More changes possible with education bill
By CHUCK CLEMENT, Staff Reporter
The latest attempt at changing the K-12 education system in South Dakota passed through the House a week ago, but the state Senate may still offer some changes to the proposal that would enact merit pay and eliminate teacher tenure.|
HB1234 was read in the state Senate on Tuesday and referred to the Education Committee, and Rep. Patricia Stricherz, R-Dist. 8, reported hearing that senators could make some changes to the education bill.
Stricherz, a House Education Committee member, had voted to pass the education bill out of committee so that representatives could debate the proposal on the chamber floor. Stricherz later voted against HB1234 during a chamber vote, saying that she thought the legislation was a move in the wrong direction for K-12 education.
"I don't see where the students will benefit," Stricherz said. "I'd rather vote for a proposal that provides strong support for education and allows for the independent success of our students."
According to Stricherz, her opinion of HB1234 was partly formed after speaking to local school superintendents and teachers and reading e-mails from educators.
"The entire aspect of it, they were uncomfortable with the provisions of the bill, and because they were uncomfortable, I was uncomfortable," Stricherz said.
K-12 educators had assured her that provisions were already in place to remove unproductive teachers from school faculties.
In its current form, HB1234 would require public schools to evaluate each teacher during the first three years of employment and then every other year afterward. The state would require each district to use student growth and observable characteristics of good teaching to rate teachers.
Half of the score for a teacher's evaluation would come from student scores on state assessment tests. The teachers would receive the other half of their scores from an evaluation system -- not yet in existence -- that the state would approve.
Currently in HB1234, the schools would need to create an assistance plan for teachers in their fourth or subsequent years of teaching who didn't meet the state and school district performance standards. During their evaluations, teachers would receive ratings on a four-tier scale -- distinguished, proficient, basic and unsatisfactory. School boards could refuse to renew a teacher's contract if the educator receives unsatisfactory ratings on two consecutive evaluations.
The state would also allow school districts to dismiss a teacher with tenure if the districts found a breach of contract, poor performance, incompetence, gross immorality, unprofessional conduct, insubordination, neglect of duty, or violations of any school district policy or regulation.