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Educators Submit Petitions Opposing Reform Law

June 18, 2012, 6:00 PM by Erich Schaffhauser

Educators Submit Petitions Opposing Reform Law

The state's teachers' union submitted an estimated 30,000 signatures protesting the education reform bill Monday.
That's nearly double the number needed to send House Bill 1234 to the November ballot.

It'll be a couple weeks before the Secretary of State's office will know if there are enough valid signatures on the petition. But given they handed in so many, educators who delivered it to Pierre are optimistic. They say they are gearing up to get their side out to the public between now and November.

"From the very beginning of the session, we said there were things in that bill that we just don't feel accomplish what we need to do here in South Dakota," South Dakota Education Association President Sandy Arseneault said.

And changes legislators made to the bill from when it was originally introduced weren't enough Arseneault said. She says the teacher evaluation portion of the bill and volume of student testing are concerning.

"It affects every school district in the state. And I think it's going to have a very negative effect all throughout the state," Flandreau teacher Susan Sigdestad said.

That is why, with 30,000 signatures sitting in the Secretary of State's office opposing the law, Sigdestad joined other educators Monday leaving the capitol building pleased.

But now is the time, Sigdestad says, the real work begins.

"To inform everybody to let them know every little part of this bill and how it does not work for our students," Sigdestad said.

"We need to all be focused on why we're really here and that is to approve student achievement," Arseneault said.

The governor argues the law is aimed at improving student achievement. In a statement released Monday, he said it does so by channeling extra money to good teachers and phasing out teacher tenure.

The governor also said he looks forward to furthering the discussion with people in South Dakota regarding this topic.

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