State of the State
By Jackelyn Severin
South Dakota Governor Dennis Daugaard is proposing to expand programs for workforce development and give incentives to high quality teachers. The recommendations were part of his State of the State Address given to lawmakers yesterday.
Governor Daugaard says South Dakota has a quality workforce with professionals and skilled technicians. But he says we need more of them. He says not having enough workers is one of South Dakota’s biggest challenges. To combat this challenge the governor has proposed an initiative called “South Dakota WINS”
“South Dakota WINS is a 20 point plan grouped into four categories to get more South Dakotans trained and ready to work in a rapidly growing and changing South Dakota economy,” says Daugaard.
Part of Daugaard’s 20 point plan calls for expanding technical training in South Dakota and developing hybrid courses in programs such as welding that can be delivered in the classroom and online. Daugaard proposes reallocating around a million dollars a year in Community Development Block Grants toward workforce training.
Daugaard’s South Dakota WINS initiative also focuses on increasing the number of health care providers especially in rural areas. He proposes expanding the Medical School by adding four additional students per year and exposing more medical students to rural practices.
“The majority of physicians who attend medical school in South Dakota and who enter a residency program in South Dakota stay in South Dakota to practice medicine,” says Daugaard, “And I want to work with the major health systems, communities and others to determine the feasibility of creating additional residencies in South Dakota, so we don’t train our medical students in South Dakota, have them go to residencies in another state and never come back.”
Daugaard also says the state needs to prepare South Dakota children to compete in today’s high-tech economy by getting more students interested in science and math. He says one way to do this is through hands-on science and math camps.
“The scientists, engineers, nurses and doctors of tomorrow are already in our k-12 system. Tonight as they go to bed they may not understand the value and importance of math and science but over the next few years we’ll use the tools at our disposal in and out of the classroom to show them the possibilities.”
Part of Daugaard’s South Dakota WINS initiative coincides with his Investing in Teaching program. The Governor says in order to get more students interested in science and math the state needs to attract more quality math and science teachers.
He says over the past 40 years education funding and staffing levels have increased dramatically for South Dakota schools. But he says student test scores on national assessments have remained the same.
“We’re simply putting more into the same system and we’re not getting better results. We need to change our focus. The key to obtaining high achievement in the classroom is not more spending it is effective teachers,” says Daugaard.
Daugaard proposes giving high performing teachers a 5,000 dollar bonus starting this year. High quality teachers in math and science will receive an extra bonus of 3,500 dollars. He says the bonuses will not go into their base salary and teachers will be re-evaluated every year.
Daugaard says schools and administrators will evaluate teachers based on student achievement with a new accountability system that does away with No Child Left Behind testing and adopts Common Core standards.
“This system will not just test students at the end of the year and measure them against an arbitrary bar. Instead we will test students at the beginning of the year, in the middle of the year, and again at the end of the year.”
Daugaard says this initiative also does away with teacher tenure. However, he says teachers who currently have tenure will not be affected by this plan.
Daugaard says funding for the Investing in Teaching Initiative will come from the state’s general fund and is in addition to the annual education funding formula. He says this plan is to be implemented over three years.
“This year I’ve already proposed 8 million in one-time funds for aggressive training on the Common Core standards and on teacher and administrator training,” says Daugaard, “Next I’ll propose adding 5 million dollars in ongoing funds on top of the formula to fund the bonuses for math and science teachers. And the year after that I’ll propose another 10 million dollars in ongoing funds on top of the formula and on top of the 5 million to fund the incentive bonuses for our best teachers. This is by far the largest investment in the teaching profession in the history or our state.”
Daugaard says by investing in great teachers the state is investing in young people and the future of South Dakota.
Reaction to his proposals is mixed. Democrats call the Investing in Teaching Initiative - a war against education that does little to boost morale while Republicans say the plan increases teacher’s salaries.
Governor Daugaard and his administration have already drafted legislation for his many proposals. Now lawmakers will debate those and offer suggestions of their own.
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