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Senate Education Kills Noem’s Private School Vouchers for Foster Kids

In a stunning blow to Governor Kristi Noem’s agenda, Senate Education yesterday killed Senate Bill 100, the Governor’s ALEC-generated proposal to give foster families vouchers to spend at South Dakota’s religious schools. The bill died on a 4–2 vote, and every nay was a Republican. Senators Sydney Davis, Tom Pischke, Steve Kolbeck, and Kyle Schoenfish. I don’t know what Democratic Senator Shawn Bordeaux’s major malfunction is, but he voted for sending public dollars to private schools along with Senator Jessica Castleberry.

Governor Noem sent her senior policy advisor Laura Ringling and her new conservative-mouthpiece Secretary of Education Joe Graves (who ought to be defending public schools from this kind of fiscal predation) to back Senator Al Novstrup’s unable presentation of her plan to send $4,000 to foster families for each foster kid for private school tuition. Noem’s plutocrat friends from Americans for Prosperity also sent their lobbyist to support SB 100, consistent with their desire to destroy public education. But the public schools lobby again took on the hard work of pointing out that conservative rich folks’ ideology makes for really bad public policy, and enough Republicans on the committee bought those arguments:

“It’s kind of convoluted,” Kolbeck said about Noem’s plan. He noted that nobody talked about buying a laptop or paying transportation fees; instead the focus in the testimony was on private schools. “Long story short, private schools do not have to accept these kids,” he said.

Republican Sen. Sydney Davis supported Kolbeck’s motion to kill the bill. Davis said she’d rather see the $15 million sent to the state Department of Social Services to directly help foster families [Bob Mercer, “Senate Panel Kills Noem’s Foster-Kids Scholarships,” KELO-TV, 2023.02.07].

A second-term Governor fresh off a 63% reëlection victory with a 90% supermajority in the Legislature can’t get a signature piece of conservative legislation past its first committee hearing. Once again, Kristi Noem demonstrates that her only job is winning elections, not passing any significant legislation.


  1. Mark Anderson 2023-02-08 08:24

    Gosh Kristi, the Florida legislature does anything and everything for Governor DeSantis.

  2. P. Aitch 2023-02-08 08:32

    Gov. Rhonda wants his own castle at Disney World. His own blue ball gown, too. #grins

  3. MARie 2023-02-08 11:23

    Private School Vouchers–Educational Savings Accounts–Tax Credit Scholarships???
    All divert funds from public education in SD and across the U.S.

    1/3/2023 Alternet
    School Vouchers Have Been a Disaster—Now Advocates Are Trying to Rename Them
    Peter Greene – January 3, 2023

    The 2022 SD legislature allowed the diversion of $3.5 million for Insurance Industry Tax Credit Scholarships–
    state monies that otherwise would have been available to fund K-12 public education here.
    Partners in Education Tax Credit Program (SB 189)

    SD’s 2023 Legislative Session has said NO to SB100 Noem’s Education Savings Accounts–a proposed $15 million
    diversion of state funds otherwise available to fund public education here.

    But a more far-reaching HB 1234–an Iowa style Private School Voucher bill–proposing a major diversion of K-12 public
    school funding is still pending.

    South Dakota’s meagerly funded public K-12 public education system does not need
    an Iowa style MAGA Gov. Reynolds PAC funded “school choice” dismantling of K-12
    public schools here.

    But proposed HB1234 Private School Voucher Bill is a much more far-reaching “Iowa style” transfer of funds from public to private schools.

    SD 2023 Leegislature HB 1234 private School Vouchers

    MAGA Iowa Gov. Reynolds–with a Republican House and Senate–has succeeded in major defunding of Iowa’s once highly acclaimed
    K-12 public education system by passing “school choice” voucher money transfers out of Iowa’s once top-ranked Iowa K-12 public education system.

  4. Arlo Blundt 2023-02-08 12:57

    Senator Sydney Davis is absolutely correct…get the money to Foster Families not to Private Schools. Well done.

  5. Christine A 2023-02-08 13:29

    Back when I was in high school (late 80s) I think was when this idea for vouchers started. I remember my parents saying they did not support it because they made the decision to send my brother and I to Catholic school. They did not have to, but chose to and the taxpayers shouldn’t have to foot the bill for that. (I have some pretty kick-ass parents!!!) And I think a lot of parents who send their children to private school understand that. Of course no one wants to pass up “free” money so I can’t blame the parents that want to see this go through. On the other side of it though how in the world would we operate public schools with this happening? How many teachers will we need? What about the schools we’ve built (and maybe not paid for) that would be 1/2 full? And on and on with issues like that. I don’t really understand how any Legislators could even think this is a good idea (what’s up Iowa?) Especially if they get the Hillsdale Standards in place – how will they propagandize all the children without any kids in public schools?

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