Immediate Release: Wednesday, August 19, 2015

South Dakota Democrat Legislators Call for Increased Teacher Pay at South Dakota Blue Ribbon Task Force Meeting

Pierre, SD (August 19, 2015)- Democrat Members of the South Dakota Legislature highlighted the importance of increasing teacher pay in South Dakota at Wednesday’s Blue Ribbon Task Force Meeting in Pierre. Democrat Legislators on the Task Force, Representative Paula Hawks of Hartford, Senator Troy Heinert of Mission, and Senator Billie Sutton of Burke, called on other Legislators to recognize the impact low teacher salaries have on education in South Dakota and South Dakota’s teacher shortage.

At Wednesday’s meeting, statistical data was provided showing that public sentiment in South Dakota supports the increase in teacher pay advocated for by South Dakota Democrats long before the Governor’s Blue Ribbon Task Force was established. Senator Billie Sutton presented Task Force members with survey results showing 77 percent of South Dakota voters believe South Dakota teachers are doing an excellent or good job and 79 percent of South Dakota voters believe teacher pay in South Dakota public schools is inadequate. Senator Sutton says, “The voters agree; teacher pay is falling far short.  We have an obligation to support our schools, teachers and, most importantly, support our students.  Every student needs a great classroom teacher and many will not have that if South Dakota fails to address the issue of pay.”

Representative Paula Hawks, a former teacher and mother of three, says, “South Dakota cannot continue to attract and retain quality teachers to educate our children when our teacher pay ranks last in the Nation. When our teachers suffer, our children suffer. And when our children suffer, our entire State suffers. South Dakota can do better than this, and I am hopeful that the efforts of the Task Force will result in solutions, not just more empty promises to educators and our children.”