In light of the alleged mishandling of millions of taxpayer dollars through the GEAR UP program, run by MidCentral Educational Coop, Representative Lance Russell, Hot Springs, has called for Dr. Melody Schopp, Secretary of Education, to resign her position, citing the apparent lack of oversight of how taxpayer dollars are being spent.
The request for her resignation was made public on the same day that Democrats from the legislature started publicly crying foul. Blaming Republicans and one party rule. (Link 1) (Link 2) Are there issues with the establishment Republican party rule in South Dakota? The answer is an emphatic “yes”. There’s only one problem with that cry. I have seen very few Democrats, if any, ever vote against any bill the Department of Education brings. In fact, for the few Republicans who have fought to hold the Department of Education accountable, Democrats along with many Republicans have accused these few of being against education.
A petition calling for Dr. Schopp’s resignation has also been started. The petition makes reference to not only GEAR UP and the recent tragedies in Platte, SD, but to failed and experimental academic programs, depriving South Dakota children of a solid education. You can read and sign the petition here. I encourage you to sign the petition to send a message to the Governor and legislature. Please understand that in asking you to sign this petition, it leads to some questions.
And now we call for one person’s resignation. So, what if she resigns? I am concerned that Melody Schopp will become the scapegoat. If we get one person to resign, does it shut down going much further into looking into the system that is in place?
Where was the legislature when these funds were being mishandled? The legislature is the people’s elected representatives, sent to Pierre, to hold state government accountable. Not rubber stamp everything they ask for.
Who gets to the bottom of the amount of money that’s being spent on the education system and where is it going? The body that has oversight of this, truly has oversight of this, sits in the statehouse in Pierre. The majority of Republicans and Democrats in the legislature have been complicit in allowing this to continue. There have been very few DOE bills that they didn’t like. There isn’t a position that the DOE took they didn’t stand with. Remember, in 2012, at the request of the Department of Education, the legislature approved $8.4 million of your money for professional development for teachers to learn how to teach the experimental, developmentally inappropriate, unproven Common Core Standards with no empirical evidence that the standards will raise student academic achievement.
As I was thinking about all of this, I had to wonder if there would be any difference in education if Melody Schopp does resign. Who would replace Dr. Schopp? If it is an establishment person, someone who believes that Washington bureaucrats know what is best for South Dakota children and teachers, would anything truly change? Given that at the current time, the position of Secretary of Education in South Dakota is Governor appointed with the consent of the Senate, would there truly be any difference in how the department is run? After all, our Governor has affirmed his commitment to moving K-12 education from academics to workforce development so children can be aligned to the needs of the workforce in South Dakota.
If the decision is made for Dr. Schopp to resign, I would like to make a recommendation to Gov. Daugaard with regards to appointing a new Secretary of Education. Jim Bolin.
Jim Bolin has the experience and insight into education in South Dakota and would work to return true local control to K-12 education in South Dakota. He understands that a quality education for our children cannot come from Washington DC. That parents make the best decisions for their children. That teachers, if given the opportunity, know best how to teach our children. That locally elected school boards are closest to parents and teachers and will work to meet the needs of children, parents and teachers in their district.
If you know someone with the qualifications to be Secretary of Education in South Dakota, please leave your suggestions in the comments.