Many teachers across the state are breathing a sigh of relief tonight after South Dakota voters turned out to say "No!" to Referred Law 16.
68% of voters rejected Governor Dennis Daugaard's plan to give bonuses to top teachers, phase out tenure and recruit candidates for critical teaching jobs.
The Legislature approved the Republican governor's proposal earlier this year, but the state's main teachers union, the South Dakota Education Association, collected enough signatures to put the measure on the ballot for a public vote.
Daugaard argues the measure will improve student achievement. But opponents contend it could hurt the quality of education because teachers might stop collaborating to help students as they compete for bonus money.
"A good teacher will tell you I'm only a good teacher because of the good teachers around me because they work together and they saw this as a carrot and stick approach where you compete to see who could be the best and it would undermine the collaboration and learning environment of for the students." Said Sandra Waltman, an opponent to Referred Law 16.
The plan would have given annual $5,000 bonuses to the top 20 percent of teachers in each school district and provided scholarships and bonuses to recruit teachers in critical fields. Supporters are hoping the legislature will re-address the issues in the upcoming session.
"It's disappointing because there were some really nice solutions within this law." Said Mitchell Superintendent Joe Graves. "It would help solve some problems with teacher shortages and it would have put $15 Million more into teachers pockets but it's the will of the voters and we'll move on and hopefully address these shortages it in the future."
Opponents to Referred Law 16 captured almost 70% of the votes which shows this was just not the best move for South Dakota to take.
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