40 High School graduates have received scholarships to pursue high demand occupations in South Dakota. The Dakota Corps Scholarship program is covering the cost of tuition and fees for students studying to become teachers, accountants, registered nurses, and IT specialists, among other jobs. South Dakota officials are hoping the scholarship will keep the best students in the state. 

The US Senate is debating the Every Child Achieves Act, which replaces No Child Left Behind. Senator Mike Rounds hopes an amendment to the measure helps improve the quality of education in Indian Country.

State of South Dakota

Leaders are examining how South Dakota can improve public education. Tuesday lawmakers and education stakeholders on the Blue Ribbon Task Force met in Pierre to review the ways tax dollars fuel education and how the state compares to its neighbors when funding schools and teachers.

South Dakota has an issue with teacher salaries. That’s the position of a senior analyst with the Education Commission of the States.

Photo by Jim Kent

Over the 240 years since American colonists first took up arms against the British Empire on Lexington Green, the branches of the military and their various uniforms have played an important role in our country’s history. SDPB’s Jim Kent recently visited a military uniform display at the 1881 Courthouse Museum in Custer to explore that history and the changes in how our servicemen – and women – dress…both on the front lines and off.

Sioux Falls School District

Tuesday is the last day on the job for Sioux Falls superintendent Pam Homan. She’s retiring after 11 years leading the district. Kearney, Nebraska public schools superintendent Brian Maher replaces her in July.

People from South Dakota are gearing up for the National Education Association’s annual meeting and assembly. This week a group of teachers, education supporters, students, and retired teachers travel to Orlando, Florida. They hope to gain insights from fellow educators from all over the country.

Leaders of the South Dakota Education Association say they fight for every single student to have the opportunity for strong, comprehensive education – both at the state level and nationally.

Mitchell Hosts Annual Spider Conference

Jun 18, 2015
Brian Patrick

Spider lovers from across the world are meeting in Mitchell this weekend for the 39th annual convention of the American Arachnological Society. Scientists will explore the South Dakota ecosystem and share research.

The spider enthusiasts are meeting at Dakota Wesleyan University. Dr. Brian Patrick is an assistant professor of biology. He says he offered to host the conference in Mitchell as the surrounding prairie offers intriguing possibilities for research.

The federal government has awarded a $218,000 grant to the Pine Ridge School for suicide prevention.
Bill Mendoza is with the U.S. Department of Education.  He says the grant money will help restore a learning environment at the school.

Understanding Illiteracy Through Photographs

Jun 17, 2015
REACH Literacy

Reading advocates in Sioux Falls say 15,000 people in the city don't have basic reading skills. Now Reach Literacy is releasing a new book that tells the story of adults who are able to read for the first time.

A new photo series called Journey to Literacy presents the stories of 20 adults learning to read. Paige Carda is executive director of Reach Literacy. She says she started the project more than a year ago.

The Oglala Lakota College is receiving a grant of $25,000 from a tribe in Minnesota. The grant money will fund the Lakota immersion school for kindergarten through fifth grade students on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. Leaders want to prevent the loss of the Lakota language.

The Shakopee Native American tribe in Minnesota is helping fund the Lakota language program. The grant will allow around 30 children to learn their native language at the childcare facility.

Kealey Bultena / SDPB

State lawmakers on the appropriations committee are rearranging how they want one million dollars distributed to South Dakota Tech schools. Wednesday afternoon members of the Joint Appropriations committee met in Sioux Falls. They heard from education leaders and voted to change an earlier decision.

Lakota Scholar Offers Advice To Native Youth

Jun 10, 2015
Courtesy Shaina Johnson

Shaina Johnson grew up on the Pine Ridge Reservation. Always a good student, she qualified for a Gates Scholarship in high school. And though she wandered a bit while finding her career path, Shaina says she always saw her future in medicine. Along the way, she pursued a variety of interests and always succeeded. Among her secrets to success: realizing just how unique her Lakota and reservation background makes her.

Hear the complete interview with Shaina Johnson by SDPB's Jim Kent. 

Related story:

Courtesy Black Hills State University

A young Lakota woman has just begun a summer internship with the Kennedy Krieger Institute in Baltimore. The Black Hills State University senior was one of just 36 students chosen from a field of 900 to attend three Center for Disease Control-funded programs. 

Shaina Johnson grew up on the Pine Ridge Reservation. Always a good student, she qualified for a Gates Scholarship in high school.

And though she wandered a bit while finding her career path, Shaina says she always saw her future in medicine 

Sanford Harmony Program

The Sanford Harmony Program is a research-based project designed to help improve how boys and girls think about and treat each other. The idea is that by facilitating harmonious relationships between boys and girls at a young age, the learning environment will improve and set the stage for positive relationships throughout a lifetime.

Dakota Midday: Blue Ribbon Task Force On Education

Jun 4, 2015
Charles Michael Ray SDPB

During the 2015 legislative session, Governor Dennis Daugaard announced the creation of a Blue Ribbon Task Force on Teachers and Students to explore teacher pay and education funding.

Blue Ribbon Task Force Hears Concerns

Jun 4, 2015

A Blue Ribbon Task Force set up by Governor Dennis Daugaard is now holding a series of public meetings across the state to hear concerns from educators, business leaders, and the public.

The Task Force is examining teacher pay and education funding in the state and will come back with recommendations to the state legislature.   State Senator Deb Soholt is a co-chair of the task force.   She says public input is vital part of the process.

Pine Ridge Student Named Truman Scholar

Jun 4, 2015
Courtesy CinMag Photography

A Villanova University junior who hails from the Pine Ridge Reservation has been selected as one of 58 recipients of the Harry S. Truman Scholarship. The accolade is the latest in a string of scholarships that have helped the young Oglala Sioux tribal member pursue his educational goals.

A grant worth more than $12,000 is helping an area organization that empowers women. Dress for Success Sioux Falls is preparing to host an eight-week program that helps women who are unemployed or underemployed prepare for career opportunities.

Dress for Success is known globally for its mission to provide women who are economically disadvantaged professional attire so they are physically prepared for the job search. But Lori Strasburg says people don’t always realize the program is about more than blazers and dress pants.

Rapid City Opt-Out Fails

Jun 3, 2015
Chynna Lockett / SDPB

Rapid City voters turned down a measure to opt-out of the state’s property tax freeze. The plan would have increased property taxes and given more money to local schools.
Voters turned down the opt-out 58 to 42 percent.    
But, those on both sides of the issue now say more work can be done to help education funding in the future.

You can hear the rest of this story by clicking play below.

On Tuesday, June 2nd for the first time ever,  Rapid City voters consider opting out of the state’s property tax reduction plan.   
The opt out would increase property taxes by about $6 each month per $100-thousand of valuation.
The extra money raised goes to local schools.   Many of those backing the opt out say schools are in dire need of funding.  But many those against it don’t like the idea of higher taxes.

Rapid City Teachers Hit Impasse With Administrators

May 15, 2015
Chynna Lockett / SDPB

The Teachers Union in Rapid City has come to an impasse in salary negations with the School District.

Rapid City voters consider opting-out of the property tax freeze in a special June 2nd election.  The extra money would go to schools.  
Teachers don’t agree with the district’s plan if the opt out fails.  Administrators say teachers walked away from negations too soon. 

Click play below to hear the rest of the story.

Chynna Lockett

After 5 years with the Rapid City Area School District, Superintendent Dr. Tim Mitchell announced his resignation at a press conference on Tuesday morning. His resignation is effective June 30, 2016, following the 2015-2016 school year.

President Obama Speaks In Watertown

May 8, 2015

President Barack Obama encourages South Dakotans to focus on service opportunities. Mister Obama spoke Friday at Lake Area Tech's commencement. The president highlighted personal stories of LATI workers and graduates including Staff Sergeant Joe Wiskur. The airman deploys shortly after graduation, and Mr. Obama says his education makes him a better soldier.

WoLakota Seeks To Increase Cultural Awareness In Education

Apr 26, 2015

The US Department of Education is taking note of a project in South Dakota that aims to connect teachers with the wisdom of Lakota elders.

For years the graduation rates for Native American students has not kept pace with their non-native peers, especially in some school districts like Rapid City.   The WoLakota Project is one of the efforts to improve outcomes for Native students in South Dakota.   

Black Hills State University

Black Hills State University is forging a partnership with Botho University in Botswana. On March 10th, the two universities signed a Memorandum of Understanding during a special ceremony on the Spearfish campus. BHSU President Tom Jackson, Jr. says that the agreement will allow the two universities to help each other on the international stage.

Kealey Bultena / SDPB

Sioux Falls voters say they want public school to start after Labor Day. More than 14,000 people cast ballots Tuesday in a vote to elect school board members and decide when the school calendar should start.

Nearly 7,000 voters approve of school start dates in mid- to late-August, but even more people say they want the first day of school scheduled after Labor Day. Fifty-two percent of voters filled in the ballot's bubble to push the start date later.

Parent Wendy McDonnel supports the move to start school into September. She says community members want to be heard. 

Sioux Falls voters get to decide Tuesday whether public schools must start after Labor Day. A vote NO forces the district to schedule the first day of class after the holiday. A vote YES supports the approved calendars, which start in mid- to late-August.

Parent Wendy McDonnel says she would rather have time in August than the second half of May, when she says it’s still chilly outside.

On Tuesday, Sioux Falls voters will decide on whether public schools should start before or after Labor Day. For most of the past decade, the Sioux Falls School District has started classes on the third Monday in August, but members of the parent-led Voice in Local Control believe classes shouldn't begin until after Labor Day. Others say starting earlier is better for students.

Kealey Bultena / SDPB

Some people say it’s not what you know but who you know. That’s one of the reasons Sioux Falls education leaders are connecting students with professionals in local industry. Students in the city can take specialized classes at the Career and Technical Education Academy. Options range from health care to welding, construction to culinary programs. Now students are networking with are sponsors in their favorite fields.

Student Leaders Share Opinions on Issues

Apr 1, 2015
Cara Hetland SDPB

This week in Pierre, the South Dakota High School Activities Association hosted the State Student Council Convention. Over 900 of South Dakota’s best and brightest high school students gathered in the state capital. As aspiring future leaders many of the students are keeping an eye on what’s happening in politics at the local and national level. 12 students shared their opinions on major government issues at the state and national level, including new youth minimum wage legislation, education funding and transgender policies.