Teacher shortage worsens in South Dakota due to politics, low pay and lack of respect

Roosevelt High School senior Dashawn Sykes works with Oscar Howe Elementary students as part of his Teacher Pathway training in Sioux Falls. Sykes has plans to become a math teacher.

Concern over the future of the teaching profession in South Dakota has led to more aggressive efforts by education officials to train and inspire a new generation of classroom leaders, with particular emphasis on elementary school classrooms.

The push comes as kindergarten through 12th grade teacher shortages worsen across the state, a trend driven by below-average salaries and dissatisfaction in the teaching ranks following the difficulties of the COVID-19 pandemic and the recent politicization of social studies standards and crackdown on so-called “inherently divisive” or race-based curricula under Gov. Kristi Noem. 

Noem proposed a 5% increase in state aid to education for the 2024 fiscal year as part of her $7.2 billion budget plan, on the heels of a 6% increase in 2023.

More:South Dakota’s new Education Secretary Joe Graves gives his take on social studies, teacher pay and more

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