Three Wishes for Educators and Students
The beginning of the school year is always filled with excitement and anticipation. Educators are hopeful that the new year will bring much success for their students but are clear-eyed about the many challenges that exist. As your President, I too am hopeful for a successful school year, and I bring you three wishes to help you achieve your goals.
First, we hope that every student has a qualified and caring adult in the classroom. Unfortunately, like other states, we are experiencing a teacher shortage. This means that some schools started the school year with open positions. While they are doing their best to fill these vacancies, some class sizes are larger, some elective courses are not offered and many of you are taking on more work. The Associated School Board of South Dakota reported 256 open teaching positions on August 1st. That doesn’t even include the open positions for paraprofessionals, bus drivers, school lunch workers, and buildings and grounds staff. Every position in a school is vital in providing the great education that every student deserves.
As your President, I will be spending time traveling the state visiting schools collecting your stories about how the shortage is impacting you, your colleagues, and the students you serve. I will also be hitting the road to talk with state lawmakers about the importance of ensuring our schools have the funding necessary for schools to recruit and retain qualified and caring adults for every position in a school building.
Second, we hope every student has the freedom to learn and every teacher has the autonomy in their classroom that allows them to meet their students where they are. It’s time for the politicians to remove the ‘politics’ from the classroom and let educators get back to doing what they do best. Students must be taught a full and accurate history to ensure that we don’t repeat the mistakes of the past and build a better future for all. From the state house to your local school board meetings, SDEA will be there standing beside our members and with parents and community leaders to bring common sense back to our schools by putting the needs of students ahead of politics.
Finally, I hope for a healthy and safe school year. This means ensuring that schools have the resources and personnel to ensure that your building is environmentally safe and free from disruptive student behaviors. As a state, we must do more to address school safety issues. I am looking forward to working with the SDEA Health and Safety committee to develop solutions that can be implemented at both the state and local levels.
I am truly hopeful that this new school year will be a successful one for all. As always thank you for everything that you do. You do amazing work for the students of South Dakota.