South Dakota public schools to oppose ‘school choice’

November 10, 2017

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — South Dakota’s public schools want to shut down “school choice” discussions in the state before they begin.

Statewide public school groups are preparing to oppose bills that would expand school choice more than two months before legislators convene in Pierre for the 2018 session, the Argus Leader reported .

The Associated School Board of South Dakota added the new resolution to its priorities this year in response to U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, said Todd Thoelke, president of the group and member of the Sioux Falls school board. The U.S. Education Department plans to increase spending for charter schools and voucher programs under DeVos, who is a vocal advocate for school choice.

“It’s a scary road to go down,” Thoelke said.

He and other Sioux Falls school board members met Wednesday to look at legislative priorities for both the Associated School Board of South Dakota and the Large School Group, an organization that lobbies for public schools.

In addition to opposing using federal funds to expand school choice, the groups also gave early support to an effort to repeal the state’s existing school choice program. State lawmakers approved a program last year that diverts tax dollars to cover private school tuition in the form of sizable tax credits for insurance companies who give money for private school scholarships.

It’s unclear whether state legislators will take on school choice expansion. But Thoelke said that won’t stop schools from getting ahead of the issue.

“It’s going to be really interesting to see who shows up in Pierre,” he said. “Either they’re being really quiet, or we’ll see a group that comes ready to fight.”


Information from: Argus Leader, http://www.argusleader.com

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