letter: to the editor

Vote No on 16

When you go to the polls on Tuesday, you have the

opportunity to fix the mistake made by last year's state legislators

when they ramrodded HB1234 into law by a one-vote margin. That law is on

the ballot as Referred Law 16, and it deserves your NO vote.

The governor proposed this bill under the guise of "educational reform,"

barely one year after proposing a budget which slashed state funding of

education by 10 percent. (By the end of the legislative session, that

figure was reduced somewhat, but it still sent school boards reeling,

forcing them to lay off personnel and reduce offerings to students.) If

RL16 were actually concerned with reforming education, it might include

measures incorporating research on how children's brains work,

encouraging districts to start foreign language study in the primary

grades and start school later in the day for teenagers. It might address

issues like aging infrastructure, inadequate and unreliable funding,

and the crippling effects of poverty. RL16 does none of these things.

What

RL16 does do is create six new committees in Pierre, involving over 90

people, to invent and impose standards on every school district in South

Dakota. No one knows exactly what that will entail (or what it will

cost), but it seems likely that new standards will have to be evaluated

with new standardized testing. South Dakota students already rank eighth

in the country on the ACT and SAT scores, so there does not appear to

be a pressing need for even more testing.

RL16 also creates, but

does not fund, a merit pay system for teachers, despite the fact that

there is almost no research correlating merit pay for teachers with

higher achievement for students. It creates, but does not fund,

financial bonuses for teachers of math and science, despite the fact

that there is currently no documented shortage of teachers in those

areas. (There are shortages in other areas, but no bonuses are offered

to teachers of those subjects.)

No one wants actual education

reform more than your children's teachers do, but RL16 does more to

expand state government than it does to truly address student

achievement. Please help take this law off the books by voting NO on 16.

Becky Rider

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