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Teachers Union Has Game Plan For Petition



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House Bill 1234, aimed at improving the state's education system, may have passed through the legislature but it's not the last you will be hearing about the bill.

Many teachers from across the state are against the bill signed by the governor. So much so that they're petitioning for the measure to appear on the November ballot.

Many eachers have been outspoken about the bill ever since it was introduced. Now that it has the potential to become law, they're not going down without a fight. Many gathered in Dell Rapids to come up with a game plan on Thursday night.

The stack of papers to get through in just a matter of a few months looks defeating, but the teachers behind them say they'll make sure at least 16,000 people put a signature to them.

"We have a large group of volunteers fired up and ready to go," said Amanda Mack from the South Dakota Education Association.

Just under 16,000 signatures is what the South Dakota Education Assocation or the statewide teacher's union needs to put House Bill 1234 to a vote in November. Susan Sigdestad of Flandreau is just one of the dozens of teachers across the state getting behind the drive ready to do whatever it takes to make sure you get a say.

"I'm gunna take it all across the eastern part of South Dakota if I need to, because I will. I will get the signatures," said Flandreau teacher Susan Sigdestad.

Teacher's like Sigdestad are fired up because the bill calls for an incentive pay system for the top 20 percent of teachers based on an evaluation system.

"Twenty percent? How would any profession like to be noted as the top twenty percent? What about the bottom 80 percent? Aren't they doing a good job too?" said Sigdestad.

The plan also calls for annual bonuses for math and science teachers and beginning in 2016, the discontinuation of teacher contracts.

"If we funded education properly we would be in a much better position than we are now and we wouldn't need to create merit pay schemes or take away continuing contracts from teachers," said Mack.

Now with a game plan in place and a goal of 22 thousand signatures, well above the 16 thousand needed, it's a good possibity you'll be seeing a teacher everywhere you turn.

"It's not a matter of if, we will put it on the ballot, and then we'll spend the next several months talking to voters about why we need to defeat this bill," said Mack.

Their deadline is June 18.
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