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SD Voters Shut Down Referred Law 16

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Some teachers and education organizations in South Dakota might be resting, rather than protesting after voters shut down Referred Law 16 in the General Election on Tuesday night.

Referred Law 16 was all about Governor Dennis Daugaard's education reform plan to give bonuses to top teachers, phase out tenure and recruit candidates for critical teaching jobs.

Groups such as the South Dakota Education Association said if this had passed, the law would have done more harm than good.

"Many of the components of the bill really weren't addressing the needs of the students," said Waltman.

Sandra Waltman, Director of Communications and Government Relations for the SDEA said Referred Law 16, created a lot of steam throughout the year, but is relieved the law did not pass.

"I think it's always good for South Dakota to have a very robust debate about our public education system and how we can improve on it," said Waltman.

Governor Dennis Daugaard was the main supporter of the law and members of his executive committee, said the outcome of the polls comes with pros and cons.

"Disappointed that his bill failed but really sees the fact that the voters rejected both bills as a sign that the voters of South Dakota are pretty satisfied with the school system that we have the education that our kids are receiving," said Tony Venhuizen, the Governor’s communications director.

Governor Daugaard does not plan to bring the failed reform back next year, but will look at alternative ways to better the education system.

Although Daugaard's bill failed, he was pleased to see Initiated Measure 15 fail, which was a state sales tax increase, supporting K-12 Public Education and Medicaid.

For Waltman, she said there's different ways to improve student achievement and the SDEA's next goal is to continue to explore that.

"We look forward to continuing our work advocating for schools, advocating for the students and making sure that students and teachers have the resources they need in the classroom," said Waltman.

She also said the teachers who were against Referred Law 16 are just happy to be back in the classroom, with fewer worries now that the law failed.

Governor Dennis Daugaard and his team are busy working on different ways to approach education, to present at the next legislative session.
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