Friday, August 1, 2014

South Dakota Average Teacher Pay Lower Than It Was In 2000

The Associated School Boards of South Dakota blog (The ASBSD maintains a blog? Who know?) reports "plenty of concern over teacher shortage." The post repeats some testimony before last month's Legislative Planning Committee hearing, much of which had been previously tweeted.

The post does contain a few important new tidbits, however. First, average teacher pay in South Dakota has fallen since 1999-2000:
Low salaries for teachers were one of the main issues cited for the shrinking teacher pool. Monson noted since the 1999-2000 school year Wyoming raised teacher pay by 24 percent, North Dakota 15 percent and Nebraska seven percent.
During that same time period South Dakota decreased salaries by 0.6 percent. South Dakota also ranks last in the nation in average teacher pay.
Even if one accepts that South Dakota had far more teachers retire than its neighboring states did and, therefore, hired far more young teachers who are earning entry level paychecks, the fact that pay is lower now than it was last century should be enough for most legislators to see the need to dramatically increase education funding.

The post also reminds readers "a study released this spring by the S.D. Budget and Policy Project showed that a South Dakota teacher’s salary has the same buying power as it did in 1969." The cynic in me believes that date might move some of the more conservative legislators to action. As a general rule staunch conservatives rail against the 1960s as the source of all evil.

I remain skeptical, however, that the legislature will do anything. Legislators on the committee seem to have ruled out any new revenue sources and want to rely on failed gimmicks.
Sen. Bruce Rampelberg said he didn't believe a tax could be passed through legislature. Sen. Mike Vehle asked if pieces of the controversial House Bill 1234, which focused on merit pay for teachers and was repealed by voters in 2012, could be used to improve teacher pay.

“If you’re going to dramatically change the way we pay teachers, teachers have to be at the table from day one,” [Rapid City Superintendent Tim] Mitchell said.
Mitchell is absolutely correct, but the odds of Governor Daugaard and the Republican legislative leadership inviting teachers to the table are slightly worse than the odds that Senator Ted Cruz and President Obama will exchange a bro hug after a comprehensive immigration reform bill passes congress and is signed into law.

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