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Blue Ribbon Task Force on Education Enters Second Round

Teachers agree it will take more than money to fix teacher shortage. Credit: Jerry Oster
Teachers agree it will take more than money to fix teacher shortage. Credit: Jerry Oster
July 13, 2015

PIERRE, S.D. - The Blue Ribbon Task Force on Teachers and Students was appointed by Governor Dennis Daugaard to re-evaluate the current funding formula, meet with stakeholders and make recommendations to the 2016 Legislature.

The group now has started the second round of meetings. Mary McCorkle, president of the South Dakota Education Association, says they agree with the governor and Legislators that more than just money is involved.

"We know we have issues with teacher pay in South Dakota," says McCorkle. "We know that we have a teacher shortage in South Dakota. We know that when we hire new teachers, the attrition rate between their first and fifth year can be anywhere from 30 to 50 percent, and we know we have to address that."

The Blue Ribbon Task Force is scheduled to meet into October.

McCorkle says the task force has to come up with more than a band-aid solution to education issues.

"Whatever we do has to have a long-term focus, and really has to address the meat of the issue," she says. "It can't just get us through a couple of years because that really does a disservice to our students."

McCorkle says there needs to be policy changes that help young teachers in those first critical years.

"If we deal with the money issue and we don't deal with supporting those new teachers, we will attract people," she says. "But we will lose them again in those first to five years - not necessarily because of a salary issue or a funding issue but because they don't feel supported."

McCorkle says a mentoring program is critical to keeping young teachers in education.

Jerry Oster, Public News Service - SD