Skip Navigation
We use cookies to offer you a better browsing experience, provide ads, analyze site traffic, and personalize content. If you continue to use this site, you consent to our use of cookies.
From Our President

Having a Seat at the Table

One of the things I enjoy about being your President is the opportunity to travel the state meeting members in their schools and classrooms. I am always in awe of the work you do day in and day out.
Loren Paul
Loren Paul
Published: March 8, 2024

We just wrapped up the legislative session that concluded with lawmakers increasing education funding by four percent and passing legislation for teacher compensation accountability. SDEA was very involved in shaping both decisions because we consciously decided to reach out to lawmakers in a bipartisan way. This past fall, we hit the road and met with leadership from both chambers and parties. We drove hundreds of miles and had lots of coffee with education committee members. Our goal was to find where we had common ground and could work together, including stopping vouchers, increasing state aid to education, and accountability for teacher pay.

As the session began, leaders invited the SDEA lobby team to several meetings about the accountability bill where we could speak frankly about concerns. We also worked with the House Leadership to head off efforts to revive a very expensive voucher bill and with our allies to block legislation to make the reduction in the state’s sales tax permanent. Our decision to reach out in a bipartisan way had results, and it meant SDEA finally had a seat at the table.

That doesn’t mean we got everything we wanted. Legislation requiring four certified educators to be on the South Dakota Board of Education Standards quickly ended. Four bills to address child hunger and nutrition failed, and we saw the expansion of the Insurance Premium Tax Credit program, a voucher program in disguise. Yes, we are disappointed that we weren’t successful on these issues, but we hope to use our seat at the table to make incremental changes. We took an important step, but we still have work to do.

The first task is to help our members understand the new accountability for teacher pay. In a nutshell, SB 127 sets a state minimum teacher salary of $45,000 and requires school districts to increase average teacher compensation at the same rate as the increase to the state aid to education. There is some flexibility for districts along with a waiver process. Watch for future Educators Advocates for more information, but know that this bill will positively impact teacher compensation in the long run. You can also 
learn more at the SDEA RA, April 5–6.

Speaking of the SDEA RA, this event is an opportunity for you to have your seat at the table as an RA delegate from your local association. It’s an opportunity for you to get input on the work of the SDEA. Members drive the decisions of the Association. During the two-day event, members set the priorities for the coming year and adopt the 2025 legislative agenda and Association budget. Delegates network with educators from across the state and can meet our leadership team and staff. Please consider attending. We need your voice.

Finally, as we head into spring, you are looking forward to the end of the year. Know that I truly appreciate everything you do for our students and the Association. You are almost to the finish line. You are doing great work, and as always, your Association is here for you. Know that you will always have a seat at our table.


It's about our kids.

The South Dakota Education Association (SDEA) is a professional organization working hard for educators, so they can continue to work hard for our kids. SDEA members provide a wide range of professional education services in communities throughout the state.