Two reasons to support the verdict in the Annette Bosworth trial

Annette Bosworth speaking in Redfeild.
Annette Bosworth speaking in Redfeild.

Annette Bosworth was found guilty of all twelve felony counts against her. Six of the felony counts are for perjury and the other six are for filing false documents. These all come from Bosworth signing the oath as circulator on a series of petitions, even though she had not actually witnessed the signatures as required by that oath.  I’ve already thrown out some random thoughts to explain why I could not support Bosworth in her trial. This post will look at the two core reasons I truly feel the jury got their verdict right: fraud is wrong and election integrity should be upheld.

To me fraud is a crime that simply doesn’t get enough attention. Fraud is as serious of a crime as any other forms of coercion. When I speak of fraud I am using the more generally usage as found on Dictionary.com:

deceit, trickery, sharp practice, or breach of confidence, perpetrated for profit or to gain some unfair or dishonest advantage.

The legal definition of fraud per the West’s Encyclopedia of American Law, edition 2 can be found here.  I am not talking the legal definition however.

In this case Bosworth signed an oath saying she witnessed every signature on the six petitions in question. She did not witness the signatures. All evidence shows she did not witness the signature and during the trial she admits she did not witness them. That she broke her signed oath was quite clear.

Some say Bosworth did not understand what she was signing. That is hard to believe. The circulators oath is printed right by where she had to sign the dozens of petitions signed by her own hand. It is not an ambiguous statement or hidden away in an arcane law-book. Here is the language that she signed an oath to:

I, under oath, state that I circulated the above petition, that each signer personally signed this petition in my presence, and that either the signer or I added the printed name, the residence address of the signer, the date of signing, and the county of voter registration.

Under written oath Bosworth swore “that each signer personally signed this petition in my presence”. She did not witness the signer personally signing in her presence. To me that is a clear case of deceit in order to gain an advantage. Or as I would put it: fraud.

Some have said he had nothing to gain therefore it isn’t fraud. But she did have something to gain. During the trial it was often mentioned how chaotic the campaign was. It was also mentioned there were concerns about whether there would be enough signatures for Bosworth to make the ballot. It is true that removing the six petitions in question did not remove enough signatures to keep Bosworth from making the ballot. Yet how can the integrity of the other petitions that she signed as circulator be trusted knowing that six of her petitions had blatant breaches of the circulator oath?

That leads to the second point. Integrity in elections is important to ensure the democratic portion of our election system is preserved. These six obvious cases of false documents signed by Bosworth shows that as a candidate she was not worried about he integrity of the election process. The rest of the petitions signed by Bosworth should also be questioned for the trustworthiness of her oath. Our election system must remain transparent and honest. Any deceit must be dealt with via the judicial system to help protect the integrity of the system.

Are there other circulators in South Dakota that have also falsely signed their petitions? Probably! It is a tough election crime to catch and prove in a court of law. Now that Bosworth has done so in such a blatant manner perhaps her example can be used to reduce it from happening in the future.

Finally I wanted to mention that anyone being a good person in some areas of their life does not excuse fraudulent behavior or lack of integrity in election law. Twitter and Facebook appear to be full of Annette Bosworth supporters that believe Bosworth should not have been prosecuted because she is a good doctor and has done a lot of good work for the poor. I applaud her efforts at helping others. But a series of good deeds does not give anyone a free pass to commit fraud in the electoral process.

My next post about Bosworth will likely be around July 1, when her sentencing is scheduled. As long as Bosworth is good between then and now I don’t foresee her getting a hard sentence. Likely she will have to pay a fine for each count and get either no jail time or a light jail sentence that will be suspended.

Social Studies Standards also had a hearing in Aberdeen on May 18

SD Board of Education meeting in Aberdeen. Photo by Ken Santema 05/15/15.
SD Board of Education meeting in Aberdeen. Photo by Ken Santema 05/15/15.

The SD Board of Education met on May 18 in Aberdeen for their regular scheduled meeting (agenda). Previously I’ve blogged three times about the meeting: the adoption of the new Science Standards, some thoughts about the Science Standards adoption, and the adoption of the Fine Arts Standards and the K-12 Educational Technology Standards. The meeting also included public hearing four of five for the proposed Social Study standards.

A comparison of the old and new standards can be read here on the SD Department of Education (DOE) website. This is another area that I need to study up on before trying to do any detailed blogging. Instead this post will focus on testimony given during the hearing that was neither proponent or opponent testimony, but was more a series of questions from NSU history professor Art Marmorstein.

Marmorstein was on the last group that revised the Social Studies Standards. He believes there were a couple of problems that existed in the standards that came out of the last revision. He feels the new standards may have addressed some of those problems, but not necessarily all of them.

Currently there are some schools that wish to teach the entirety of US History in High School, while others want to teach the first half in Middle School and the second half in High School. Marmorstein doesn’t feel that Middle School properly prepares students that go onto college level history courses. He appears to believe all of US History should be taught at the High School level.

Anchor standards are another area of concern for Marmorstein. He says an anchor standard that connects all of Kindergarten through Twelfth Grade may work for other disciplines, but that might not “be so appropriate” for History and Social Studies. He went into examples of how absurd the anchor standards are for the Kindergarten level. He finds the anchor standards to be “frustrating” in this discipline. He feels for Social Studies it may be more appropriate to create elementary level standards, middle school level standards, and finally high school level standards.

Marmorstein then wanted clarification about flexibility teaching the new standards. He would like something to make it easier for teachers to align their lesson plans with the standards. Here is part of what he had to say:

When we moved to outcome based standards on history from years and years ago, we kept our old curricular standards as well. So when we evaluate our program we  evaluate our program by our old curricular standards plus the outcome standards.

Going on Marmorstein seemed to want to know if that would still be possible. It should be interesting in the next Social Studies hearing to see what answer the work-group has for Marmorstein.

I think Marmorstein had some excellent questions that probably should have been asked for each discipline getting new standards. In particular it seems odd that all disciplines are getting anchor standards that will tie together all grades from Kindergarten through Twelfth Grade. I will admit the idea of such a long-reaching anchor standard seems to be an odd concept for such a wide age difference in students.

SD Board of Ed also adopted Fine Arts and K-12 Ed Tech Standards on May 18

SD Board of Education meeting in Aberdeen. Photo by Ken Santema 05/15/15.
SD Board of Education meeting in Aberdeen. Photo by Ken Santema 05/15/15.

On May 18 the SD Board of Education held their regular scheduled meeting in Aberdeen. I’ve already blogged about their adopting the new Science Standards and some thoughts about those proceedings. There were also two other standards that had their final hearing and were adopted: the Fine Arts Standards and the K-12 Educational Technology Standards.

I haven’t delved very deep into either of these topics so this will be a fairly short post.

Fine Arts Standards

The Fine Arts standards in question can be read on the SD Department of Education (DOE) website.  A comparison of the old and new standards can also be found on the DOE website.

To me there appears to be two major changes from the old standards to the new. The main change appears to be the inclusion of anchor standards, which will drive the curriculum all the way from Kindergarten through twelfth grade. Just as with other standards being adopted, I find it odd that a group of people can decide now what will be most relevant over the next thirteen years of a child’s life.

The other major change is the addition of a new ‘strand’. The old standards include Visual Arts, Dance, Theater and Music. In the new standards there is a strand called Media Arts added. Here is how the standards define Media Arts:

According to the National Core Arts Standards for Media Arts, Media Arts is a unique medium of artistic expression that can amplify and integrate traditional art forms by incorporating the technological advances of the contemporary world with emerging skill sets available to students and teachers. Media Arts students cultivate both artistic abilities and a technological aptitude. The media artist utilizes a fundamental understanding of the mediums of analog and digital media in order to integrate digital technologies with traditional forms of artistic expression.

I do like the inclusion of technology in the fine arts field of study. I just wonder if this needs to be pushed at such a high level. It would seem that fine arts programs are often the first on the block to have their budgets cut. I wonder how these new standards will work without infusions of money into the fine arts. Perhaps it is time to look back at prior hearings of these standards to see if the cost of these standards has been taken into account.

The Fine Arts Standards had no opposition testimony in this meeting. These standards were adopted unanimously.

K-12 Educational Technology Standards

On the DOE website the K-12 Educational Technology Standards can be studied. A comparison to the old standards can also be viewed on the DOE website. Looking at the old and new standards there are a lot of similarities. The main changes seem to be the inclusion of new strands and the removal of any examples of materials or activities to be performed.

This is an area I haven’t studied enough yet to determine a true feeling for the standards. There was no opposition testimony in this meeting. The K-12 Educational Technology Standards were adopted by the Board of Education unanimously.

Some thoughts on the SD Board of Education’s adoption of the new Science Standards

Mary Scheel-Buysee testifying
Mary Scheel-Buysee testifying before the SD Board of Education. Photo by Ken Santema 05/08/15

One week ago I did a post highlighting the preceding the SD Board of Education meeting in which the new science standards were adopted. Now it is time to do some actual editorializing about the meeting and what was said during the meeting. I’ll go section by section, matching up with the order in my original post.

Proponent Testimony – Sam Shaw, DOE

Mr Shaw spent a lot of his time trying to show that any public comments given to the workgroup were listened to and handled appropriately. He then mentioned the newer comments and testimony fell under five categories. Here are my thoughts on his five categories:

  1. No comments on course pathways at this time.
  2. Equity for transient populations. In the push for standards it is often brought up that standards have to exist so kids that switch schools can more easily adapt to their new school. I can understand the reasoning, but I disagree with it. As proponents of standards have noted it is not the actual standards that set curriculum. Centralized standards do nothing to ensure transient students can better cope, unless the same curriculum is pushed. The emphasis upon actually doing science is good, especially compared to the old standards of emphasizing memorization. But emphasis on actually doing science can be done without a centralized set of standards. Believing standards are needed for transient students would also appear to be believe that teachers can’t understand how to help transient students that enter their class.
  3. Missing topics. The main red flag I heard Mr Shaw talk about in this part of his testimony was the focus on core ideas that will be worked on all the way from Kindergarten through 12th grade. I find this odd that anyone believes the field of science would be so static. Yes there are core theories and concepts within the field of science that are somewhat static. But the field of science is actually quite dynamic, and if teachers are expected to focus more on application of science (instead of memorization) it seems odd that teachers would be forced to teach within certain core ideas that have been set today.
  4. Controversial topics. I actually agree with the workgroup that adding “for and against” to the critical thinking skills was unnecessary. Technically critical thinking skills should already include looking at multiple sides.
  5. Parental involvement. Mr Shaw noted that a parent that had been involved had to leave early in the process. He did not mention if any attempt had been made to find a replacement.

Proponent Testimony – Mark Iverson, Watertown Teacher

I do agree with Mr Iverson that the new standards do better at fostering learning and critical thinking than the old standards. But I can’t agree with more local control. The very fact that centralized standards exist means that a certain degree of local control has been usurped.

Proponent Testimony – Josh Hall, Assistant Superintendent, Sioux Falls School District

Mr Hall was there merely as a cheer leader.

Proponent Testimony – Ruth Wegehaupt, Retired Teacher

I found it odd that Ms Wegehaupt felt the need to bring petitions on behalf of a group called Climate Parents. Looking back through the comments I do see opposition to the inclusion of climate change in the standards. But I don’t see any inclination from the Board of Education to remove this from the standards. She was fighting a battle that had basically already been won. I do tip my hat to anyone that fights for what they think is right though!

Other than that I did cringe a couple of time during her testimony. Her testimony gave me the same cringe as when I hear anyone say “the science has been decided” or “science shows this to be true”. This goes back to my earlier point about science being a quite dynamic field. Yes, the majority of vocal modern climate scientists do believe humans are causing at least some degree of climate change. But that does not mean such scientific theories should be treated as facts, which is what she seemed to be saying. This is especially true since the whole topic of climate change is more political, as opposed to based on actual scientific methods. (Personally I do think humans are causing at least a small extent of climate change, but that doesn’t mean I want self-serving politicians to create “solutions”).

Proponent Testimony – Alice Wegehaupt, 96 Years Old

Alice gave everyone a little smile. But her observation that the climate in SD now is different from when she was a child does nothing to show how that climate change occurred.

Opponent Testimony – Mary Scheel-Buysee, South Dakotans Against Common Core

I don’t believe Mary actually planned to testify in this meeting. But since nobody was there to speak against the standards, she stepped up and said a few words. The main part of her testimony came down to asking why all of these standards needed to be adopted so rapidly. I agree with her. These standards are untested and will continue to push the direction of K-12 education towards outcome based education. Anytime standards or adopted or changed it means education will be driven towards a certain outcome. I find it quite troubling that anyone with any amount of certainty can say what the outcome of a child thirteen years in the future should be. In the span of thirteen years much can and will change.

Those of us against standards are often said to be afraid of change. I see the opposite as being true. To me education has to be dynamic and change according to the capabilities of each student. Standards take the opposite approach and makes education static and attempts to change the capabilities of each student towards a pre-determined outcome. That just doesn’t seem like an education system South Dakota should be embracing. Not only is South Dakota embracing such a system, but it seems to be racing towards it.

Proponent Phone Testimony –  Todd Brist, Principal, Watertown Middle School

Mr Brist listed off four reasons to support the science standards:

  1. Expertise. Mr Brist actually admits that the standards being adopted by South Dakota are based upon the Next Generation Science Standards. I wish the actual Board of Education had been as transparent. The Next Gen standards are worthy of a post on their own. But aside from not feeling such standards are necessary, I feel the Next Gen standards are particularly bad because they try to almost completely remove math from science. I don’t even think that is possible, at least not if someone actually plans to be a scientist some day.
  2. South Dakota values. No comment.
  3. Standards versus curriculum. Mr Brist does have a point with standards and curriculum being two different things. But the two are linked, especially since one drives the other.
  4. Implementation. I have no doubt the schools in SD can implement any standards. But being able to easily implement standards doesn’t mean it will be cheap. How much will it cost to completely change how science is taught in K-12 in South Dakota?

Comment Testimony – Burt Tulson, District 2 State Representative

Rep Tulson appeared concerned that certain controversial topics would be taught and tested without latitude towards the other side of the issue. This has been where there has been a lot of resistance to the Next Generation Science Standards. It should be noted that Tulson has not been opposed to Common Core or implementing any new standards. But he does have reservations about how controversial topics will be handled under the new standards. As I look at the standards I’m not sure how much it will impact such topics, since they already exist.

Rebuttal – Sam Shaw, DOE

The core of Shaw’s rebuttal appears to be that these new standards are not actually any form of reform. This has been a talking point used often for proponents of Common Core. It is also a statement I happen to agree with. Common Core, including the re-branded Next Generation Science Standards, are not a sudden change in the direction of education. For the last couple of decades the public school system has gradually been headed towards outcome-based education. Common Core is just the last change to move further in that direction. I do find it troubling that these particular standards are based purely upon research. Making such vast changes around the country based purely upon theory and research seems unwise.

Rebuttal -Jacqueline Omland, workgroup member

Ms Omland mirrored Mr Shaw’s rebuttal testimony in saying this is not reform, and is instead just change. Personally I don’t think change here is the issue. As I stated above, this move to the Next Generation Science Standards is just a move down the direction that public education has been headed for years. I’m not sure how much that really counts as change. It would seem to be more of a progression, and not necessarily a good one. She says these are the best standards she has seen since teaching back in the late seventies and that these standards are how she should have been teaching the whole time. My question is, what if there are better ways? Adopting such standards can prevent school districts from implementing changes that could be good for their students education.

Comments – Melody Schopp, Secretary of Education

One good part of Schopp’s statement is that she acknowledges parents getting involved has changed how the Department of Education does things. I know many that have fought against Common Core feel they have had no impact. I would disagree with the assessment those people have had no impact. True there hasn’t been as much impact as they wanted. But in the end the DOE has had to slow down and actually interact with parents. The key is for parents to continue to be involved. That is the only way to ensure going forward that changes are made when and if the new standards are found to be failing the students of South Dakota.

Schopp also added a paragraph to the introduction of the standards. This was to alleviate the fears of parents and others that do not like the inclusion of climate change and evolution in the standards. This addition has no practical impact. To me it appears the paragraph was added to appease the naysayers, while allowing the standards to go untouched. The SD Legislature does the same thing often by passing non-binding resolutions.

Standards Adopted

Yes, the standards were adopted. I don’t think anyone in attendance was surprised by this. Personally I believe South Dakota will regret the move to these standards in a couple of years. But right or wrong the DOE did follow the proper procedure to implement these new standards. It is now up to parents to keep an eye on the progress and collectively take action as needed to protect the education of our youth.

More thoughts on the Bosworth trial

Circulators Oath on the SD Nominating Petition.
Circulators Oath on the SD Nominating Petition.

Yesterday after day one of the Annette Bosworth trial I posted a brief summary. I also indicated in that post I feel she is guilty from the evidence I have seen and the people I’ve spoken with (including Ms Bosworth). This morning I’ll post some other random thoughts about the Bosworth trial. Honestly I am doing this post due to a deluge of emails mad at me for not supporting Bosworth and asking me to explain myself.

First, the ancient proverb “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” just doesn’t ring true to me. Many Bosworth supporters appear to be supporting her because she is taking on the establishment, and most notably Attorney General Marty Jackley. I’m no fan of Jackley, but to be fair I’m no fan of any Attorney General because that position generally continues to push the failed drug war that has put too many people into prison for victim-less crimes. I also feel he has turned a blind eye to native children being taken from their families and placed into bad homes so the state can make money. Yet at the same time Jackley has made vast improvements in the Consumer Protection Division and has worked hard to fight against consumer fraud in South Dakota. Yes, I disagree with much of what he does, and agree with other parts of what he does. But none of that has anything to do with this trial. This trial is about a person that lied on their nominating petitions.  Just because I don’t like much of what Jackley does, it doesn’t mean I should support anyone that goes against Jackley’s office.

Second, there is no apparent misuse of power against Bosworth. A main talking point of Bosworth supporters is that the political machine in Pierre is punishing her for trying to take on the establishment during the 2014 election. I find this to be an odd accusation. Bosworth had almost no impact on the election. She only got about 6% of the vote in the primary. The Rounds campaign was not running scared from her. Actually for the most part the Rounds campaign was trying to ignore her. Additionally they were not embarrassed by her high dollar amounts raised. Everyone that was paying attention knew she used a company that utilizes ethically questionable methodologies. The Rounds campaign understood that little of the money raised actually would go to the Bosworth campaign. There is no logical reason for anyone to believe Rounds would send his buddy Jackley after Bosworth for daring to take him on in the primary.

Continuing on that thought, Jackley never wanted to take on this case. If anything it always appeared Jackley was going to ignore the fact that Bosworth was in the Philippines while she was supposedly in SD witnessing signatures. It was only because of Cory Heidelberger and Steve Hickey that the AG’s was forced to take action. This isn’t the type of trial that will end up as any sort of win politically for Jackley and his staff. The potential political backfire from prosecuting such a case greatly outweighs any political gain that could be had for Jackley and Rounds. Again, it just doesn’t make logical or political sense for Jackely to take on the case.

Another claim is that “everyone else does it”. Well, not everyone passes petition around without witnessing all signatures. But there is some validity to the claim, because a lot of politicians have been known to pass petitions around at events such as Lincoln Day Dinners. That is also wrong. It is also harder to prove and investigate because someone has to actually come forth and bring a case. With the Bosworth case it was clear that she was acting illegally. She had used social media to bring attention to the fact she was in the Philipines while she was supposedly witnessing signatures in South Dakota. As far as I know, no other SD politicians were out of the country while they swore an oath saying they were witnessing signatures. Even at Lincoln Day Dinners the circulator is at least in the same room. Comparing the two situations as if they are the same is just a misdirection.

Finally, I don’t think Bosworth’s medical license should be taken. If she is found guilty and convicted of a felony it is likely her medical license will be taken. I find it very hard to believe the AG’s office didn’t offer a plea bargain to a misdemeanor offense. Yes, twelve felony counts is overkill. But does anyone think she will actually get the full extent of the law thrown at her if found guilty? There is no way the prosecution would allow such an overwhelming sentence. Personally I wish Bosworth had said “my bad, I didn’t mean to do it and I won’t do it again”, then worked with the prosecution on reducing the charge to a misdemeanor. But since that didn’t happen her medical license may be taken for a bad decision made by her. And yes, the bad decision was made by her. Right next to where the circulator signs the petition very clearly states “that each signer personally signed this petition in my presence”. Many areas of law are ambiguous. This one isn’t.

Today I will likely continue to watch the trial. I’m not really sure why. The first day looked horrendously bad for Bosworth, and I can’t imagine today will go any better…

Bosworth Trial Day 1 is over

Annette Bosworth speaking at her US Senate Campaign launch. Photo by Ken Santema 07/26/13
Annette Bosworth speaking at her US Senate Campaign launch. Photo by Ken Santema 07/26/13

Day one of the Annette Bosworth trial is completed. Live coverage of the trial has been provided by KELO. I really, really, really, really, wanted to stay away from this. There are so many more blog posts I need to complete (many drafts I have to finish). But this is an important trial, and accordingly I will do posts about it.

First, I will say that I think Bosworth’s actions make me see her as guilty. That does not mean she will necessarily be found guilty in a court of law. But I have seen the evidence against her and feel she willfully lied. Last summer I had the opportunity to speak with Bosworth about the charges. Anytime I asked her a straightforward question about the allegations against her she would redirect with questions. Not once would she to my face admit what she did. If she had admitted what she did and tried to make the case that the punishment was too harsh for the crime I would likely be on her side. But that isn’t the case.

Now, on to a brief summary of the trial today. The defense seems to be trying the tactic that Bosworth did indeed break the law, but it was the fault of Sioux Falls lawyer Joel Arends. The state on the other hand seems to be taking the tactic of proving what Bosworth did, and let her be convicted of that.

The best part of the trial was the State bringing former Secretary of State Chris Nelson to the stand. Most of his testimony I found quite irrelevant to the actual proceedings. But he provided a great inside view of how the Secretary of State office works. He also made it quite clear that the petition states that the circulator is signing under oath that all signatures were personally witnessed.

The worst part of today’s proceedings came from the playing of an interview Bosworth did last year on the Greg Belfrage radio show. It was a trainwreck of an interview. I didn’t do a blog post about the interview at the time. But summaries can be read on the Dakota War College blog and the Madville Times blog (Madville Times is now known as Dakota Free Press).  It seems odd to me that the defense didn’t try to stop that audio from being played. Most of the interview is irrelevant to the case. Also, in my opinion the audio makes Bosworth look less than sane. I don’t think that will help her with the jury.

I think that is enough blog space used on this topic. I will follow the trial until its conclusion. My prediction is she will be found guilty and get the lightest sentence possible. She will also lose her medical license (for a felony). After that she and husband Chad Haber will move on to another state and try to find new gigs…

PS. The picture in this post was taken by me in the summer of 2013. Looking at it reminds me of how very long that election season was…

SD Board of Education adopted science standards today

SD Board of Education meeting in Aberdeen. Photo by Ken Santema 05/15/15.
SD Board of Education meeting in Aberdeen. Photo by Ken Santema 05/18/15.

Today the South Dakota Board of Education held its regular scheduled meeting in Aberdeen, SD. Included in item seven of the meetings agenda was the final public hearing for the proposed science standards. The proposed standards going into the meeting can be read on the SD Department of Education (DOE) website.

Below is a brief rundown of the science standards proceedings. I withheld most editorializing in this post. I will follow-up with editorial comments tommorow. This post will focus on reporting what I thought were key points of the proceedings.

Proponent Testimony – Sam Shaw, DOE

Proponent testimony began with DOE employee Sam Shaw. In this meeting Mr Shaw was focused on giving updates. To begin with he went through some of the public comments and the workgroups responses.  There were four comments that had come in since the last meeting. They were each presented as their own documents as exhibits 42, 43, 44, and 45.

Mr Shaw then categorized the four new comments plus previous verbal testimony into five categories and provided responses:

  1. Course pathways. Mr Shaw explained the architecture of the standards will be arranged to allow grade and course level standards. The grade levels were split into middle school (6-8) and high school (9-12).
  2. Equity for transient populations. Mr Shaw explained that if the standards are followed there is more of an emphasis on doing science and core ideas; as opposed to learning facts. By taking this route it is believed local students should do better when moving between schools.
  3. Missing Topics. Mr Shaw says the science concepts from the new standards “do not stray” from those present in the prior standards. He said the main difference is that the new standards focus on core ideas that will be developed over the K-12 progression.
  4. Controversial topics. Some commenters wanted to make sure balance and/or objectivity was presented in the standards for dealing with controversial topics. There was a suggestion to add “for and against” to critical thinking skills. The workgroup did not accept that proposal because they feel each standard is already built with science standards. They felt changing the language would change the classroom from being a discussion to being a debate.
  5. Parental involvement. There were suggestions that parents should be involved in the process. Mr Shaw did note there was originally a parent involved, but had to stop involvement for personal reasons.

Proponent Testimony – Mark Iverson, Watertown Teacher

Mark Iverson, a Watertown teacher and member of the workgroup, then gave some proponent testimony. Mr Iverson believes the standards create good local control. Most notably he believes the new standards will foster learning and critical thinking, while the old standards focused upon memorization and regurgitation of information.

Proponent Testimony – Josh Hall, Assistant Superintendent, Sioux Falls School District

Mr Hall spent his proponent testimony time touting the support he has seen in Sioux Falls in support of the science standards.

Proponent Testimony – Ruth Wegehaupt, Retired Teacher

Ruth is a retired teacher from the language arts field, but has great interest in the science field. She was there to represent a group called Climate Parents. With her was a stack of petitions that were circulated in support of the standards. She also wanted to verify the difference between a scientist using the word theory, and how it is generally used by others. She said the “evidence of climate change produced by global warming caused by human activities is considerable.” Further she noted that scientists have “very high confidence” in human caused climate change. Ruth said that means the statement with that much confident is about 90% true, because scientists cannot say anything with 100%. She explained that terms which sound vague to the normal person, are actually specific when used by scientists.

The bulk of her testimony appeared to be in support of the climate change portion of the standards; which have been a controversial inclusion.

Proponent Testimony – Alice Wegehaupt, 96 Years Old

Alice said “I am evident proof of a change in climate.” Alice grew up on a farm near Aberdeen and has lived in various places since then. When coming back to SD she can assure people that the climate here has changed.

Opponent Testimony – Mary Scheel-Buysee, South Dakotans Against Common Core

 

Mary Scheel-Buysee testifying
Mary Scheel-Buysee testifying before the SD Board of Education. Photo by Ken Santema 05/18/15

Mary kept her testimony short, she has testified against the various standards many times. She noted she didn’t come to testify against any particular standard. But, she also noted that when she was in high school back in the 70’s that “by now we were supposed to be frozen over”. That appeared to be a retort to ever-changing talking points from climate-change groups.

Mary then said she was speaking not to speak only about the science standards, but all the standards. She asked “if we don’t adopt these, whats the harm?” She noted language arts and math Common Core standards were adopted without proof they work. Further, Mary looked at shifts in pedagogy of math in other countries and the math scores falling. She wants to know where the empirical evidence is that the pedagogical changes will work. Instead of adopting the standards unproven, Mary said SD should wait and see how it works out for others states. If the changes work well for other states, then South Dakota could adopt the standards. Either way, she says the students will continue to learn science.

Mary summed up her stance by saying “please slow down this train.”

Proponent Phone Testimony –  Todd Brist, Principal, Watertown Middle School

Mr Brist listed off four reasons to support the science standards:

  1. Expertise. Mr Brist believes the standards were vetted by local teachers. He acknowledges the standards come from the Next Generation Science Standards, but contends they were vetted by local experts.
  2. South Dakota values. Mr Brist believes the proposed standards are based on South Dakota values, as the previous ones were.
  3. Standards versus curriculum. Mr Brist then took a moment to reiterate that there is a difference between standards and curriculum, and that curriculum is where the controversial topics are actually addressed. He noted decisions on the controversial topics will always be done at the local level.
  4. Implementation. Mr Brist says that the implementation of the standards will have enough flexibility to easily be implemented with local control.

Comment Testimony – Burt Tulson, District 2 State Representative

Rep Burt Tulson testifying
Rep Burt Tulson testifying before the SD Board of Education. Photo by Ken Santema 05/18/15

Representative Burt Tulson (District 2) took a moment to comment on the standards. He noted that his testimony was neither proponent or opponent. Rep Tulson wanted to make a statement. He wanted to make sure that the students taking the test for the standards being proposed be given latitude because of different sides to certain topics. He wanted to note that scientists don’t agree and wanted to ensure that is accounted for in the standards.

Rebuttal – Sam Shaw, DOE

Mr Shaw wanted to say that the new standards are not education reform. He said a lot of research has been done since the last standards were passed, and the new standards are being based upon the new standards. This was in reply to Scheel-Buysee saying SD should slow down. Mr Shaw said the previous standards had a design flaw that didn’t include science practices in the standards.

Rebuttal -Jacqueline Omland, workgroup member

Ms Omland noted she has taught science since 1978. She noted that she hated science in high school, because of how it was taught through memorization. She then noted that she has lived and taught through many science standards; and that she thinks this new set of standards is how she should have been teaching the whole time. “It is not reform, it’s just change” is what she had to say, which mirrored what Mr Shaw said earlier.

Comments – Melody Schopp, Secretary of Education

The Secretary of Education, Melody Schopp, then took a few moments to comment. She believes the public hearing process has made the DOE better by forcing them to change how they do things. Going forward, Schopp believes the DOE has to keep parents involved in the process.

Schopp then noted she will ask the board to take action. There have been two standards that have caused a lot of public comments, and believes something needs to be called out because of them. She believes it is important for parents to be engaged in the tough conversations on those topics with their kids.

She then passed out a statement that she feels is important to be added to the introduction of the standards. Here is the statement that was later amended into the standards:

Through he public hearing process related to adoption of the South Dakota Science Standards, it is evident that there is particular sensitivity to two issues: climate change and evolution. The South Dakota Board of Education recognizes that parents are their children’s first teachers, and that parents play a critical role in their children’s formal education. The South Dakota Board of Education also recognizes that not all viewpoints can be covered in the science classroom. Therefore, the board recommends that parents engage their children in discussions regarding these important issues, in order that South Dakota students are able to analyze all forms of evidence and argument and draw their own conclusions.

She said this intro is asking the classroom to be about the science for topics that are “controversial in the State of South Dakota.”

Standards Adopted

There was a recess as the above words were amended into the standards. After the recess the board voted unanimously to accept the amendment. The board then unanimously passed the adoption of the science standards for South Dakota. The science standards as adopted can be read here.

Tomorrow I will post an editorial of my thoughts about the proceedings of the science standards adoption in South Dakota.

GOAC meeting in Pierre on Tues May 19

On Tuesday, May 19, 2015, the SD legislative interim Government Operations and Audit Committee (GOAC) will be meeting in Pierre. The agenda can be viewed here.  There are also a lot of documents that can be viewed in relation to the meeting; the documents can be viewed here.

The meeting will begin at 9:00am and has the following nine items on the agenda. I’ll only  comment on a few of the agenda items:

Item 1 – Department of Social Services

The DSS portion of the meeting has three bullet points in the agenda:

  • To provide an update on the Medicaid management information system project
  • Discuss the sources and uses of funds in Blue Book – Company 3079
  • Discuss Medicaid recovers

Item 2 – Juvenile Corrections Monitor Semi-Annual Report for the period July 1, 2014 through December 31, 2014

The JCM SAR has seven investigative reports. I find some of these reports to be quite troubling. Most notable was the first investigation:

Investigation #1 – This investigation was generated as a result of a youth’s note to the JCM. The youth alleged a staff had used “boot camp” tactics on several occasions. The tactics involved public humiliation, physical exercise as punishment, and an inappropriate marching cadence. The investigation revealed that the allegations were found to be true via an admission by the accused staff as well as other evidence gleaned during the investigation. This staff’s actions 0 5 10 15 20 25 30 35 40 45 50 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 Public Section – 9 – January 1, 2015 violated conditions under the DOC Juvenile Discipline System but this incident was deemed unsubstantiated abuse or neglect as defined in the JCM Statute.

This investigation led to a staff member retiring and a policy review. My biggest question would be how far did this staff member go? And who else knew about the staff members actions? Was the staff member allowed to retire in order to cover up more issues at the Patrick Henry Brady Academy.

Independent gubernatorial candidate Mike Myers speaking with Brady Folkens mother Dawn Van Ballegooyen. Photo by Ken Santema 8/29/14.
Independent gubernatorial candidate Mike Myers speaking with Brady Folkens mother Dawn Van Ballegooyen. Photo by Ken Santema 8/29/14.

I am particularly interested in this part of the agenda because of the death of Brady Folkens in the State Treatment and Rehabilitation (STAR) Academy. I spoke with Brady’s mother, Dawn Van Ballegooyen,  during the 2014 election; but unfortunately I did not have time to research both sides of the story and investigate the issue for a blog post. Over at Dakota Reporter there is an 18 minute video with Brady’s mother telling her side of the story. JCM cleared the state of any responsibility. It is situations such as that with Brady that should make GOAC extra vigilant in their duties dealing with JCM.

Item 3 – Department of Corrections – Report on Abuse and Neglect in Private Placement Facilities for the period July 1, 2014 through December 31, 2014

Item 4 – Bureau of Administration – To discuss the insurance programs called for in HB1185, HB1186, and HB1187, 2015 Session

HB 1185 (SoDakLiberty Posts), HB 1186 (SoDakLiberty Posts), and HB 1187 (SoDakLiberty Posts). Here is what part of what I had to say about these bills after they passed:

This bill appropriates $4,000,000 to “the Bureau of Administration for the purpose of making a grant to a captive insurance company controlled entirely by the state to fund property and casualty loss coverage.” Daugaard has mentioned this before. It makes sense for an entity as big as the state to take such an approach to insure property owned by the state…. But…… Is this really a priority right now? The state has gone 125 years without a captive insurance company. That four million could be better spent on infrastructure or education.

My thoughts remain the same. I find it odd that the state suddenly had to insure buildings that have gone for decades without insurance. HB 1186 adds another $2.5 million to the $4 million mentioned above. That is money that could have been better spent in other areas. Sadly the bills passed and they money will apparently be spent…

Item 5 – Obligation Recover Center – To discuss the new program created by HB1228, 2015 Session

This Obligation Recovery Center was originally called a state debt collection office. But that made it sound bad, so they renamed it……

HB 1228 (SoDakLiberty Posts) is a successful attempt by the Republican SD state legislature to grow the size of government. Apparently the state has been losing money using third parties to collect debt owed to the state. This new debt collection center is supposedly going to do it at a lower cost, and have more powers than a private company would. This is a bad situation all around, and a topic I still plan on blogging deeper about this summer. But my main problems with the new debt collection center revolve around the following items:

  • State government grows in size and power.
  • State government will compete in a private industry.
  • The debt collection legislation and the upcoming program are the brainchild of the same company responsible for the Obamacare website…

Too bad South Dakota couldn’t some day get a conservative majority to stop legislation such as this in the future.

Item 6 – Brand Board to review the 2014 annual report

Item 7 – Department of Legislative Audit to review the Single Audit Report for the fiscal year ended June 30, 2014

Item 8 – Department of Legislative Audit to review the audit report for the South Dakota High School Activities Association for the fiscal year ended June 30, 2014

The South Dakota High School Activities Association (SDHSAA) has gotten a lot of attention this year. The history, authority, make-up, and oversight of the SDHSAA is the topic of a summer study approved by the Executive Board.  Of course the true reason so much attention is being placed on the SDHSAA is the transgender policy that was adopted by the organization.  HB 1195 (SoDakLiberty Posts) passed the House to try removing the policy, but failed to pass Senate Ed; and then also failed a smokeout. A companion bill HB 1161 (SoDakLiberty Posts) to limit the authority of the SDHSAA also passed the House, but failed in Senate Ed. At the end of session there was then a hoghouse done on SB 140 (SoDakLiberty Posts) to resurrect HB 1195, but that also failed.

Personally I think the legislature should give up on the one issue, and listen to the many athletic directors in school districts around the state that believe the SDHSAA has gotten too powerful. Instead of focusing on a single issue, focus on bring the organization back to working for the schools.

Item 9 – Committee discussion of future topics and the next meeting date

This should be an interesting meeting to listen to….

Interim executive board meeting in Pierre on Mon May 18

On Monday, May 18, 2015, the SD legislative Executive Board will have its third meeting of the 2015 interim session.  The subcommittee meetings will begin at 7:00 am. The full board meeting is scheduled to being at 10:00 am.

One thing to possibly keep an eye on in this meeting is the Midwestern Higher Education Compact (MHEC) budget and exec board appointments. MHEC seemed to be a sore spot in the last meeting.

The minutes from the April 27 meeting can be read here.  Here are a few notable items from the April  meeting:

  • There was talk about why the legislature paid for dues in the  Midwestern Higher Education Compact (MHEC). Further talk was had around how to get out of the compact. Apparently it would take a legislative fix and two-year wait. The big question appears to be whether the State of SD gets enough out of the compact compared to the benefits.
  • 80 interim study survey responses were received from legislators. I fail to see why all 105 legislators couldn’t be bothered to fill these out….
  • Study H, “A review of the functions of county government, laws and regulations regarding counties, county revenue and expenditures, and alternative funding solutions.”, was chosen as a 2015 interim study.
  • Study I, “The history, authority, make-up, and oversight of the SDHSAA,” was also chosen as a 2015 interim study. This apparently had the highest number of responses.
  • It was discussed that the Legislative Planning Committee would not need to study education because of the Blue Ribbon Task Force. An attempt to create a workforce development study failed. This item will be taken up again in the May meeting.

 

SD Board of Education will have public hearings on content standards in Aberdeen on Monday, May 18

No SBACOn Monday, May 18, the South Dakota Board of Education will have holds a meeting at the NSU Campus in Aberdeen. Those involved in the battle against Common Core should definitely take note of this meeting. The agenda for the meeting can be viewed here.

Here is item 7 on the Agenda:

Public Hearing – Standards – fine arts, K-12 educational technology, science, and social studies – Becky Nelson and Sam Shaw, DOE

This will be the last chance for anyone to attend a public hearing for a few of these standards. Here is what was written in the Governor’s Office press release that brought attention to the meeting:

Public hearings will be held related to content standards adoption in the areas of science, social studies, fine arts and K-12 educational technology. This will be the final public hearing for the proposed fine arts, K-12 educational technology and science standards. There will be one additional hearing for the proposed social studies standards.

I will admit I haven’t been following these standards. But if someone in the Aberdeen area has been following these standards I believe this would be an important meeting to attend.

Another interesting item on the agenda is number 14:

Public Comment (with prior notice) – Smarter Balanced/standardized tests – Mary Scheel-Buysse, public

Mary Scheel-Buysse has been a tireless champion in the battle against Common Core in South Dakota. On the South Dakotans Against Common Core website there is a list provided of why parents should refuse the SBAC assessment.  Personally I believe SBAC is fundamentally flawed because it is a direct attack upon local control.

Right now I don’t believe I can make the meeting (I am triple booked for important meetings tomorrow). If I am somehow able to attend I will take notes and pass on any information I find important.

For anyone that wants to attend here is the info about the meeting:

Time: 8:30 AM

Location: Northern State University, Student Center Centennial Rooms A & B West, 1200 South Jay Street, Aberdeen, South Dakota

Conference call access: 1-866-410-8397 (conference code 8381998525)

Agenda: PDF

After the meeting: At the conclusion of the meeting, the Board will tour the Aberdeen Technical Education Center (A-TEC), 2200 S. Roosevelt Street, Aberdeen. The public is invited to attend.