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A New School Year Begins for South Dakota Students

Across South Dakota, students and educators are gearing up for a new school year. While Jean and I no longer have school-age kids, we enjoy seeing how excited our grandkids are for their first day of school. Making sure students get a quality education is very important to me. What they learn in school now can set them up for success for years to come.

Teachers, administrators and all other school staff members play an integral role in student success. Their dedication to our young people can make a lasting impact. It has been more than 50 years since I was in grade school and I still remember some of the teachers and staff who taught me not only the school curriculum but also life lessons I still value today. Thank you to all the men and women involved in the education of our kids. You have a very important job, and I will work to make sure you are able to do that job without undue federal rules getting in your way.

Congress passed the bipartisan Every Student Succeeds Act, which was signed into law during the previous administration and was the first major overhaul of our education system since No Child Left Behind was enacted. I supported this bill because it shifted authority for academic standards back to the states and local school districts. I strongly believe that education decisions should be made by parents, teachers and local school boards rather than Washington bureaucrats. South Dakota’s educators now have greater flexibility to develop their own curriculum based on the needs of their students. 

While the Every Student Succeeds Act was a positive step toward limiting federal government overreach into our kids’ education, more can and should be done. Earlier this year, President Trump issued a proposal to shrink the size of the federal government by merging the departments of Education and Labor into a new Department of Education and the Workforce. His goal is to make government more accountable to the American people and stop wasting taxpayer money on redundant programs and agencies. I have long called for the closure of the Department of Education, and his proposal takes steps to make that happen. This would allow for even more local control.  

Developing a strong, skilled workforce is an important goal of the education system, so it makes sense to combine the Labor and Education departments into one agency. At a time when our economy is soaring and employers are hiring, it’s critical that our next generation is prepared to fill all the new jobs that are being created.

South Dakota’s students are the future of our state, and our greatest asset. What they learn in school today will help shape them into the men and women they’ll become. I wish all South Dakota students, along with our educators and administrators, a great 2018-2019 school year!




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