Bill could bring more teachers to reservations

2012-02-18T07:30:00Z Bill could bring more teachers to reservationsRuth Moon Journal staff Rapid City Journal
February 18, 2012 7:30 am  • 

A bill that would use state funds to double the size of a teaching program on the Pine Ridge and Rosebud reservations is moving through the South Dakota Legislature.

Senate Bill 139 would appropriate state funds to the Department of Education to bring in more teachers through the Teach for America program, which recruits graduating college students to teach for two years in low-income urban and rural schools in the U.S.

Fifty-five Teach for America recruits now teach in South Dakota on or near the reservations. The bill would provide funds for Teach for America to expand that number to 100 by 2015.

Phyllis Heineman, R-Sioux Falls, who sponsored the bill, said there is only one applicant for each empty teaching position on South Dakota's Native American reservations, and increasing the Teach for America corps in the state would ensure every classroom has a teacher.

The bill allocates $1 million to Teach for America to be granted over four years so the program can bring more teachers to the state. The dollar amount will be amended before the final version passes, Heineman said.

Heineman wanted to appropriate $1.5 million for the program to be used if private donors matched the funds. Teach for America has said it will take $5 million to bring in nearly 50 additional teachers and plans to do that over the next four years, Heineman said.

Jim Bradford, D-Pine Ridge, said Native American children need support but that boosting the Teach for America program is not the best way to provide it. Instead, the state should allocate funds to train and pay local teachers, he said.

"We have a lot of students in college right now who are willing to be teachers who are probably going to not be able to finish because they can't afford it," Bradford said. "There's still a lot of expense to going to school and being a teacher."

Bradford voted for the bill and said that if he did not, his constituents would be upset.

"I'm not against giving them something and helping them some, but I'd just like to see it. I'd like to see us sufficiently fund our teachers right now," he said.

The bill passed the Senate 29-3 and is now in the House Education Committee.

Contact Ruth Moon at 394-8415 or



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(4) Comments

  1. wayawa
    Report Abuse
    wayawa - February 18, 2012 7:08 pm
    In response to TrustNo1, state and federal funds should be appropriated to fund teacher training programs that prepare SD Native American and SD non Native residents who are interested in teaching on the reservations of SD. Why not train and employ our own unemployed SD residents? We do not need to recruit across America for trainees to fund with SD dollars. Also, Indian children need to see educated, professional Indian role models in their schools and classrooms everyday. There are many benefits as you will see!
  2. trustno1
    Report Abuse
    trustno1 - February 18, 2012 3:04 pm
    wayawa said: "Why pay outsiders to teach our native children? We need to support our own SD teachers and students here in SD! "

    What has kept you from doing that?
  3. wayawa
    Report Abuse
    wayawa - February 18, 2012 10:58 am
    Why pay outsiders to teach our native children? There are all kinds of problems when teachers do not understand the culture, values and language on our reservations. We have enough of this going on now with teachers working on the reservation now who come to the reservations from the cities because they can not get a job off the reservation. Schools on the reservation are under-funded, but required to hire certified teachers so they have no choice but to hire them. I agree with Senator Bradford, the state and federal government must appropriate funds to grow our own teachers on and off the reservations. This is the only way we are going to gain proficient, qualified teachers who are going to stay in SD and teach even with lower teaching salaries that SD pays. On the reservations, we have not seen this success with Teach for America student teachers. I believe this program is providing educational experiences and training for these student teachers, but there is little or no benefit to our students and schools. We need to support our own SD teachers and students here in SD!
  4. If you say so
    Report Abuse
    If you say so - February 18, 2012 9:26 am
    OK, we all agree that children need to be taught. But why is a state responsible for the education of the children of a soverign nation in their nation? You can't have this soverign nation stuff both ways.
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