Press "Enter" to skip to content

Noem Years Bring Decline in Sioux Falls Students Heading for College

Four years of Kristi Noem and Republicans bashing the merits of college education may be taking their toll in Sioux Falls. A new report from the Sioux Falls School District shows that fewer of its graduates are seeking post-secondary education:

The report states that over half of Sioux Falls high school graduates (55%) immediately enroll in a postsecondary education in the fall following their graduation. That’s a downturn from a peak of 59% of graduates enrolling in post-high school education in 2018 and 2019 [Jazzmine Jackson, “Sioux Falls School District Sees {Fewer} Students Enrolling in College,” KELO-TV, 2022.11.28].

Post-secondary enrollment among Sioux Falls high school graduates had been creeping up from 57% to 59% during Governor Dennis Daugaard’s second term, despite his constant bashing of liberal arts college degrees.

Brain drain is staying pretty steady under Noem. 17% of Sioux Falls high school grads headed out of state for college. That percentage is up from 15% in 2020 (the weird pandemic year that we must asterisk in all analyses) but down from 18% in 2019. The out-of-state outflow from Sioux Falls reached a low of 14% in 2016 but stayed close to 17% in other Daugaard years. USD, SDSU, Southeast Tech, Augie, USF, and DSU are the top six college destinations for Sioux Falls grads, followed by the University of Minnesota in the Twin Cities, the University of Nebraska in Lincoln, our own School of Mines, and Minnesota State University in Mankato.


  1. Donald Pay 2022-11-29 09:26

    I have a lot to say about this. First, year-to-year variation in these sorts of statistics is not uncommon. Calling this a “trend” stretches the statistics a bit too far. That said, you don’t want to see these statistics going in this direction for long, so, yeah, you look for ways to change them.

    The constant bad-mouthing of teachers, schools, college, etc., has an impact. It is more important that parents aren’t doing the bad-mouthing. I would say your average student doesn’t really care what Noem or Daugaard has to say about their teachers and education in general, but their parents probably take some of their opinions from these misguided politicians, and parrot the nonsense. That, probably, has more of an impact.

    Further, schools and teachers are constantly pushed in contradictory ways by politicians who have no idea how to teach. How many “school reform” programs have there been since the first Janklow years? Remember how computers in the classroom were supposed to save students from having to rely on teachers? These expensive Republican fads come at the rate of about one every five years. There has been a constant rate of failure of such “Republican school reform” efforts, as the next Republican fad gets rolled out. Five years later, the Republicans say their earlier program has failed, and they implement a new one. Noem is now rolling out a patently stupid program for social studies, which will wreck history for South Dakota students. Don’t worry, though, it will be wrecked for about five years before they decide it is a failure and the next Republican fad comes along.

    If there is a trend, it is this: Republican “school reform,” no matter what it is, has failed. After 40 years of these efforts nothing they have done has worked, even by their own admission. They have to find a new way to wreck education every five years. Maybe it’s time to stop listening to the politicians. Maybe the teachers should be the one we listen to. If we want schools to do better, we should empower teachers and parents.

  2. flopster 2022-11-29 11:00

    Well no surprise there, since KN didn’t even have a college degree when going to DC to represent SDak in the House.
    She has history of appalling support of education at any level.

  3. Jenny 2022-11-29 11:27

    I actually don’t blame SD Seniors for wanting to get the hell out of SD for their college education. MN just makes sense for so many young South Dakotans with the reciprocity agreement and much higher paying jobs, particularly in healthcare, which is the highest in the nation. You can be yourself in MN if you are LGBT and not worry about coming out of the closet like in anti-gay SD.

    Just let SD be the funny old senile state it is.

  4. Mark Anderson 2022-11-29 12:25

    Republican’s nationwide are schoolboarding it to kill truth and public education. It’s rather funny since most of their support is from areas with absolutely no alternate education other than the public schools. They are grooming for stupidity.
    Governor DD would have been fine with a conservative arts education. It’s all in the terminology. For instance
    anything with the term theory in it. The theory of evolution, critical race theory, etc. Noem just follows this. Another year and she’ll die her hair blonde. She’s that dumb.

  5. O 2022-11-29 12:52

    My question is: if it is not post-secondary education, what are high school graduates doing? Is there a strong job market for them to step into a rest-of-your-life career pathway? Or are we talking about eighteen-year olds dead-ending after graduation?

    Over Thanksgiving I was talking to a former student about how college is not for everyone — but that seems to be a presumed pathway for all too many. She observed that there are not the same possibilities for employment straight out of high school that “boomers” had allowing them to work their way into the middle class, home ownership, and American dream lifestyles anymore. While I agree that we have over-pushed college, I think we have ignored the other half of the discussion of how America’s greedy corporate structure has dried up opportunity for a middle class to come from anything less than a post-secondary education of some kind. Even technical skills have become an expectation of employment rather than an on-the-job training consideration of employers.

  6. P. Aitch 2022-11-29 14:21

    Maybe it’s good the SD kids don’t go to college. College educated kids just make the other kids feel inferior.

  7. leslie 2022-11-29 15:28

    No surprise Noem (and Daaugard?) are uneducated subversives!

    In 2014, Alito dined with evangelical lobbyists who left with inside knowledge that Burwell v. Hobby Lobby would go their way. Sure enough, three weeks later, the Supreme Court issued its decision in Hobby Lobby, holding that corporations that claim religious objections can refuse to fund contraception required by the Affordable Care Act. Alito wrote the majority opinion.

    [Once again] Alito authored the court’s decision … in 2022, this time in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which overturned Roe v. Wade. Four months before Dobbs came down, Alito’s draft majority opinion was leaked to Politico. The final opinion largely tracked the draft.

    Whistleblower Rev. Rob Schenck used to run Faith and Action. Its goal was to “embolden the justices” to write “unapologetically conservative dissents.”

    The GOP obviously has groomed its officers.

    Schenck “said his aim was not to change minds, but rather to stiffen the resolve of the court’s conservatives in taking uncompromising stances that could eventually lead to a reversal of Roe v. Wade.

    Kristi has certainly been wined, dined, flown, partied, and slept in crisp 5 star linen, much on taxpayers dime, and to her supplicants’ no doubt delight! We can see how this likely works on Kristi’s circumstances. Likely more like a stewardess than a would-be nurse!

    The SCOTUS leaks were apparently designed to strengthen CONSERVATIVE JUSTICES ALITO, THOMAS AND SCALIA’S resolve…. in taking uncompromising stances that could eventually lead to a reversal of Roe.

    Schenck “gained access through faith, through favors traded with gatekeepers and through wealthy donors to his organization, abortion opponents whom he called ‘stealth missionaries,’ [and he] even bought a building across the street from the Supreme Court to facilitate his campaign.”

    Schenck recruited rich donors and urged them to invite some members of the Supreme Court to dinner, vacation homes and private clubs. He encouraged them to contribute to the Supreme Court Historical Society, schmooze the members of the court at their functions and invoke “biblical truth.”

    Schenck prayed w/ Scalia 24 hours after Bush v. Gore was decided.

  8. Mark Anderson 2022-11-29 17:39

    You know leslie, since it appears the only way that Republican’s can win the Presidency is the Electoral College. Efforts should be made to deal with that. I’m sure that Hillsdale can explain to a class of second graders why the smallest row gets a few more votes than the bigger rows. Republican’s have only won the actual vote of the American people once in the last eight presidential elections and to call that popular is a misnomer. Bush the compassionate conservative actually lost the vote against Gore, then won it on a second term against Kerry. That’s it.

  9. Arlo Blundt 2022-11-29 17:48

    The decline in South Dakota continues unabated. Its tragic, because this generation of high school and college students have great potential, overall, I find them to be wonderful, interesting and interested people. I believe they will prevail over the presentt state sponsored, militant ignorance.

  10. Bonnie B Fairbank 2022-11-29 18:03

    Oh, Arlo, I hope this is true.

  11. Jake 2022-11-29 18:11

    Yeah, Mark, you are so right! Easier still, today, the ways in which the GOP has finagled and finessed their methods of “picking their voters” to the exclusion of those people that would elect the other party but don’t know the “right” way to vote so laws are change to make it harder for those “wrong” people to vote…

    In Atlanta, in the run-off election this week, lines are two hours long; esp. in heavily black neighborhoods. This mainly because of removal of “drop-boxes’, some precincts, co-mingling precincts etc by Republican Secretary of Stare with the blessing of GOP governor Kemp and GOP legislature. In South Dakota we don’t have this problem because the SD GOP isn’t threatened that much from Democrat opposition.

  12. V 2022-11-29 18:16

    Sitting Bull College in Ft Yates has satellite classrooms in McLaughlin and Mobridge. Students who graduate from the local area can receive their first year of college free. It’s a very successful program because it gives our youth a chance to see if they are college bound and it helps knock out those pesky prerequisite classes that are in the way and expensive.

    Unfortunately, because of Republican control of public education, many hands-on classes have been dropped from high schools altogether so many students don’t consider welding, plumbing, or mechanics. I just paid a plumber $90 an hour to install 2 faucets. WOW!!!

  13. grudznick 2022-11-29 18:44

    That’s a bargain, Mr. V. $90 an hour for a plumber is a great deal. High schools, like that in Mobridge and McLaughlin, should add more of these vocational classes so the kids are learning more welding and plumbing. The world needs welders and plumbers, fellows who work hard, and fewer literature teachers and art fanciers. (Art fanciers are people who want to get paid to admire what they think is “art.”)

    Come to think of it, fewer artists wouldn’t be all bad either. Except those artists who weld plate metal and pipe. That’s the kind of art we need.

  14. Anne 2022-11-29 21:04

    Is grudznick in some kind of contest to show how dementedly stupid a troll can be?

  15. P. Aitch 2022-11-29 21:55

    Anne – He’s such a boring dolt he says outrageous things just to get attention. He’s just a silly Susie.

  16. grudznick 2022-11-29 23:47

    Ms. Anne:

    Yes. Thank you for your vote. It has been counted.

  17. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2022-11-30 04:59

    Donald, I agree that the variation within a few points over the past several years may not constitute a rock-solid trend. However, given the talk we hear from our elected leaders and economic developers about the need to get more students to pursue higher education, we can say with complete confidence that we aren’t making progress. Plus, the rate of Sioux Falls kids going to college is consistently several points lower than the national average, which was in the high 60s throughout the 2010s and dropped to 62.7% in 2020 and 61.8% in 2021.

  18. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2022-11-30 05:01

    Arlo, would you say that the more potential people have, the more likely they are to seek colleges and workplaces and places to live that have the most potential? The more wonderful, interesting, and interested they are, the more motivated they will be to seek places that can spark their interest and wonder?

  19. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2022-11-30 05:10

    O notes the hard bind we are in: college isn’t for everyone, but does our economy offer enough opportunities for those who don’t go to college?

    I would think that Sioux Falls would be the best place in the state to find a variety of jobs that are better than “dead-end” jobs. It seems there are always houses being built, renovated, and repaired (cf: V’s faucets!). I would think that someone who doesn’t want to go to college can always find a job laying brick or shingles, putting up frame and drywall, replacing pipes and wires, etc., and pick up good job skills that could translate to a decent paycheck and maybe even self-employment.

    But the availability of such jobs doesn’t change the fact that Sioux Falls will have more grocery, bar, restaurant, and retail jobs than the farther-flung small towns as well, that we need people to work those jobs, and that we need to pay those people living wages for their necessary work.

    The Sioux Falls report does not appear to analyze how many of the non-college-bound grads are employed or how much their are making at their employment.

  20. runs_with_fire 2022-11-30 05:45

    The more masses you keep undereducated, the more Republican voters on election day. Keep em dumbed down.

  21. V 2022-11-30 06:02

    Cory, whoever set up the criteria for college admissions and the credits needed to earn a degree did not expect everyone to attend college. But that doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t take classes that enhance their life and widen their worldview. For example, Grudz should return to school for a liberal arts degree that includes ceramics, all the literature of the Bronte sisters, and the appreciation of classical and operatic music. I imagine his wife may appreciate his absence.

    College/higher education should not be limited to professional goals only. But when you live in the boonies and have to work 3 part time jobs just to survive, learning is not a priority.

  22. Denise Williams 2022-11-30 13:52

    So my first year college student is already looking at leaving because of the Harassing behaviors of students and staff at the College, people setting trashcans right outside of LGBTQ students doors in the dorms. Stalking and parents of stalker behaving just as pathetic as their own child. When you go from loving to learn to hating every aspect of where and who you are that says a lot about the SD secondary Education institutions.

  23. Arlo Blundt 2022-11-30 14:53

    Cory…well, of course you’re right which has contributed to the “brain drain” that’s been going on in South Dakota since settlement.

  24. All Mammal 2022-12-01 01:55

    Ms. Williams- that infuriates me because those are the exact results you would expect when our governor signs anti LGBTQ laws and there is resistance to civil rights and our teachers aren’t even allowed to hang a rainbow piece of paper on their wall.

    I would like to visit that campus and correct those behaviors. Have a little chit chat. Nice and mellow. Learning is sacred and school campuses should be welcoming to all students. Every student has the right to feel safe from harm and discrimination. I would like to help.

Comments are closed.