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Right-Wing Rapid City School Board Driving Teachers Out of Public Schools

The right-wingnuts on the Rapid City school board have banned books, made excuses for domestic terrorism, and opposed public health and common-sense pandemic responses. The predictable result of this poor management is the departure of skilled teachers and staff:

With 14 resignations slated for Tuesday’s Board of Education meeting and 16 terminations and leaves total, the board would have approved 411 terminations and leaves throughout the school year. In total, there were 308 resignations, some of which were a breach of contract. The number includes faculty and staff, including principals and bus drivers.

…There are about 1,680 RCAS staff members overall, according to the district’s website.

In 2020-2021, there were 245 resignations of the 385 terminations and leaves, which is about 64%. There were 175 resignations of the 317 terminations and leaves by the end of the 2018-2019 school year, about 55% [Siandhara Bonnet, “RCAS Teacher Resignations Increase over Previous School Year,” Rapid City Journal, 2022.07.09].

411 departures out of 1,680 staff—that’s over 24% turnover. That’s still a snudge below the national separations rate of 25.5% in education in 2021 and the 47.2% rate across all industries figured by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. But it’s a local increase that means Rapid City is losing talent.

One departing teachers ties that loss to the schoolboard’s overt mistrust and denigration of teachers:

Timmi Bubac, who previously taught English Language Arts at Stevens High School and resigned as of the end of the 2021-2022 school year, said at the May 17 board meeting that there is a mass exodus of teachers.

She said teachers who are choosing to stay say they are increasingly feeling undervalued and disrespected from members of the community and some Board of Education members.

Bubac said there was a statement from the board questioning whether teachers committed a crime while designing a new curriculum for the English 12 class. She said it felt like threats, intimidation and disrespect.

“It’s incredibly disappointing that this unsupportive statement came from this board,” Bubac said. “I would love to work in a district where the school board speaks more favorably about the teachers that educate their children even in the midst of a difference of opinion” [Bonnet, 2022.07.09].

Alas, the right-wingers are probably o.k. with that exodus. They don’t respect public school teachers or public schools. They want public education to fail. If they can drive away good teachers and leave the public schools they have taken over short-staffed, they can boost their side’s case for the religious schools that will fuel their preferred theocracy. Increasing resignations and staff shortages would mark failure in any other industry, but in the right-wing world of Kristi Noem’s freedom-fakers, driving teachers out of public schools and shortchanging public school students is a sign of success.


  1. larry kurtz 2022-07-11 09:51

    NDN Collective is creating alternative education for Native students so maybe white people will get their segregated christianic schools after all.

  2. John 2022-07-11 09:52

    While a STRONG supporter of public education . . . one has to admit and embrace a couple tenets of its critics. 1) Greater, larger public policy should mandate 210-220 contact days per year. Public education should not be chasing the growing season. 2) There is no reason schools are unable or unwilling to match the academic standards of Singapore, Denmark, South Korea, Norway, the Netherlands, Japan – global leaders in academic performance. 3) There is no justification for non-academic pursuits tying up administrative time, resources, and being a burden to academic pursuits. Sports, band, theater, debate, etc., are valuable, can be life-shaping, but belong in private or other community clubs aside from academics. The hundreds (>500 by some cumulative counts) of extra-circular activities detract from circular (academic) pursuits.
    The unfortunate tendency over generations is adding to the extra-circular slate at a rapid rate while not remaining focused on the dilution of academics.
    Upon returning over 20 years a ago we sought a SF-area ‘burb for our youngest final year of high school. We asked a principal if his school offered physics and German 4 . . . his reply was gushing about the school’s band and football team, so we made the best of Lincoln High.

    A New Hampshire town reminds us that democracy is a participant activity. Folks were not participating. Folks were not paying attention. The school budget was cut 50% in one meeting.
    ““Showing up. That’s the big lesson,” said Chris Prost, 37, a Croydon resident who runs a small brewery from a barn at the back of his house. “And not just showing up, but also knowing what’s going on.””

  3. jerry 2022-07-11 10:12

    Rapid City math will now be. If Bob is blasphemus on Sunday, how many stoneweights of stones need be gathered for the appropriate stoning punishment? Bonus question. What will be the distance needed for effective stoning?

  4. P. Aitch 2022-07-11 11:01

    Denouncing curriculum that teaches about the hard truths of our country’s history is not an organic uprising of dissatisfied parents but the product of a coordinated right-wing strategy.
    – It’s a propaganda campaign with a political purpose, meant to foment fear and anger to help right-wing groups and candidates win political power at the local, state, and national levels in 2022 and 2024.
    – It’s easier to attack states that are consistently 20 -30 years behind contemporary American policy.

  5. Joe 2022-07-11 11:18

    John: All the things you want cost lots of $$, require lots of political and social capital, or both. (Administrative work often is to comply with required local and state mandates.) I hope you are engaging with your local school board members and state K-12 leadership to make your wishes known.

  6. David Newquist 2022-07-11 11:19

    After World War II, many countries which were America’s allies, remodeled their education systems according to the American plan. Up to that time, education in those countries was designed to serve the privileged, not the entire populace. Some of those countries still maintain different curriculum tracks for different people. When those countries test for academic achievement, they test only those students in the academic track, not those who were directed into a vocational track. When America administers academic achievement tests, it tests everybody. The comparisons of American scores with other countries needs some careful qualifications.

    Concerns about overemphasis ln extra-curricular cavities are legitimate, but they are a matter of providing students with opportunities to extend their learning and their skills in concert with academics. But they are also something that communities demand. Schools reflect the society from which the students are drawn. Right now, our society is viciously divided. Imagine trying to administer a school if the students were so rancorously divided. Extra-curriculars provide some contexts for social development and cohesion, but contemporary attitudes jeopardize those contexts.

    As for school boards, they were once considered to be the conduit through the public and the teaching staffs communicated. Now they are considered as corporate boards of directors who initiate and execute orders. In the 1950s when conservatives such as the John Birch Society conceived of presiding over American culture, they targeted school boards as places they could find office and rule. We are seeing their success throughout the country. But teachers who have passed the required course in the foundations of American education, quickly recognize that such boards create systems with grave malignancies that make them lousy places to work for teachers.

    If one really wants to teach, one avoids those places. Many school districts are finding that they have to suspend certification requirements in order to fully staff their schools. I could not recommend anyone to teach in such systems. Nor could I recommend sending children there. American style education seems to be thriving in many places, except America.

  7. larry kurtz 2022-07-11 14:00

    Exactly, Dave.

    President Jimmy Carter created the modern Department of Education amidst the howls from Republicans who renounce the decision to integrate schools to the present day. Ronald Reagan moved to kill the Department of Education and when Republican Newt Gingrich was Speaker of the House he was all about getting rid of DoE, too. Then came No Child Left Behind and a DoE budget that exceeds $70 billion annually.

    Now, police unions get the cash and teachers’ unions get the shaft.

    Recall Republican former South Dakota Governor Mike Rounds won election to the US Senate for advocating the dissolution of the US Department of Education and in 2015 the state’s legislature passed a resolution to abolish it.

    To this day reservation border towns are influenced by the Klan, John Birch Society, the TEA movement and now by the extreme white wing of the Republican Party.

    The Trump Organization was simply the latest obstacle to public education because it hates people of color and social equity, too. Add it all up: Rupert Murdoch, a a not-so-closeted racist himself, the Kochs, JBS, the Council for National Policy, the National Rifle Association, Fox News, Tucker Carlson, their attacks on public education and the “Great Replacement.”

  8. grudznick 2022-07-11 20:53

    Do you know what we need in Rapid City? We need a fellow like grudznick, a Conservative with Common Sense, to run for the Board of Schools and then ramrod those nimrods. It’s a shame the teacher’s union and fatcat administrators have made such enemy’s of fellows like me. It leaves them with the ilk like this to govern them.

  9. larry kurtz 2022-07-11 21:30

    Rapid City is a target for a Russian tyrant by design. Better you than us.

  10. scott 2022-07-11 21:57

    We have college friends who moved to Rapid City right after graduation. A few years later they purchased property in the hills to build their dream home. That dream home was going to be built starting this summer as their youngest graduates’ high school next spring. When we visited them last summer, they indicated that the hills have really changed the last few years and they were uncertain if they were going to build the dream home. They now have totally abandoned the dream home in the hills idea and are considering moving out of the area in the future. In their words, the hills have been invaded by “wacky-nuts”.

  11. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2022-07-12 07:11

    The distressing part, Scott, is that Noem would read that story and say, “Mission accomplished.” She will mortgage South Dakota’s diversity, talent, and future just for the sake of stacking the electorate with what she thinks will be reliable Republican voters.

  12. Mark Anderson 2022-07-12 18:35

    When Wossamatta U wanted a winning football team, they fired the English department to pay for it.

    What do I remember about school John, sports, band, theater and debate. Your vision of school is grim to say the least. In small towns, its the lifeblood of the community. Isn’t it also amazing how all those countries you list send their kids to college in America. If they can afford it, that is. What a difference a year makes.

  13. Mike Livingston 2022-07-12 20:57

    They gave Geronimo a Cadilac.

  14. John 2022-07-13 03:21

    Mark, my “vision” about school is how the world’s first world education systems grabbed the former American education system, then improved it (hat tip ot Dave). The US labors and groans to eke out 180 contact days per year. The global leaders stride with 210-240 contact days per year. The global leaders have no “high school sports, etc.” Those activities are in clubs. School is for scholarly activities. Most of the global education leaders include the trades in that umbrella – unburdened by the largely-US nonsense that everyone goes to college. Adding softball to the extra-circular activities doesn’t cut it.

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