Studying South Dakota’s Education System With An Open Mind
A column by Gov. Dennis Daugaard:
South Dakotans all share three goals for our education system. First, we want a quality system of schools focused on student success. Second, we want a workforce of great teachers. Finally, we want an efficient, equitable funding system that supports those goals.
Earlier this year, I joined with legislative leaders to create the Blue Ribbon Task Force on Teachers and Students. This task force will seek public input, collect and analyze data, and make recommendations to the 2016 State Legislature for reform.
The first step has already begun. Over the past couple of months, task force members have been holding meetings to seek public input. They have met with teachers and administrators, parents, business people and interested members of the public. The agenda is simple: the task force is there to listen.
Over the next couple of weeks, several more meetings are being held so that members of the public can offer input. An up-to-date schedule of public input meetings is available at blueribbon.sd.gov. Citizens can also email their input to the task force at that site. I encourage all South Dakotans to take advantage of these opportunities to participate in the process.
So far, these public meetings demonstrate the value that South Dakotans place on education. They want to have the people, facilities and resources to provide a quality education to our young people. Many ideas and suggestions have come forward – everything from a longer school year, to consolidation or sharing among small districts, to differential pay for high-demand teaching fields, to increased funding through a new tax.
Ideas like these can be controversial and I know they will lead to more discussion. That is why I have asked the task force to consider all viewpoints, honestly consider all available data and use good judgment as it recommends reforms. This process does not have a predetermined outcome and, at this point, no options should be taken off the table.
I hope everyone will wait to judge the process until it ends, and will consider the task force’s recommendations with an open mind. That is what I will do.