The Associated Press
Argus Leader, Sioux Falls: Nov. 13, 2012
Include voter voice in new education reform bill
Before South Dakota makes another ill-fated run at reforming our schools, let's answer one key question: What are we trying to fix?
Voters overwhelmingly rejected Referred Law 16, but the measure was framed before the election as a showdown between Gov. Dennis Daugaard and teachers. The law would have implemented merit pay and teacher evaluations based in part on their students' test scores. It also would have added $15 million to teachers' salaries.
Voters — the same people who often gripe that teachers are the lowest paid in the nation — also rejected Initiated Measure 15, which would have added a penny to the state sales tax to generate revenue for schools and Medicaid.
With lots of entry points on each bill, it is difficult to know why voters rejected them. We don't think lawmakers and the governor should misread what their intentions were with those votes, either. Instead, they should seek to get citizens — all of us — involved in what education reform should accomplish.
That's why we hope the state asks people to contribute their ideas before moving forward with new legislation. Everyone has skin in the education game — students, parents, grandparents, neighbors or taxpayers. We all understand the value of a well-educated society.
If the problem we hope to solve is better student performance, as Daugaard has suggested, then we need to know what we're shooting for and how to support teachers in doing a better job. If the issue is paying teachers what they deserve, then we need to spend some money, and that money has to come from somewhere.
As we examine the question of what it is we're trying to fix, the administration must include all stakeholders at the table: teachers, superintendents, business leaders, academics, lawmakers and ordinary citizens.
Before we introduce more bills that will only draw the ire of teachers and superintendents, let's work together to identify what we're trying to do and then develop an appropriate strategy.
Governor, it's your move.
The Daily Republic, Mitchell: Nov. 15, 2012
Secession will not move the country forward
It is utterly amazing to us that people across the United States are screaming for their respective state to secede from the union following President Barack Obama's victory in the recent election.
We are surprised that people are so passionately against the president — and so much that they would put their name on a petition to actually dissolve the government in the same style that sparked the American Civil War. First of all, such an act borders on treason. Second, it's just poor sportsmanship in the wake of the country's decision to put Obama back in office for another four years.
We endorsed Mitt Romney for president. That doesn't mean we have some deep hatred for President Obama, but that we simply disagree with some of his practices, political beliefs and policies. No big deal.
Yet we now watch in wonder as people flood the Internet with hateful and hurtful spite in the wake of Obama's win.
And now we hear about petitions designed to encourage states to secede from the union.
The South Dakota petition has been signed by more than 5,000, although we hear that most of those disgruntled people aren't even from South Dakota.
South Dakota is a red state, and one that overwhelmingly backed Romney for president.
But our candidate lost, fair and square. The majority of Americans wanted Obama for president.
The contest begins anew in about three years, and maybe next time, Republicans will emerge victorious.
In the meantime, these outlandish calls for secession only create a bigger divide that does nothing to help move the country forward.
Rapid City Journal. Nov. 15, 2012
City could use public art policy
Rapid City's Parks & Recreation Advisory Board is reviewing a public art policy that is aimed at preventing city parks from becoming cluttered with memorials to the deceased.
The city already has a policy regarding memorial benches and plantings, which are not generating the same concern as larger memorials.
"Memorials are typically, in my opinion, for cemeteries," board member Rick Askvig said. "We don't want our parks to become cemeteries."
The board began reviewing a proposed policy on public art prior to the recent unveiling of a proposed memorial to the Rapid City police officers who died in last year's shooting. The police department is requesting space in Founders Park for a 14-foot memorial to Ryan McCandless and Nick Armstrong, who died in the Aug. 2, 2011, shooting. The memorial features two bronze life-size eagles soaring between granite monoliths with engravings of McCandless and Armstrong.
The advisory board unanimously approved the police memorial while delaying action on its proposed public art policy.
The policy would set minimum standards for public art displays and the route through various city boards that must review and approve projects before the Parks and Recreation director and Parks & Recreation Board can sign off on the proposal.
The city has no problem with memorial trees and benches that are dedicated to loved ones. According to interim Parks & Recreation Director Lon Van Deusen, there are more than 100 trees in Memory Lane in Sioux Park and about 50 benches across Rapid City, mostly in Canyon Lake Park, Sioux Park and along the greenway.
Rapid City could use a public art policy. We are surprised that the city, with a statue or other artwork on almost every corner in the downtown area, does not already have such a policy in place.
The Parks & Recreation Advisory Board and city council should adopt a public art policy before the city comes to wish it had one in place.
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.