Task Force: Education Funding Is Not About Standards, Curriculum or Assessments

This morning, the following email was sent to all South Dakota Legislators  from Tony Venhuizen, Chief of Staff to Gov. Daugaard, on behalf of Sen. Deb Soholt and Rep. Jacqueline Sly, Co-Chairs of the Blue Ribbon Task Force.

From: “Venhuizen, Tony” <Tony.Venhuizen@state.sd.us>
Date: Jun 2, 2015 9:03 AM
Subject: Legislator Blue Ribbon Message
To: “Deb Soholt” <DSoholt@sio.midco.net>, “Jacqueline Sly” <jsly@q.com>
Cc: “Schopp, Melody (DOE)” <Melody.Schopp@state.sd.us>
Legislators – I am sending this email on behalf of Blue Ribbon Co-Chairs Soholt and Sly.  thv
 TO: South Dakota Legislators
 FROM: Senator Deb Soholt & Representative Jacque Sly
Co-Chairs, Blue Ribbon Task Force for Education Funding Reform
RE: Public Listening Sessions – Blue Ribbon
Greetings to our Legislative Colleagues!

We have the privilege of co-chairing the Blue Ribbon Task Force on K-12 Teachers and Students to reevaluate the current funding formula, collect and analyze data, engage with stakeholders and seek public input.  We will then make recommendations to the 2016 Legislature for reform.

With the focus on solely on education funding and teacher pipeline, we will not be considering standards/curriculum, assessments, student achievement etc.

The Technology and Innovation in Education (TIE) group is helping with overall facilitation for the effort (as when PEW assisted with criminal justice and juvenile justice reform).

We want to update you on the status of the work, and invite you to come to scheduled meetings to listen/observe public input.

Follow Progress:  http://blueribbon.sd.gov/

 Phase 1    March – June
  • Seeking information from the public
  • Listening sessions with the public and with individual groups
  • Collect that feedback
  • Synthesize feedback into a report
  • Appoint stakeholder members of the task force
During Phase 1 we have been considering the following question:
What possibilities exist to meaningfully fund education for our kids and our communities?
We’ve already met with:  SDEA, State PTA, Technology in Education (TIE), Associated School Boards (ASBSD), SD Elementary Principals, and NE Superintendents.  Now we’ll be listening in 6 communities and having 3 sessions each time with teachers, business community and the public.  Find meeting times/locations on the blueribbon.sd.gov site.
June 2 –  Chamberlain
June 3 –  Rapid City
June 16 – Sioux Falls
June 17 – Yankton
June 22 – Watertown
June 23 – Aberdeen
As legislators you are invited to come to these sessions and observe/listen to the input.  We are using a very participative method, and ask that legislators not be part of the group – but observers and supporters of the work.  We are wanting this phase to be hearing specific stakeholder groups outside of the legislature.
 Phase 2    July – August
  • Task force will meet to analyze and consider data
 Phase 3    September – October
  • Make recommendations
  • Research and policy changes for the funding of SD K-12 system
  • Issue a final report as a task force
 Thanks for following our progress on blueribbon.sd.gov and connect with us as needed.
We appreciate your support for this very important issue for the successful future of South Dakota!


I do want to share some of my concerns with my email.

I don’t know how you discuss education funding without discussing the Common Core, assessments and federal mandates for which the South Dakota Department of Education has become the enforcement arm.

I don’t know how you discuss the teacher pipeline without discussing the Common Core and its underlying message that we can’t trust teachers to teach. I don’t know one teacher who went into teaching to create data points and spend their days doing test prep. Will they look at this as contributing to the the teacher shortage?

Please remember that at the same time, schools were being forced to take cuts, teacher salaries were either frozen or cut, the state chose to adopt unproven content standards which required professional development for teachers to learn an unproven pedagogy.

And what an affront to legislators. To be asked not to participate and to support the work of this panel. What if there is a disagreement? I wasn’t aware that we elected representatives to support the vision of a governor appointed panel.

And those stakeholders the panel is working with, here’s a little on those organizations.

South Dakota PTA – We know the national PTA has accepted funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to promote the Common Core. (Link 1) (Link 2)

SDEA South Dakota Education Association  – We know that the NEA (National Education Association has accepted funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to, among other things, develop Common Core aligned curriculum. (Link 3) The SDEA is one of the organizations that works very hard legislatively to prevent the repeal or defunding of the Common Core.  (Link 4)

TIE Technology & Innovation in Education – This organization is the South Dakota arm of mass customized learning, the program where students spend their time with an electronic device guiding their learning vs. a teacher guiding their learning. They have partnered with the SD Department of Education.

ASBSD Associated School Boards of South Dakota – This organization is also very busy legislatively blocking the removal of the Common Core Standards and testing. The National School Board Association has accepted Gates Foundation Grant money. (Link 5) (Link 6)

SASD School Administrators of South Dakota – This organization is comprised of Elementary and Secondary Principals and Superintendents. This organization works very hard to block legislation removing the Common Core and the testing.

Blue Ribbon Task Force Schedule


One thought on “Task Force: Education Funding Is Not About Standards, Curriculum or Assessments

  1. Pingback: Some Thoughts from a Blue Ribbon Attendee | South Dakotans Against Common Core

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