Tuesday, February 14, 2012

A Modest Proposal For HB 1234

This Representative Bernie Hunhoff suggestion appears one day too late* for the South Dakota House to show some commone sense, but the South Dakota senate can still act on it and give the House a second chance.  Hunhoff writes,
There’s nothing to be lost by deferring HB1234 to the 41st day. That’s how we politely kill bad ideas in the South Dakota legislature.
And then let’s do something great. Let’s create a year-long Blue Ribbon Task Force that challenges us all — state officials, state legislators of all stripes, teachers, community leaders and all other stakeholders — to present a plan to the 2013 Legislature that can be a roadmap to giving South Dakotans the best schools in America.
We already have some of the best schools. Our students consistently score above average. And we get all that for the least money. We spend far less per pupil than any state in our region. In fact, to reach the average spending of the seven-state region we would need to invest an additional $215 million in our schools. Obviously we can’t accomplish that any time soon, but if we don’t begin to rebuild our base funding we are going to hurt our schools and raise property taxes. Nobody knows that better than residents of the Yankton School District, where we are facing the controversy of an opt-out because the state has severely cut its funding of our schools.
Maybe I’m a hopeless optimist, but I still believe we can have the best schools in the country. To be the very best, we need to:

1) Give schools more creativity, freedom and local control;
2) Provide adequate base funding;
3) Inspire a spirit of cooperation and teamwork at every level.

HB1234 does none of that. Well-intentioned or not, it has already damaged the educational environment. Let’s stop the damage and come together to work together toward the goal of America’s best schools. 
I have no hope that the South Dakota Senate will follow up on this suggestion, but it's good to know someone in the legislature had the wisdom to make it.

*Hunhoff did offer an amendment from the floor, but the vote failed 49-20.

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