Let us for a moment compare educational goings-on in a couple other states:
- In the midst of the same recession South Dakota is in, New Mexico gave serious consideration to a new funding formula that would have increased state education aid 15%. The biggest increases would have gone to "smaller districts serving the poorest, most rural, communities, those with large percentages of Hispanic and Native American students, and those with high proportions of English Language Learners." The money would have come from increases in the gross receipts tax and income tax. Those measures passed the House before the NM business lobby rallied to kill those ideas in the Senate.
- Another proposal before the New Mexico Legislature would have set a maximum size for new schools built with state money. Still big by SD standards—225 students max for high schools, 60 students max for kindergartens—but an acknowledgment from another state with big rural populations that bigger isn't always better. But South Dakota consolidation pushers, take heart: Think New Mexico, the group who proposed the bill, says the most effective high school size is 600–900 students; the most efficient schools enroll 300–900. The bill passed the Senate but appears to have hung up in the House.
- North to Alaska: In February Judge Sharon Gleason ruled Alaska was failing to fulfill its Constitutional obligation to provide sufficient education to kids in poor rural schools. The judge gave the state 60 days to straighten out that situation... during which time the governor rejected $172 million in federal stimulus assistance for schools... $74 million of which was designated for poor schools and special-needs kids. (You know, special needs kids, the ones the governor promised to advocate for if elected Vice-President. She wasn't elected VP, so I guess she's off the hook.)