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Voters to Get Final Say on Teacher Incentive Plan

PHOTO: Voters to Get Final Say on Teacher Incentive Plan

PHOTO: Voters to Get Final Say on Teacher Incentive Plan


July 3, 2012

PIERRE, S.D. - Petition signatures turned into the Secretary of State's Office have been verified, and voters will decide the fate of HB1234, the teacher incentive plan.

Teachers and other supporters submitted almost 31,000 signatures in their bid for a public vote on the bill, while only 16,000 signatures were needed. It will be on the ballot as 'Referred Law 16.'

Sandra Waltman, speaking for the South Dakota Education Association, says teachers do not think the new law is good for their pupils.

"They don't think that House Bill 1234, 'Referred Law 16,' has the components that really are focusing on students and student achievement; they want to look at what schools can do to really help students. They just want to visit with voters and say this is not going to help us work together as teachers. We need something that is going to bring us together and make good decisions policy-wise for out students."

The bill as passed by the legislature would give bonuses to certain math and science teachers, and grants to college students going into teaching.

Waltman says they want the debate to focus on students, not teachers and pay.

"There's a lot of talk about merit pay and tenure, for a lack of a better term. Teachers really want to talk about how this is going to impact students, and they feel that the elements in 1234 are going to make their collaborative relationships very difficult, and create a big bureaucracy that in the end isn't going to help students."

She says they feel the measure creates the opposite of local control, which all sides say they support.

"This feels like a one-size-fits-all mandate, and I think that is what educators are concerned about, that they can't work together to figure out how to meet their students' needs if this bill passes."

Governor Dennis Daugaard, who proposed the original bill, said in a statement: "Now that this has been placed on the November ballot, we can look forward to a discussion as to how best to advance student achievement, reward great teaching, and attract more good teachers to the profession."


Jerry Oster, Public News Service - SD