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Schopp’s Legacy: Teacher Pay Raises Abandoned Less Than Two Years In

Education Secretary Melody Schopp sits down with Dana Ferguson for one more interview before she retires tomorrow from state government and says she hopes the 2016 teacher pay raise defines her career:

Melody Schopp remembers standing behind Gov. Dennis Daugaard as he signed into law a historic pay raise for South Dakota teachers.

After years of working with task force members and tracking votes around the Statehouse she watched as her vision became a reality.

“That is the absolute highlight of my career,” Schopp said [Dana Ferguson, “From GEAR UP to Teacher Pay, Schopp Reflects on Leading SD Schools,” that Sioux Falls paper, 2017.12.14].

Sure, maybe that 2016 pay raise will define Schopp’s tenure at the Education helm: a long-delayed reform addressing decades of neglect that fell well short of its goal in the first year and was budgetarily abandoned by the Governor twenty months after he signed it into law.

Schopp’s proudest achievement has disappeared in less time than it took her to go from noticing anything amiss in the Mid-Central Educational Cooperative’s handling of the federal GEAR UP grant and other funds to cutting Mid-Central off from the Pierre gravy train. Engrave that on your tin belt buckle.


  1. tara volesky 2017-12-14

    Very disappointed in the 4 Tribal Relations Democrat Legislators that once again voted to cover-up the Gear-up scandal by choosing not to subpoena Schopp, Melmer, long with several others …… OK Natives, time to vote these turncoats out of office. They should be ashamed of themselves……..UNBELIEVABLE!!!!!!

  2. grudznick 2017-12-14

    I was most disappointed with her inability to get teachers, of whom she was by all accounts one of the very best, clearly in the top tier of the SILT, to understand that they are not all robotic socialists and that the best teachers should get paid more than the sub-average teachers. The Seven Indisputable Levels of Teachers should be engraved on Ms. Schopp’s statue they put up out there.

  3. South DaCola 2017-12-15

    I’m still baffled we were suckered into the half-penny raise ruse to begin with. It was an idiotic plan at best. I knew they would dissolve it’s original intent within 1-2 years and that new half-penny was just another tax increase with NO purpose. No doubt there is a lot of stupid people in SD politics, but the ignorance of this plan was beyond pale. The only way we are going to ever solve our tax problems is with a state income tax. Keep increasing sales taxes and keep watching people buy online more and more.

  4. Loren 2017-12-15

    So, are Republicans now the “tax and spend” party? Raise taxes and nothing changes? Uh, ok…

  5. Caroline 2017-12-15

    I admit I don’t totally understand Ms Schopp’s role in teacher pay etc. It seems to me that no one worked harder on trying to raise teacher pay than SDEA and local grassroots pressure applied to legislators by concerned parents, business leaders, and teachers. I am not clear on how Ms Schopp can take much credit for the effort. Correct me please, if I am wrong.

  6. South DaCola 2017-12-15

    Caroline, nobody can really take credit, because it failed.

  7. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2017-12-17

    I’m with you, Caroline. SDEA had to work for thirty years to raise teacher pay. Schopp first backed Daugaard’s really bad merit-pay proposal. Then she backed the Governor’s Blue Ribbon proposal. Her followership does define her legacy.

  8. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2017-12-17

    But yeah, what credit is there for anyone if the plan is now abandoned?

    I guess we can say we’re a few thousand dollars better off than we would have been otherwise. But those few thousand dollars don’t rise to the intent onwhich the plan was sold.

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