Newsfeed#EDlection2018  

EDlection2018: Kristi Noem Becomes South Dakota’s First Female Governor on Promise to Reward ‘Rockstar Teachers’

By Mark Keierleber | November 7, 2018

Getty Images

EDlection2018: This is one of several dozen races we’ve analyzed for the 2018 midterms that could go on to influence state or federal education policy. Get the latest headlines delivered straight to your inbox; sign up for The 74 Newsletter.

Calling all “rockstar teachers”!

Republican U.S. Rep. Kristi Noem will become South Dakota’s first female governor after an unusually close race, the Sioux Falls Argus Leader reports.

Noem won with 51 percent of the vote. Her Democratic opponent, state Sen. Billie Sutton, secured about 48 percent.

Noem campaigned on an initiative to elevate high performers in the classroom by rewarding “rockstar teachers” with financial incentives through private-public partnerships. One way she hopes to promote this effort is through a “Teacher of the Month” program sponsored by local business. She also offered a plan to elevate education leaders to Jimi Hendrix status: teacher mentorship programs and training for school board members.

Across policy goals, Noem’s campaign website lists accomplishments that closely align with President Donald Trump’s priorities, including support for tax reform, a bill to withhold funds from sanctuary cities and legislation allowing states to pull funding from Planned Parenthood.

As far as school-related accomplishments, she said she “dramatically reduced the federal government’s role in education, returning more decision-making authority to states and school districts and eliminating pressure on states to adopt Common Core.”

Although South Dakota lawmakers officially cut ties with the Common Core, an Argus Leader analysis found that the new South Dakota State Standards look an awful lot like the Common Core, including bullet points taken verbatim.

South Dakota teacher salaries have long been among the lowest in the nation, but Noem rejects increased funding to public education. “We need to focus on creating a better system, not a more expensive one,” her campaign website noted.

Related

A 2018 EDlection Cheat Sheet: Recapping the 70 Candidates, Races & Winners That Matter Most for American Education Policy

To improve education in the state, she favors school choice, though South Dakota is one of just a few states without charter schools. State lawmakers approved a program in 2016 that gives insurance companies tax breaks if they donate to private school scholarships.

“As a conservative, I will protect the rights of parents to choose the educational path that’s best for their child, whether it’s homeschooling, public schooling or a private education,” Noem said.

Other education priorities include increasing workforce training to address a shortage of skilled employees and reducing college costs by simplifying the scholarship application process and encouraging institutions to prioritize affordability.

EDlection2018: This is one of several dozen races we’ve analyzed for the 2018 midterms that could go on to influence state or federal education policy. Get the latest headlines delivered straight to your inbox; sign up for The 74 Newsletter.

Submit a Letter to the Editor