Nice of Dennis Daugaard to rejoin the local-control chorus. His just-released education plan includes a promise to repeal the 100-student minimum and forced consolidation imposed on South Dakota's small school disticts. (Munsterman lives!)
Forced consolidation came to us courtesy of our Republican-controlled State Legislature in the form of House Bill 1082, signed into law by Daugaard's boss, Governor M. Michael Rounds, in 2007. But this isn't a purely partisan issue. Two of my favorite Republicans, Kristi Noem and Russell Olson, voted against HB 1082 in an earlier form when the minimum district size was 130. Alas, they jumped in to vote aye with most of their State House colleagues once the minimum was cut to 100.
Plus, Daugaard's opponent in the gubernatorial race, Democratic Senator Scott Heidepriem, and fellow prominent Dems Jerstad, Turbak Berry, and Nesselhuf supported HB 1082.
Another remarkable assertion of local control in education on Daugaard's part is his vow to repeal restrictions on reserve accounts. Daugaard deems it "unfortunate" that school reserves have become a political football over the years." One of the main players punting that football around was his boss, the Governor.
I am pleased to see the Republican in the race get back to Republican principles on local control. But on at least these two issues, Daugaard is certainly running away from positions his boss has supported over the last eight years.
Bonus—This Is Only a Test: Unfortunately, Daugaard also calls for establishing more standardized exams, particularly in math and science. We're already spending $5 million at the state level on tests; couldn't we drop all the bubble-filling and direct that money toward useful teaching and learning experiences?
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