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News, notes, and observations from the James River Valley in northern South Dakota with special attention to reviewing the performance of the media--old and new. E-Mail to

Thursday, August 18, 2022

When kids go to school and no teacher is there

The shortage of teachers has causes that are deeply engrained in our culture.   A Washington Post article outlines the many causes:

...pandemic-induced teacher exhaustion, low pay and some educators’ sense that politicians and parents — and sometimes their own school board members — have little respect for their profession amid an escalating educational culture war that has seen many districts and states pass policies and laws restricting what teachers can say about U.S. history, race, racism, gender and sexual orientation, as well as LGBTQ issues.

As we near the beginning of a new school year, there are news stories of districts scrambling to fill teaching vacancies.  At the beginning of the month, South Dakota still had 300 positions to fill.  A number of internet sources that track teacher staffing are reporting shortages with no prospect in sight for relieving them.  Schools of education are not producing enough graduates to fill the vacancies, so panicky measures with no regard for training and qualifications are being taken to get someone in the classrooms when the students arrive.  The Florida governor is trying to supplant the teachers with military veterans who have no training in education, in some cases very little education.  That act is evidence of how education is a negligible priority in the exercise of political power. 

South Dakota's shortage of teachers has gotten the attention of national media

South Dakota has long faced a teacher shortage due in part to low salaries and large class sizes, but a new factor seems to be worsening the problem: politicization of education, South Dakota News Watch reports.

The politicization of education actually has been taking place for a long time.  We are feeling the effects of it now.  Some years ago experienced teachers who were friends of mine were advising their children not to go into education for the reasons listed in the sentence above.  The Governor, whose college degree is questionable, has commissioned Hillsdale College, a bastion of conservative anti-intellectualism, to write a set of standards for teaching social studies, as if social studies teachers or the colleges from which they obtained their degrees or the schools they work in have never considered how effective teaching is done or been exposed to what the subject matter entails.   The Daily Beast details the political intrusions into education in South Dakota:

State officials are taking a more hands-on approach to education—recently, lawmakers have tried to regulate the treatment of transgender students, the state DOE removed references to Native American culture in social studies guidelines, and the governor banned critical race theory, even though it is not taught in public schools. Parental presence is also increasing, and some educators have faced criticism about their classroom decorations. The state’s secretary of education said there are programs to help recruit and retain teachers, but some education experts fear that the K-12 system may begin to unravel due to the heightened micromanagement of teachers

The news makes clear that the political interference is eliminating education and replacing it with indoctrination in our schools.   There is a national shortage of teachers, as people who would become teachers realize that they will not be allowed to educate in many schools.  Politicization is displacing education as the dominant principle in the management of our schools.  People who value true education cannot and will not teach under political dictatorships.  That unraveling of the education system that is so feared is well on its way.  Competent teachers will go to where they can teach, and that is not the South Dakota of Kristi Noem.


Jerry K. Sweeney said...

The link to material regarding the questionable academic credentials of Governor Noem does not go to where you think it does.

David Newquist said...

Thanks. I corrected it, I think.

Jerry K. Sweeney said...

You did so. Thank you.

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Aberdeen, South Dakota, United States