Woster discusses Schoenbeck’s plan on improving teacher salaries

From KELOland, reporter Kevin Woster is discussing State Representative Lee Schoenbeck’s proposal to increase teacher salaries in the upcoming session with a sales tax increase based on our tourism season:

Well, Schoenbeck – who might be considered the Ethan Hunt of the state Republican Party these days when it comes to raising teacher salaries – has everything going for him on the educator-pay issue except, well, a tax.

The state representative from Watertown will need one – a pretty big one — to make any difference..

The one he’s proposing, for the sake of discussion at this point, would hike the state sales tax by a penny from May 1 to Nov. 1, which would fall just short of hitting all those presents my family and friends will be purchasing each year for my birthday on Nov. 3. (Thanks, Lee…)

Before that, it would hit us all in a regressive way, but not one that carries a horrible tax burden for anyone. And it would, of course, put an additional burden on visitors to our state – hunters, bikers, Missouri River walleye fishers, boaters and the gawkers and walkers that make South Dakota Tourism go.

Why should they help us fix our education-funding problem?

“Next time you’re in Minneapolis, look at your bill — all the taxes we pay to support their infrastructure that are sales taxes on your bill,” Schoenbeck says. “And that’s true of every city you go to.”

Read it all here.

What do you think? Is that the solution the problem of teacher pay has been looking for?

50 thoughts on “Woster discusses Schoenbeck’s plan on improving teacher salaries”

  1. Not my first choice (or for that matter, even my second), but Schoenbeck’s plan at least has a chance. I’d go him one further though and make it a year-round tax, but exempt items like food and clothing to lessen the hit on poor folks.

    As a small business owner, I don’t really want to deal with the headache of having to futz with variable sales tax rates depending on what day it is.

  2. More liberal proposals from Schoenbeck. He has also defended illegal immigration on this website in the past. Another good conservative, right?

  3. Lee is a good conservative. A damn good one. One who understands that pixie dust and unicorn farts won’t fix problems. His solution, though maybe not palatable to all, is at least a starting point. Most of my friends would call me a pretty hard-core conservative. But on this one, I agree with Mr. Schoenbeck. I’m pretty sure that doesn’t make me a liberal. It makes me a realist. Those folks out there who think our teaching issue isn’t a big issue, need to bend over and remove their head from their a$$ and get a clue. It’s real. It’s here today. It’s not going away. And unless we do something about it quickly, we will suffer mightily. Sounds kind of doom and gloom but sometimes the facts are the facts. Lee’s onto something. I hope and pray he get get it done. A round of applause for someone in Pierre actually leading the way on something that matters in ways most people prefer to ignore. Nice work Mr. Schoenbeck. Keep it up.

    1. Another conservative who grows government, and then, derides the growth of government. A true McConnell, Boehner, McCain and Dole conservative. With conservatives like these, who needs liberals?

    2. Many of my friends would accuse me of writing the above post: and I would gladly take credit but I can’t today.
      Think what you may about any person willing to stick their neck out with unpopular fixes to current Statewide problems; but those are the people who get it right occasionally and we all get the reward.

      1. Wouldn’t you know, Charlie is defending another liberal. Charlie never did find a program or a tax increase he didn’t like, especially if the Governor liked it. Thanks, Charlie, for confirming.

        1. Anon actually I was pushing the Governor for a fee increase and he stomped on it hard. Must make our Governor an Ultra-Conservative, but you already knew that.

          I just really want to know how Economic Development is going in the Fulton area???

  4. Glad to see Mr. S. working on this. I like Woster’s comparison to Ethan Hunt, but how about comparing him instead to Nixon and Reagan? Some say those were the only two statesmen who could have possibly negotiated deals with China and Russia.

    Could it be similar with selling a new tax to the SD Legislature?

    Seems to me if anybody could do it, it would be Schoenbeck. (Hey, he’s almost got me convinced that I should buy him lunch next time he’s in town.)

    Go get ’em Lee!

      1. When you consider the number of days a teacher actually teaches, compared to most other jobs in South Dakota who work 50-51 weeks a year, I don’t think that is bad for an average salary. The average salary for other state workers like auditors etc who also have four year degrees and sometimes more is many times less than the average would be for a teacher working the same amount of time. I know I’m going to get hit with “but they put in all that overtime.” Really? I agree they do some. But say the number of days taught is 180 with a week before and maybe after the school year, bringing the total days taught to 190.

        A worker working 50 weeks x 5 days = 250 days working at an average job, whereas a teacher works maybe 190 days, 60 days less than a worker at another job. Do they really put in 60 extra days a year doing out of classroom work?

        How about instead studying how education dollars are used. Travel and meals and referees for extracurricular activities? Fancy gyms and workout rooms? High salaries for administrators and athletic directors?

        1. springer, you make good points about making sure the taxpayers are getting their money’s worth on a variety of line items.

          However, the teacher pay issue is a far different kind of animal. When was the last time you saw a state or county worker move to another state because the pay was so much better there? I’m not sure I have ever seen that happen, although I’m sure it has on a very limited basis.

          We need to fundamentally change the way we pay for education. So I’m not going to sing the praises of Schoenbeck. Another sales tax? Come on. You can do better than that.

        2. You need to spend some time researching, Springer. Your notion of just how much teachers work is grossly flawed and wildly underestimated. You sound like one of those people who didn’t/doesn’t care much for education and can’t understand the value.

          Teachers put in way more time. A few days spent in the classrooms toda might help you understand. Talk to someone who teaches, maybe? Ever hear the phrase, “You get what you pay for.”? It’s usually true. Is that what we want for South Dakota?

  5. Anonymous 3:30 p.m.

    Agree or disagree we should raise teacher salaries. Even propose we pay teachers less.

    Agree or disagree whether we should use an income, sales, or property tax to do it. Even propose cutting state aid or local property taxes.

    But to say this “grows government” implies it makes government more intrusive in the lives of South Dakotans which is untrue.

  6. This is one example why Schoenbeck should be Leader or Speaker of Governor. He comes up with ideas, does his homework to sell them and has the respect and trust of colleagues to potentially make his idea become a reality = real leadership.

    1. Yes, why not make him Governor for proposing another tax increase. Real conservative leadership. Lindsey Graham and Mike Rounds, of surrender caucus fame, are proud.

  7. Hmmm raise taxes on Mothers’ Day cards and gifts, fireworks, school clothes and back to school supplies, and Halloween costumes and candy. Got it. We’ll make the kids pay their teachers more.

  8. $39,580 and they work 60 days less a year than most workers…looks like we have a crisis without a problem. Oh and don’t forget adding on state retirement also.

    How can Minnesotans pay their teachers more….wait for it….wait for it…THEY GET TAXED MORE. A lot more.

  9. According to data derived from the US Dept of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average teacher pay was more than the average pay of 76% of the rest of South Dakota workers who were working a full 12 months each year. The average school administrator made more than 97% of all other workers.

    If the SDEA weren’t always spreading the myth about low teacher pay, we wouldn’t be having a shortage of teachers. I know of teachers who have literally told their students, “The pay is so low, why would you go into teaching?”

  10. The issue isn’t Schoenbeck. It’s his proposal.

    South Dakota isn’t an island. The marketplace for teachers extends to literally every state in the US. When SD teachers receive the lowest pay in the country (even when adjusted for cost of living), a school districts ability to staff its classrooms with high quality teachers is severely hampered. That results in the shortages we see today in our schools.

    It’s easy to point fingers. Historically, there have always been a few legislators that say low low teacher pay isn’t their fault – and a common scapegoat is to blame the school board. Others, like the dozen that supported Rep. May’s misguided call for an expensive special session, believe the teacher shortage can be solved by eliminating state educational standards and accountability measures the state uses to inform the citizenry their tax dollars are well spent.

    Their are always ways school school board can improve. The point is we are all in this together. The state and school districts BOTH have roles to play. It’s time for the state to step up to the plate. It’s time for more of our legislators to take up the mantle of leadership. Schoenbeck understands this. His proposal delineates the problem and proposes a solution. That’s what leaders do.

    Let’s work to solve this.

    1. I don’t believe anyone wants to get rid of standards. But MANY people want to get rid of Common Core. There is a big difference that a lot of people don’t understand; it’s easier to just point fingers and say people don’t want standards, they want inferior schools, and on and on. That’s not true, and you should know it!

  11. Springer, your first and second sentences are not correct. There are very few that want to get rid of Common Core. The vast majority want to keep it. In my large school district it is a non-issue. Our focus is on academic achievement, and our current state standards are more rigorous than our old ones. As a school board member, I like rigorous. Do you as a teacher not like rigorous? I especially like when our children do well with increased rigor. We set high standards in our district – we expect our children perform – and for the most part they do. We don’t like in a perfect world, but we work on continuous improvement.

    Both the state and national teachers organizations support common core. I understand you disagree with the majority of your teacher colleagues, just as you disagree with the majority of South Dakotans. Perhaps most concerning to me however, is a belief among some that standards and assessments are unnecessary educational expenses, and that money could be better spent on teacher salaries. Would you agree or disagree with that?

    1. Where do you get the idea I’m a teacher – I am not. I respect and admire teachers; it’s a job I knew I could never do and thus didn’t go down that road. My kids have had excellent teachers and poor teachers. Some teachers are more concerned with their coaching duties than academics, and this hurts the students. I know that I have spoken with teachers who do NOT like common core. Those who don’t like it are usually pretty quiet as they do like their jobs and want to keep them, so it’s a safe bet that your statement that most teachers support common core is flawed at its “core.” A little pun there.

      In answer to your question regarding the number and cost of assessments, I do believe they are excessive. Be more concerned with getting the kids to learn than simply teaching to a test.

      And I don’t believe that most parents would even know what Common Core is, because they are too busy raising kids, paying bills, working, etc. And most people don’t pay attention to politics; they just assume everything is going along great and don’t care. Give them some history of Common Core, who really started it and is funding it, the reasons for it, and that might change; but even then I have my doubts because too many people are apathetic to these things. But I’ll bet they know the latest about Survivor, or who is dating who in Hollywood, or what Kim Kardashian is up to.

      1. Excessive compared to what? It all depends on your frame of reference. Our current Smarter Balance assessments cost “less” per student than the previous Dakota STEP test administered before Common Core was adopted. But the current assessments are obviously more expensive than not providing a state assessments (“any” assessment is going to cost more than not doing one). I suppose it depends on what the majority of South Dakotans want, and the value that’s placed on accountability.

  12. I think public perception depends on which teachers they know. Some teachers slave over their job the entire year while some do as little as possible. I have always made it a point to do all of my professional development over the summer wherever possible. Some do not do anything over the summer in preparation. Having massive teacher turnover and continual stopgaps to fill positions is not just debilitating for school board members and administration trying to fill the positions, it stretches the rest of the staff to its limits. Additionally, what do we do to keep teachers in a district or the state for that matter? I am only 33, yet I am a senior staff member and the highest paid teacher in the school district. Obviously, there is something wrong with that type of pay scale. Small school districts get hit especially hard. After Sioux Falls picks over the lot, the crumbs fall to whomever is still wanting. The only people left are those like me who are committed to teaching and living in rural South Dakota because we believe it is a fundamentally superior place to live and work regardless of the education situation. I don’t know if Lee’s proposal will work. I am skeptical that the funds will not go where they are intended to go at the district level since there are many other funding needs.

  13. The school board member/legislature knows he’s distorting May’s call for a special session. The call proposal included:

    1. Dedicate the video lottery to education;
    2. Dedicate two pennies of the sales tax to education;
    3. Eliminate commone core and dedicate the money to teacher pay;
    4. Every dollar over $448 million in new money from the proposal would be devoted to teacher pay; and
    5. Dedicate the $21 million available after July 1, to teacher recruitment at the end of August, not waiting until next year.

    A discussion of this proposal is what “school board member” does not want to discuss. Very convenient and dishonest.

  14. Schoenbeck’s proposal has been distributed and discussed throughout SD. The above proposal by May has not. Both give South Dakotans something to think about, but the reality is the task force bill will be the only piece of legislation with the foundational work needed to potentially pass the legislature and be supported by the governor.

  15. Business Insider recently published a list of the most overrepresented occupation in every state . South Dakota’s was school administrators .

    1. is that because making someone a vice principal is the only way to get them a raise? let’s find out where those high numbers come from instead of leveraging a scorched earth argument from them.

  16. Maybe if Republicans acted like actual Republicans and cut government instead of expanding it? Mr Jones seems to forget all the past increases in state spending, state employees, and last session’s (Democratic) award winning creation of the state debt collection agency (more government).

    Who needs Democrats when we have all these faux “Republicans” raising taxes and increasing the size of government?

    Disturbing to say the least.

    1. i think the required number of people are tired of lawmakers going to pierre each year promising to “revise the aid formula” and other promises they make to adequately fund the schools. any lawmaker that wants to explore a new way to provide the needed funds for schools should be encouraged.

      1. How about a new way for Pierre? You know? The Republican way? Instead of making more government, increasing government spending on making more government, how about cutting some of the government Daugaard and Rounds created and using the money saved to pay teachers more? Instead of the tried and failed Democrat way of increasing taxes, increasing government? How about the Lee Schoenbecks actually act like Republicans for a change? Let’s try that for once..

  17. While I’m not completely opposed to raising taxes, I would like to avoid any such action if at all possible.

    A couple of points.

    All tax increases must be put to a public vote.

    It is the local school boards that determines their own budget and everyone’s salaries.

    Before asking for more money, everything must be done to cut extra expenses.

    -Centralizing some services
    -Consolidating some school districts
    -Ending some or all extra-curricular activities. Possibly entering into a public-private relationship for some activities.
    -Smarter use of technology
    -Evaluating everyone’s salary, not based on a national trends, rather what they contribute to the school.

    Has the idea of education vouchers been floated, yet?

    Before the state takes steps to solve this or any problem, we must first determine if it is the state government’s job to fix it. There are some problems that should be refer to the local level, and some that need to be addressed on the national stage.

    1. All tax increases do not have to be put to a public vote. Case in point, our “Republican” legislature and governor raised the fuel tax last year by 27% via a bill that violated our state constitutions one subject per bill criteria (raising taxes and raising the speed limit are not the same subject).

      Can we really call our governor and legislators Republicans anymore? They killed pro-life legislation, killed pro-2nd Amendment legislation, raised taxes, created more government, trampled on private property rights, and increased spending. They did all of that by voting with the Democrats. Can anyone explain how they are different from the Democrats?

      I see liberal Representative Peggy Gibson is now the spokesperson for the “Republicans” and defended their create more government debt collection agency in the Argus. Should we be calling her Ms. Majority Leader?

  18. South Dakota ranks 41st in per student spending but has consistently ranked last in teacher pay. This tells us our local boards have prioritized other things over pay. The market is changing for teachers and I expect that priority to change. The local school boards decide pay and when a proposal came up for the state to increase teacher pay it was rejected. The legislation had accountability to direct the pay to high need areas and incentivise excellent performance. Teachers and some school boards attacked it as medalling in local decisions and (gasp) have to say some teachers aren’t doing the best job so step it up. Any extra funds directed to increase pay would inevitably override local control. If a district needs more money to hire teachers they can raise local funds to address local problems.
    More state dollars mean more state control.

    1. That is one of the questions the governor wanted answered when he set up the task force. While I do not know how much bearing this has on the spending per student vs teacher pay, our state does spend a lot of money on transportation. I know of some schools that have students bussed for almost two hours in a day.

      1. Speaking as a parent whose kids used school buses to get to school 18 miles away, I would hate to see busing for academics done away with. When our district first proposed a very expensive opt-out several years ago, this was used as a threat if the opt-out didn’t pass. Well, it didn’t pass, and the buses still ran.

        But I would love to see busing at taxpayer expense for extracurriculars done away with. I would actually like extracurriculars made pay to play, or supported privately. They supposedly pay for themselves, but I highly doubt this, especially when transportation, meals, coaches, referees, and time away from the classroom are thrown in. I think it would be highly enlightening to see just exactly what all these cost.

  19. South Dakota is like a parent with a big bank account that sends his kids to school with holes in their shoes. Businesses won’t move in because they see how little the state puts back into it’s vital assets.

  20. Your “we rank 41st in per-student spending but last in teacher salaries” line is old, tired and has been debunked hundreds of times. But, I will do it one more time.

    We are only 41st if you include federal money for K-12. Federal money at the school district level – just like at the state level – has to be spend on certain programs or initiatives, and CAN NOT be used to pay the salaries of the vast majority of teachers.

    For hopefully the last time… local school districts set their salary policy based on state aid formula funding. That is the money that is raised through local property taxes first, then the state fills in what the local property valuation can’t cover.

    When you look at those two sources – state and local funding – you can see that we are in the mid-20s in local funding per student, and dead last in the country in state per-student spending.

    It is a state revenue problem. It always has been. And your misdirection is not helping.

  21. In response I would say regardless of how you categorize where the money comes from, the rankings treat every state the same. Nobody mandates how much is spent on teacher salaries but if we get federal money with mandates to spend on certain areas, doesn’t that free up local money to spend on salaries? It’s like saying I will give you $1,000 per month to spend on your mortgage but you complain because you can’t spend it on a car payment.
    Revenue is revenue regardless of where it comes from.
    So are you advocating we line item extra funds for salaries or plow more money into the formula expecting to see the salaries increase?

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