Open Letter to the South Dakota Legislature – It’s Time to Do Something about Teacher Pay!
First things first - I'm writing this as the parent of someone who's going to college to be a teacher.
My daughter has wanted to be a teacher for as long as I can remember. Like many little girls, she spent hours while growing up playing 'school' with her friends. Each would a take turn being the teacher. I can even remember my daughter putting together art projects and assignments for the next day.
Fast forward to 2015. My daughter is now a junior in college, trying to figure out where she should do her student teaching because often times wherever you student teach, that's where you end up getting a job offer after graduation.
We've known for a long time teacher pay in South Dakota has been a problem, but now that my daughter is studying to be a teacher, it's really hit home. I keep hearing all these stories about her friends who felt they had no other choice but to move out-of-state. How sad.
I even know of young teachers who 'crossed the border' for an extra $10,000. I realize for some, 10-grand may not seem like a lot. But for someone going into the teaching profession, $10,000 is A LOT of money.
I also have a friend whose child moved out-of-state to teach and started out making as much as she was making after over 20 years on the job. Really!?!
People, we can't keep kicking this can down the road! It's time the state legislature - those we elected - do something about this.
I know there are some of you thinking to yourself, "Oh yea, he's got a kid in college wanting to be a teacher, and now he's speaking up!"
This has been a concern of mine for a long time. I've talked about it on the air numerous times.
Just this past fall how many news stories did we hear where school districts in the state couldn't find enough teachers to fill all the positions they had open - and you know it's only going to get worse!
With the teacher pay gap getting wider by the year, it won't be long before schools in this state will be forced to combine classes - for lack of teachers - in order to accommodate all the kids.
And if that's the case, how do you feel about having your kids or grandkids in a class of 35, 40, 45 or (dare I say) even 50? Don't think for a moment that's not what's gonna happen. South Dakota won't have any other choice but to combine classes - maybe even schools.
Just this past fall, some local media outlets did a survey and found that the majority of voters in South Dakota would be willing to pay more in taxes if the extra money were earmarked for increasing teacher pay in the state.
Come on lawmakers! It's reached a crisis level here in South Dakota!
Someone in Pierre has got to have the courage to stand up and say 'Enough is enough; it's time to do something about teacher pay in this state.' Just because the Governor refuses to do anything about it doesn't mean the issue should be swept under the rug.
If we as a state don't step forward and insist that teacher pay be increased in South Dakota - I fear it won't be just the teachers moving out-of-state.