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SF Educators Protest HB 1234

February 11, 2012, 10:01 PM by Hailey Higgins

SF Educators Protest HB 1234
SIOUX FALLS, SD - Sioux Falls educators believe they know what's best for students and it's not HB 1234.

On one of the coldest mornings this winter, close to 100 educators bundle up to send a message they say isn't being heard.

"There appears to be a war on teachers and schools," Sioux Falls Education Association President Deb Merxbauer said

Members of the Sioux Falls Education Association protested outside the Holiday Inn City Centre Saturday, before lawmakers spoke at weekly Legislative Coffee. Among them is Kimberley Jacobson who's wrapping up her final year of teaching after 31 years.

"I am here for all the other struggling teachers that have dedicated themselves to education and now they are going to have some of those rights removed if HB 1234 passes," Jacobson said.

Governor Dennis Daugaard's proposal in HB 1234 would eliminate tenure, give higher pay to new math and science teachers and reward the top 20 percent of educators with a merit pay bonus.

"It provides competition not collaboration and we really want to money put into techniques and strategies that would truly impact student achievement," Merxbauer said.

Merxbauer said the money should be shifted toward teacher training, development and mentoring, as well as tools inside the classroom to help students learn. As teachers, they say they offer the experience lawmakers lack.

"We are the professionals; we are the experts in the classroom. Please listen to us," Merxbauer said.

"We are concerned and we have been contacting our legislators and no, we aren't being heard. They aren't listening," Jacobson said.

And while refusing to stay silent Saturday, the educators hope their voices are finally heard loud and clear in Pierre.

Jacobson agrees more funding needs to go to education, but she says HB 1234 isn't the best thing for teachers and their students.

"We want to work and be part of the solution. This isn't it," Jacobson said.

The teachers are supportive of the evaluation section of the bill. But the educators we spoke with say the system in their district is better than the one outlined in HB 1234.

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