Like many of its neighbors, South Dakota faces a significant teacher shortage. Roughly 600 students graduate each year with teaching degrees, but many of them leave for states that pay higher salaries for beginning instructors, or they take up different professions. Of 441 such graduates surveyed last year, 294 became teachers, but only 215 stayed in South Dakota.
Legislators in this year's session considered a number of options to address the problem, from streamlining the teacher certification process and waiving specific education requirements to raising teacher pay.
One of the more innovative efforts was a bill to create a loan forgiveness program, offering to repay student tuition loans for education graduates from public colleges who agree to teach in a South Dakota school faced with a teacher shortage.
As it churned through the Legislature, the bill was amended to include private college students, whichaccording to its original sponsor, Republican Sen. Don Brosz, violates the state's constitutionand eventually was changed into a scholarship fund for juniors studying education, trimming its cost significantly. Even this compromise was killed in the face of a state finance deficit and, said Brosz, lack of support from the governor.