Tech School bill advances. But do we really know what we're getting?
A bill to create a separate governing board for South Dakota's four technical institutes is headed to the desk of Gov. Mike Rounds.Read that here.
The House voted 50-19 on Wednesday to pass the bill, which would create a state board and four regional boards to govern the institutes.
The institutes - in Sioux Falls, Watertown, Mitchell and Rapid City - generally offer one-and two-year education and training to high-school graduates.
"These folks need our help," said Rep. Deb Peters, R-Hartford. "The technical institutes are on the front lines for economic development.''
Just as a little bit of historical perspective, I was an intern in the legislature during the (first) time when the battle raged over BHSC, NSC, and Madison fighting to become full fledged universities. I believe it failed once and then passed the next time out, but that's not the point. I vaguely recall that one of the arguments was that while they might be universities in name, they wouldn't be putting doctoral programs in place.
Fast forward twenty years, and guess what? They're starting to add doctoral programs.
Don't get me wrong, they're fine institutions and leaders in their field. But when a legislature promises "that would never happen," Don't believe it. Because not too many years down the line, after a first step in taken in one direction, it's pretty darned easy to travel down that path.
One legislature says it will never happen, and then later, someone says "why aren't we doing that? That's a great idea. It will pay for itself."
In this case, by setting up a separate board, this new panel will want to expand and enhance the programs under their care. They'll be back to the well year after year. And one day we'll wake up and see that we've created a system of junior colleges.
If that's the case, why don't we come out and say that, and then turn it over the the regents? It's not like we need another government board duplicating what one is already doing. And that will be the end result. Junior Colleges and the Junior College board of governance.
Don't believe me? Wait twenty years, and then let's talk.