Billion's Education plan.. It might not cost quite a billion, but I'll bet it's several million

In the campaign for Governor, Democrat Jack Billion is talking about adding dollars to education. And in this article from the Argus Leader's website, he has no idea how much:
Billion said he and running mate Eric Abrahamson, who are challenging Republican Gov. Mike Rounds, propose revamping the system, beginning with preschool.

"South Dakota is one of 12 states without a preschool education program," Billion said. "That is absolutely a tragedy."

Other proposals involve increasing teacher salaries, auditing state government spending for additional funding, and increasing funding for scholarships.

"Our pledge is, we will bring teachers salaries up to a competitive level, up to the average of the surrounding states within our first term," Billion said.

and...

Billion said he wants to expand long-distance learning technology and help rural school districts share services. He also wants to improve scholarship funding for state schools, saying South Dakota contributes $12 per student, compared with $161 per student in Iowa and $246 per student in Minnesota.

Billion did not have a dollar amount for what his proposals would cost the state, but he said improving South Dakota's economy would allow for increased education funding.

Read it all here.

So, for starters, he wants to vastly raise the average salaries of South Dakota teachers. I agree it's a noble goal, but I'm enough of a realist to want to know the price tag on it.

Then on scholarships, if we go to the level of our neighbor, we'd be increasing scholarship funding about $150 per student. And don't forget that we want to add to the cost with a preschool education program, and expand long-distance learning technology.

As you can see, Jack is full of "great" ideas. But he doesn't know what it will cost? Isn't that a bit, irresponsible?

Shouldn't that be the first order of business for someone who wants to lead South Dakota Government? To have at least a clue of what the price tag would be for his proposals?

It's like saying I want to build a South Dakota spaceport. It will prepare us for the future and invest our economy into aerospace. But if the thing costs taxpayers $250 million in the first year, it might not be the smart thing to do at the moment.

So, as far I'm concerned over what Billion is saying, he's laid out the first half of his education proposal. "The good news," so to speak.

Now let's hear the bad news - what it will cost.

Comments

Anonymous said…
Gov't funded preschool? Why not take a baby at birth and put him in a gov't funded daycare and the parents don't have to care for that child at all during the day five days a week. All working parents would love this deal because it would eliminate a large cost of daycare.

Since when is it the government's responsibility to take care of a child or educate him from birth? Why not let kids be kids until kindergarten and why not let the parents shoulder their rightful responsibility until that age?
Anonymous said…
We have around 8900 certified teachers. Let's take their current average at $34,000 and give them a $6,000 raise to $40,000. That would cost an extra 53.4 million/year. These proposals are all the same; adding huge expenses and paying for them by either reserves or cutting all this "other" growth. For once tell us specifically what you are going to cut and specifically how much and from what reserves are you going to take from.
How many of his proposals call for drastically more money?
Fully funding education, property tax relief for drought, healthcare for all South Dakotan's, teacher pay, more scholarships for students and I'm sure there is more. If Billion won't give us estimates on the cost, I challenge all you fellow bloggers to come up with our own estimates based on the information he has given.
Anonymous said…
While Billion is making promises and willing to write checks he can't cash, why doesn't he promise free higher education to all SD residents who attend SD higher ed schools......what I am sorry I didn't hear you....there would not be any money to support that......oh exactly! Just like what he wants to do now.
Anonymous said…
Yeah. It's going to have price tag. And, you can either find someone willing to committ to getting South Dakota out of the cellar (ranked last in state contribution to education), or you have someone that won't do anything at all about it.

Dems had a bill in last year that would have funded 100 million to education - without raising taxes. Just tighten the belt elsewhere in the state budget. Oh, and remember, there was an exception for medicaid.

Why did South Dakota not make adequate yearly progress on NCLB. Why aren't we improving as a state.

At some point, money does matter.

No one's asking to be at 10,000 per kid... just pull us out of the basement... own up to your responsibility to our children.

If you want to increase the Attorney General's budget by 134%, raise taxes to support THAT. If you want to increase government spending 19% while holding schools to 2.6% increases, raise taxes to pay for the 19% in other areas.

You know... maybe republicans are scared about the long-term effects of education - the only way to ensure Rs keep getting elected is to keep the masses uneducated.

After all - everyone has a right to an education... as long as you're a white, middle-to-upper class kid with two parents and a nice roof over your head.
Anonymous said…
Mandated government-funded pre-school! And Big-labor Bob Stevens at the helm. Reason enough to keep Billion in retirement.
Anonymous said…
Oh no! Not preschool!

We in South Dakota's Republican government don't want to give kids an early start with learning and help working parents save money on daycare at the same time.

Maybe if Tom Rounds/Jamie Rounds get an exclusive contract to run all preschools in SD we can make it happen.
Anonymous said…
There are lots of outstanding, privately owned pre-schools out there already. Why does the state need to get its' nose into that business too? I'm still of the belief that private enterprise will outperform anything the government (especially federal) gets its' fingers into.

And by the way, one of the Governor's 2010E initiatives did involve preschool, it's not something Billion just discovered.
Anonymous said…
Oh the squeaky wallets of people in South Dakota. He is not suggesting anything wild or revolutionary. He is suggesting we finally get up to speed with the rest of the country. Everyone has become used to underfunding education and it is eroding the state. Students leave to go to college or the leave after HS or college never to return. Not turning out kids that achieve their full potential because we are tightwads makes it harder for those kids to compete for competitive slots in higher education and the lack of highly skilled in state people slows down the economy here.

Most states that do state funded pre-school do not make it mandatory. You can opt to not send your kids or send them to private school.

Just remember next time you see those under cared for welfare kids at walmart that a decent start on a good education might be the difference between a useful smart member of society and another generation of mouth breathing white trash walmart shoppers.
Anonymous said…
To those of you who support Billion's plan: Fine. Education could be better. We need to get out of the cellar. OK - we get it.

But how is Jack going to pay for it?

Don't you think he should tell us this? It is EASY to spend the money - it's HARD to find the money.

The Democratic bill last session had the same problem - they didn't identify any cuts.

If Jack wants people to take his candidacy seriously, he needs to step up to the plate: tell us what it will cost, and tell us how you're going to pay for it. The people of South Dakota are smart enough to consider serious proposals, but not wish lists.
Anonymous said…
Why is this a surprise? Billion keeps talking about all kinds of pie-in-the-sky stuff that sounds good, but has no concrete ideas on how to foot the bill...at least none he will talk about. And, Anon 4:29, so typical of the liberal elitists. "white trash walmart shoppers??" There are many people who are far from "white trash" who shop at WalMart and other discount stores because they don't frivilously spend money on the things you, as an elitist snob, have no trouble paying for.
Anonymous said…
how in the world does he think this is going to happen? we can use all of our reserves for the first term of his office, and the second term- state income tax. go billion.
nonnie said…
4:29. You really have some attitude toward others! Or maybe you are just having a bad day? That statement says more about you than it does anything else, and it's nothing good.
nonnie said…
And I still say that there has to be an element of responsibility when you have kids. It's not up to the gov't to raise your kids from birth on, it's up to you. If we don't have enough money to fund the education we have now in the manner people want, why add another taxpayer funded layer to education?
Anonymous said…
Anon 10:59 how will just giving teachers a raise make our kids smarter?

The goal is not to have the best paid teachers...the goal is to produce the best educated children...and from some reports SD is doing pretty well in that area.

I say let's raise teacher pay and institute a merit pay system and strict accountability standards. Let's also revamp educational standards for teachers. There are alot of non-educators who are really well educated and want to teach. Let's bring them into the system to compete with our current school educated teachers.

Also, let's totally change how we fund education. South Dakota should institute a real voucher system. This way public schools will have to compete with private shcools for our dollars. The increase in competition will force schools and the educators inside of them to produce a quality education or they will suffer the same fate that liberals currently say our current schools are facing.
Anonymous said…
Can anyone tell me how many merit scholars there were from O'Gorman last year and from Lincoln High?

I can't but I would like to know whether kids from private schools in SD are doing better than kids in government schools.

Also, how much does it cost to educate a child in private v. government in SD?

I do know that the only high school in SD last year the recieved the Education Blue Ribbon award given out by the government was O'Gorman. We need to look at how they are doing things and replicate them in the public system.

I will not sit back and wait for the hacks to tear apart O'Gorman. Look they are doing something right and public schools should works towards emulating them now tearing them down. But we will see if that is the case or if this is all about politics for liberals.
Anonymous said…
Anon 12:17:

Here is why the education establishment is not taken seriously in SD:

1) the ed est. constantly blames the majority party instead of working with them.

2) The teachers foundation constantly supports libs in its races.

3) you are tied to the misguided beleif that competition has no place in government schools.

4) The only alternative ever put forward is more money.

5) Schools like Beresford hire 12 Assistant coaches then go the public for an opt out in order to keep them on the payroll.

6) The ed establishment hates the idea of merit pay and having to compete for dollars. The parents of the kids you teach have to compete for dollars why can't you at least subject teachers to some type of merit pay system?

7) Failure to admit that more money does not equal better performance in terms of dollars per student spent.

Here's the solution quit bitching about Republicans and start supporting them. They are the major party and if you want get something done work with them instead of against them.

It's not that the R establishment is opposed to education. It's that we can't trust folks like you with our tax dollars.
Anonymous said…
Support Republicans? That's not going to make them want to help improve education. Any time there's budget discussion in this country, Republicans try to cut funding for education.

Not only do they not want to fund education, but they come up with stupid ideas like No Child Left Behind. Is it any wonder why teachers don't support them?

Supporting the power-hungry, do-nothing Republicans who are in charge of this country is not the answer. They'll just gut education until all the children of this country don't know what 2 + 2 is.
Anonymous said…
Before you criticize NCLB, remember that Kennedy et al were also behind this bill big time. It wasn't simply a Republican idea.
Anonymous said…
Anon 9:54

Yes... merit pay for all. For state government employees, too. No more blanket 3% raises for them, either. Every state employee with have to set out clearly defined, measurable goals that prove they are doing their job.

The Attorney Generals office must reduce all crime by 9%, and all sub categories of crime by 9%, and if they do, they will get their raise.

The Department of Health will ensure that the onset of all disease goes down by 4%, including all sub groups of disases, or no one gets raises.

Oh... and how about Legislators? They don't get paid unless the carry a bill through the entire process. Only the effective one's get paid.

Yes yes yes. Merit pay makes perfect sense. Merit pay for everyone.
Anonymous said…
You're right it is a democrat idea, the difference would be that the Kennedy Ad. would have funded it. Republicans like education, they just want to have the local level pay for it so they can continue to say,"we didn't raise taxes".We're not raising your taxes in Pierre, we're forcing you into an opt out.
Anonymous said…
Voucher schools?

Yes... did you know O'Gorman spends more than 6500 per student? 6500 per student, and their high school only has 400 students.

Here's why the tired argument about vochers is getting old.

Study after study, even ones put out by the federal department of ed, suggest that private and voucher schools do not outperform public schools.

Simply put, private schools don't have to take everyone through their doors - they get kids with stable families, more resources and less physical and mental challenges.

Public schools have a different mission - all children receive a high quality education.

Also, the tired excuse that money doesn't matter - it's simply not true, and simply not supported by research. There is clear evidence that efforts to introduce professional development, recruit and retain teachers, reduce class size and implement programs for poverty children all increase student achievement. In those areas, money matters - its proven.

Money also matters in early education. Investing in those programs yields high societal returns and puts kids on a better path.

Conservative talking points are biased and not supported by research. But, then again, since when did the ever pay attention to research?
Anonymous said…
anon 8:47
I don't know what research you are looking at--probably something designed by teachers who want more pay and more control--and NOT done in South Dakota.

There is PLENTY of research that shows that early childhood--preschool/head start--programs not only don't help children but actually harms them. Children who stay HOME with a parent, who cares about them, have the very BEST chance of doing well both socially and academically.

49%---49% of our state's budget goes to education---49%. That is enough!! We need to think about how it is spent (and start a new organization to be the voice of the REAL teachers so that we can shut down the SDEA's shrill money hungry voice)--but it IS enough!
Anonymous said…
Anon 1:25 AM - Please state your sources for that research. It's easy to make claims, but let's see the facts.
Anonymous said…
Are you citing research that was done in South Dakota, then? I don't get it? There's South Dakota-based research that says preschool education harms children?

Better tell Gov. Rounds to back off.

And your 49% figure is misleading a dead wrong. That includes Higher Ed.

As for me citing my research - oh boy, even the public education naysayers like Hanushek say that teacher quality, professional development and early childhood programs (particularly for at-risk kids) is a wise investment.

Go to the 2010E website and read about the ROI on early childhood education.. they talk about a 16 dollar return for every 1 dollar invested.

Besides... staying home with a parent isn't an option for all families. Two income families are the rule in South Dakota, not the exception.

Also... like it or not, preschool helps kids achieve. More often than not.

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