come up with the same proposal…
I think a majority of people would look at it from a level of being in the 70% of the US national average and be closer to all of our neighbors like Nebraska, Iowa, or North Dakota. South Dakota’s average salary was about $40,000 compared to our nearest neighbor of North Dakota at $48,600 and Nebraska at $49,500. Those states are at a level of 85% and 86.5% respectively of the national average. That would mean increasing funding just for teacher’s salaries by an average of $8,000 at least. That means increasing around $73 million [Michael Larson, “Humble Proposal for Finding Additional Funds for Education,” Taking a Left Turn in South Dakota, 2015.06.14.
…with even more funding detail, $12.7 million in budget cuts to other less productive state agencies.
And Larson didn’t even get an invite, much less a per diem, to make a presentation to the Blue Ribbon panel the way cooperative administrators Dan Guericke and Julie Mathiesen and consultant Richard Ingersoll did to present on ideas that bear only indirectly on teacher pay.
It just goes to show that if you put regular K-12 instructional staff in charge of a project, you’ll get things done much faster than legislators and consultants.