Republican Legislators Disapprove of HB 1234, Will Senate Education Committee Follow?

The chorus of Republican legislators signaling opposition to Governor Daugaard’s controversial education agenda keeps growing on the eve of a Senate Education Committee hearing of HB 1234 on Thursday. Will Senators in the Senate Education Committee join the groundswell of Republican opposition or cave to Governor Daugaard’s demands?

A cross-section of their opposition to HB 1234 is below:

Rep. Steve Hickey (R-Sioux Falls)
“Hands down HB1234, the education reform bill, is my least favorite. After much feedback and educator input it is substantially different from it’s original version and I voted for it last week only because the conversation needs to continue on the Senate side. We are assured additional changes will be made which means we’ll see it again in the House. Frankly, if the bill died in the Senate that would be fine with me.”

“Even so, if I had to vote today on the bill in it’s final form I’d vote no. Why? Because this conversation can’t happen in 33 days and the education community needs to be in the mix at the onset (in the same way the medicaid providers were in the middle of the Medicaid Task Force last year).” [voicescarryblog.com, 2.20.12]

Rep. Jim Bolin (R-Canton)
“This plan does not and will not measure up to its claims,” Bolin said. “It will not increase student achievement … and cannot be sustained financially over time.”

Rep. Jim Bolin, R-Canton, called it a “blunder” and a “classic example of a new big government spending program wrapped in a conservative package.” [Rapid City Journal, 2.13.12]

Rep. Patricia Stricherz (R-Madison):
“I don’t see where the students will benefit,” Stricherz said. “I’d rather vote for a proposal that provides strong support for education and allows for the independent success of our students.”

According to Stricherz, her opinion of HB1234 was partly formed after speaking to local school superintendents and teachers and reading e-mails from educators. “The entire aspect of it, they were uncomfortable with the provisions of the bill, and because they were uncomfortable, I was uncomfortable.” [Madison Daily Leader, 2.21.12]

Sen. Larry Rhoden (R-Union Center)
“I would fully support merit pay, but only if God himself was in charge of giving out the money,” said Sen. Larry Rhoden, R-Union Center. “Anything short of that, I don’t know how it’s going to be done.” [Rapid City Journal, 1.22.12]

Sen. Stan Adelstein (R-Rapid City):
“Some parts of the Governor’s plan, I think, are not going to come to pass. The statement about tenure: we don’t really have tenure, we have a continuous contract for our positions. And many of us are very concerned about protecting teachers from being discharged because of personality or on some kind of a whim.” [Black Hills Fox, 2.20.12]

Sen. Jean Hunhoff (R-Yankton)
“I have publicly said that I don’t support merit pay.” [Yankton Press & Dakotan, 2.20.12]

Rep. Nick Moser (R-Yankton)
“I did vote to send it across to the Senate,” he said. “I was on the fence all the way through, and frankly, I still am on the fence.” [Yankton Press & Dakotan, 2.20.12]

Rep. Charles Turbiville (R-Deadwood)
“I cannot imagine trying to run a school on merit pay. I don’t think it can work,” said Rep. Charles Turbiville, R-Deadwood. “Let the superintendents and school boards take care of things like this.” [Rapid City Journal, 1.29.12]

Sen. Tom Nelson (R-Lead) and Rep. Fred Romkema (R-Spearfish)
Sen. Tom Nelson, R-Lead, and Rep. Fred Romkema, R-Spearfish, also said they would vote against the measure as currently proposed. Nelson said singling out one teacher is not ideal, and the performance thresholds for receiving extra pay could encourage teachers to not cooperate with other teachers or share ideas. [Rapid City Journal, 1.29.12]

Rep. Lance Carson (R-Mitchell)
But Carson said he had one primary concern: “Where’s the money coming from and is it sustainable?” [Mitchell Daily Republic, 1.22.12]

Rep. Dean Wink (R-Howes)
“I have some real concerns about the merit pay,” Rep. Dean Wink of Howes said. “I would like merit pay based on objective criteria that everyone can rise to that whether it’s extra schooling or certifications, everyone would have a chance to go after it. I don’t agree with merit pay based on the system proposed at this point.” [Rapid City Journal, 1.22.12]

Sen. Craig Tieszen (R-Rapid City)
Tieszen said he had particular reservations about the merit pay system, citing difficulties he had as Rapid City police chief in objectively identifying his best officers to reward them. [Rapid City Journal, 1.22.12]

Sen. Jim Putnam (R-Armour)
Sen. Jim Putnam, R-Armour, said it isn’t normal to set aside money years ahead of time and it isn’t normal for the Legislature to commit future legislators to spending specific amounts. [Aberdeen American News, 1.10.12]

Rep. Stace Nelson (R-Fulton)
“I have had concerns about the proposal since continuing contracts were mischaracterized as ‘tenure’ and overemphasis was placed on SD having a hard time getting rid of ‘bad teachers’ when no such problem exists… I have not received one correspondence from one educator, one administrator, one school board member, or one parent in my district that is for this bill… Unless the Senate makes some magical changes to the bill, I will remain opposed to it.” [Madvilletimes, 2.19.12]

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