By Dr. Melody Schopp
Department of Education
A conversation about the future
As you are well aware, the governor’s education proposal has stirred heated conversation across the state. No matter where you stand on the issue, I believe it’s critical that we have a serious discussion about the future of education in South Dakota. And I commend the governor for his courage and commitment to initiating this public conversation.
With the introduction of HB 1234, a door has been opened, a conversation has been started, and as an education community, we are at a significant crossroads. We can take this opportunity to work through the issues and find solutions that allow us to continue to positively impact the children and communities we serve, or we can try to shut the door.
From my perspective, there appears to be significant political will for change. There also is a willingness to listen. The governor has indicated his openness to new ideas – he has said many times that his is “a plan,” not “the plan.” And, in fact, the department and Governor’s Office have been having conversations with many of you and your lobbyists in Pierre to talk about ideas that have arisen as a result of this statewide conversation.
While this legislative conversation is the focus of much of our efforts right now, the department continues to forge ahead with implementation of the Common Core. As you recall, the governor has called for $8.4 million for training efforts related to Common Core and evaluation of teachers using the new state standards (the Danielson framework). We also are moving forward in pursuing relief from some of the tenets of No Child Left Behind with our federal flexibility waiver.
All of these pieces are coming together at one time, which makes this a very exciting and challenging time for the education field. I am confident that, as a K-12 system, we will rise to the challenges and continue to serve the young people of this state in a professional and caring manner – with an eye to the ultimate goal of preparing students who are college, career and life ready.