Home > 2014 SD Legislative Session, Education, South Dakota > South Dakota Legislature: HCR 1001 and 1002 pass the House

South Dakota Legislature: HCR 1001 and 1002 pass the House

January 19, 2014

People_16_Teacher_BlackboardThis last week marked the opening of the 2014 session for the South Dakota Legislature. As far as votes go, not much has actually happened yet. But there are two House Concurrent Resolutions passed: HCR 1001 and HCR 1002. Concurrent resolutions are often said to be a ‘waste of time’ or ‘symbolic’. I used to believe that until I started following politics with more scrutiny. These CR’s are non-binding; but they are often used as a way to get certain ideas in the head of other legislatures and as a way to help pass future legislation. Since both of these CR’s are education related I would bet the results of both CR’s will be used as a way to say “you voted yes to the CR, so that means you have to support this law codifying ideas from that CR”. This method is not always effective, but it is something to watch for.

HCR 1001

This bill doesn’t do much. Here is the descriptive title of the bill:

 A CONCURRENT RESOLUTION, Encouraging school districts to build on their individual strengths by working together with other school districts to provide a rich educational opportunity for all students.

Looking at the text of this bill there really isn’t anything bothersome in the resolution. It basically says school districts should use modern technology to overcome resource shortages that smaller districts are likely to have. The resolution notes this is already happening and supports the continuation of this practice. The resolution passed 68-0.

HCR 1002

Now this House Concurrent Resolution is a little more interesting. Here is the detailed description of this HCR:

A CONCURRENT RESOLUTION, Recognizing the teacher shortage in this state and the difficulties school districts in South Dakota face in attracting and retaining qualified teachers

This one passed, but had some resistance with a final vote of 49-18. I actually expected more resistance to this HCR. My biggest problem with this HCR are two out of four of the WHEREAS statements:

 WHEREAS, this shortage is due to a variety of reasons including the financial hardships that many school districts have recently endured which caused them to ask teachers to do more with less, and in some instances, to freeze or even cut teacher pay for one or more years, and to reduce the benefits provided to teachers; and

WHEREAS, the salaries paid to teachers in some surrounding states are significantly higher

The first WHEREAS statement seems to me a direct response to the across-the-board cuts done in the State government previously by Governor Daugaard. Even with Daugaard giving a higher than expected increase in education funding for FY15, it appears there are legislators that want the spending to be even higher. I do believe most teachers are being asked “to do more with less”. So have thousands of employees working in the private sector. Asked to do “more with less” is not bad in and of itself. That is a reality during an economic downturn. I have worked with many private companies during economic downturn the last few years and believe “doing more with less” has allowed many of these companies to actually increase efficiency and cut waste. Hopefully the public school system has been able to do much of the same.

The second WHEREAS statement compares South Dakota teacher wages with surrounding states. Comparing one class of citizens pay rate across state lines really doesn’t tell anything. It doesn’t show how other professions compare across state lines or take cost of living into account. For instance I was a consultant in Minnesota for a number of years before moving back to South Dakota. My pay decreased by a huge amount moving back to South Dakota; yet I have more money now than I did then. That is because certain costs (especially housing) are so much lower here that I have more of my available to use after necessities are paid for. Simply stating “I lost pay moving to South Dakota” would have been misleading. It may be true that teachers are under-paid in South Dakota, but we should be looking at what their pay should be here; and not simply trying to keep up with the neighbors.

There is also one part of the BE IT RESOLVED statement I have a problem with. Here is the second RESOLVED statement:

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVEDthat this Legislature joins school officials in acknowledging that teachers are a highly valued resource in this state, and in exploring tuition reimbursement programs and other programs or policies that could help attract more good people into the teaching profession in South Dakota, and to keep the good teachers that are already here.

I have bolded the part I have a problem with above. Basically this goes back to what I said at the beginning of this post: this HCR will be used as a means to pass “other programs or policies”. Translation: throw more money at new education programs without fixing the problems that already exist. There may need to be new programs created, but this resolution seems to make it seem necessary to do that and will be used as a tool to pass other legislation. If the HCR had just stuck with acknowledging teacher retention problems it probably would have gotten most (if not all) legislators to vote yes. Instead the HCR is being used as a means to pass future well-intended legislation that likely will produce no results and waste more taxpayer dollars.

I expect both HCR 1001 and HCR 1002 will pass the Senate with no problems. I also expect both to be brought up while trying to pass education legislation later in the session.

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  1. July 1, 2014 at 3:44 pm
  2. August 19, 2014 at 6:15 pm
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