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Obama Talks About Education's Importance

January 26, 2011, 5:04 PM by Katie Janssen

Obama Talks About Education's Importance
HARTFORD, SD - In his State of the Union address, President Obama talked about the importance of education, investing in schools and raised expectations in the classroom. He even called for 100,000 more science and technology teachers in the next 10 years.

But in South Dakota, education is looking at drastic cuts that threaten teachers and programs, and local educators see a disparity between what the president said and what they may be facing if the cuts go through.

President Obama spoke of the responsibility we all share when it comes to children's education. He called on teachers and parents to encourage success, but local administrators say that'll be difficult to do if education is cut by 10 percent.

"It is frustrating to be encouraged at the federal level and maybe discouraged at the state level," Superintendent Jeff Danielsen of West Central said.

Danielsen says districts do the best they can to give a good education. West Central is integrating technology into every classroom with Promethean boards and laptops for high schoolers. But he considers it an investment.

"The more technology we put in front of them, the better able they'll be later on in life to adapt," he said.

At West Central a 10 percent cut would equal $636,000. Danielsen says the board hasn't gone so far as to make an actual plan, but they do know what those cuts might be if they come to fruition.

"It'll look different at each school district, but it's simply going to mean people and programs,” Danielsen said. “The problem is, with no guarantees down the road, if you have people and programs no longer there, you don't have those people or programs."

Danielsen says it chips away at a school’s foundation. While getting rid of a program is possible, it also means getting rid of a teacher, and when it's time to reinstate that program, that qualified teacher is gone.

"The fewer cuts all at once for any school district is going to be better,” Danielsen said. “It allows you to have more flexibility in how you deal with the landscape of less money."

Danielsen hopes lawmakers will come up with a new plan for schools, so cuts can be made gradually.

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