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SD Educators React To Gov's Speech

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Gov. Dennis Daugaard made several proposals during his "State of the State" address in Pierre. In an effort to raise student achievement, Daugaard said he wants to train teachers with the Common Core Standards, and in three years reward the top 20 percent based on their performance. The teachers would be rewarded with $5,000 bonuses each year. Teachers in the Tea Area School District said the method is too broad.

"Something I do in a classroom that may be very successful in my social studies class may not work in a math class. It's a different model, so to then have a one-size saying we're going to do this, I think we may miss really the improvement we're trying to make," said Ryan Decker, a teacher at Tea Area High School.

"I think education is a very individualized profession. We work with individual students, and individual districts are very different," said Kevin Clark, a teacher at Tea Area High School.

Tea Area School District Superintendent Jerry Schutz said the challenge would be ensuring a system can fairly measure teacher performance, and avoid tension among educators when they find out who made that 20 percent.

"There's a little bit of concern on the part of, the spirit of collaboration versus competition. That some teachers might not share their best practices, because they want to stay competitive, to stay in the higher 20 percent," said Schutz.

Part of the governor's plan would give math and science teachers bonuses of $3,500 a year, as those positions are hard to fill. But not everyone agrees that option is the best answer.

"If we're about improving the quality of teachers and getting quality teachers, then we want it to be more based on the quality of education," said Decker.

Schutz said it's a step in the right direction to address the need for these positions.

"South Dakota educators make among the lowest in the United States. And so for us to be able to provide additional incentives for people to stay here and to be able to teach these critical fields, especially in our rural areas, I think it will be a benefit to the state and to the students," he said.

Daugaard also proposed putting an end to tenure, which would affect only teachers who haven't secured it by July 1st of this year.
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