From Capitol Hill - House Report

 

December 20, 2023



December 2023

As 2023 ends and the 99th South Dakota legislative session is ready to begin January 9, 2024, it seems like a good time for an update.

My first year as a South Dakota legislature has been informative, educational, and enjoyable. Serving on the educational committee, I have had a chance to meet many great individuals that have common goals--provide safe and great learning experiences for all ages of students. Since the close of last session, I along with other legislatures have met multiple times with public school officials, home schoolers, along with our private schools in District 23 and 3. We have also been invited and attended multiple meetings with Northern State University and toured The School for Visually Handicapped.

Over the summer months, the leadership of the South Dakota House and Senate along with educational committee chairs, school officials and the Department of Education held some meetings to discuss concerns and some changes within our educational system. I wasn’t part of this group but am encouraged that the parties took the initiative to come together to have productive conversations. Working together or as a team we should be successful in finding positive changes.

We have some issues that need addressed and bills to look for—changes in testing, students absent from any school, children going hungry and unpaid school lunches, teacher shortage, virtual school, and vouchers for private schooling. Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) have become harder and cost more to obtain for school bus drivers. The E-Learning hosted at Northern State University, apprentice teaching program, started in 2023, and the dual credits many schools take advantage of seeming to be a benefit for our schools.

I have had multiple conversations about the stigma put on becoming an educator. I have listened to legislatures, educators, and parents discuss and encourage their children to NOT become an educator for various reasons, mostly pay. I have two daughters and three nieces that are teachers and here are some good reasons to become an educator. Not every day is going to be easy, but most days will be rewarding professionally and personally. This occupation may not be the highest pay in dollar amount but count the benefits, insurance, time off to spend with family, and over fourteen billion dollars in South Dakota fully funded retirement waiting for you when you decide to retire. Teaching isn’t for everyone, but community leaders and parents rather than discouraging try encouraging our youth to enter a field where they can help mold the future of our youth and the future of South Dakota.

In South Dakota we have a strong crop of young individuals, future leaders, and as a parent or grandparent it would be nice to take all the credit. In reality it takes a tribe or community to shape and mold our youth. Please tell an educator “Thank You” and it will not cost you anything, but it may make a difference.

 

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