I am blessed to live in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
The people of this town are kind, generous, and generally good folks to live with. We treat each other with decency, respect, and live by the Golden Rule.
So it is no surprise to me that the citizens I talk to almost all voice a grave concern towards our local government and school board.
Just like you, they are worried with the direction Sioux Falls have been heading. The corruption, complacency, and shenanigans taking place in our city government of late should worry anyone.
now you can too.
The School-board, unfortunately, mirrors the concern that is felt at the larger levels of local government. The meetings go quickly with little explanation given and less opportunity for public input.
I was late getting to the SF School-Board meeting last week. I arrived less than 5 minutes late. Yet by the time I got there the period for public input was over.
And while it is well and good that we give students the opportunity to learn skills for the workplace, we shouldn’t forget the primary reason for school: learning to think, read, write, and make rational empiric arguments. In essence, our School should be teaching our kids to live the principles of the Enlightenment:
The ability to reason using the scientific method (empiricism), Skepticism, Individualism, and self-discipline. These principles give us and our kids the passion for learning that we all like to talk about having.
Yet look at how our schools are fairing at something as simple as literacy. For years now our students fall behind the state when it comes to reading as a recent report on the Literacy in Action (LIA) program to the SF School Board Shows:
In 2017 only 44.6% of third-grade students passed the English Language Arts Assessment (ELA). This is poor event against the state of South Dakota’s 47.8%.
The multi-year for 2017 is a little better at 52.36%. Yet that still puts us far below any reasonable score a Sioux Falls citizen might have their children.
Lastly, I’d like to point out something obvious that those in charge seem to be ignoring: the increasing rates of suicide among teenagers. During my sister’s senior year at least 2 of her classmates that she knew by name, committed suicide. And unfortunately, there have been lots more since.
While everyone wants to focus on guns I think we are ignoring what is feeding this problem: the extremely poor mental and emotional health of our kids at public school.
I know from very personal experience how harsh kids can be to each-other and how horrible you can feel. We all know this is a big problem, yet few people offer any solutions.
If we want these shootings and suicides to stop we must help our students who struggle with mental and emotional illness.
My Proposed Solutions
1.To fix our school board meetings I hope to modernize the meetings by live streaming them concurrently online with the physical meetings and increase opportunities throughout the meetings for multiple opportunities for public input.
I also would like our school board to better explain what is going on during the steps of the meeting, and not rush through the vote procedures.
2. I want more work done in our schools to help those students who are bullied or are bullies themselves. I want students to get the real help they need if they are suffering from emotional or mental illness.
Teachers (and some administrators) must be allowed to report concerns with their students. They should write down and report on any negative behaviors they are noticing. This shouldn’t be done to punish anyone but to get them the necessary counseling and if needed: medical help.
It is impossible to learn at school if you dread being at school. Your passion for learning won’t alight if you feel unsafe, or unwelcome at class.
3. I also want classes at the High School level to be recorded and made available to students online so they can review past lectures and get caught up if they were sick and couldn’t make it to school.
We should use the power of the internet to enable the very best of learning. Remove any and all barriers to teachers and innovating students to use the internet to enhance the learning experience.
I’m 28, physically disabled due to Chronic Pancreatitis. I’m also a graduate student working on my Masters in Journalism from SDSU.
This election run is actually the basis for my Masters Project (I’m writing a series of articles about what it is like to run for public office, especially as someone with physical limitations)
While you and I may disagree on policy at the national level, I think you will find that we both want the same thing for the Sioux Falls School Board: honesty, efficacy, a strong code of ethics. Men and Women who keep their word and do what they say.
With me, you have that commitment. And that promise.
By my Sacred Honor, if you elect me I will do my very best to make our school board reflect those principles and values that honest citizens of Sioux Falls share no matter their background or political stripes.
Thank you for your time, and thank you for your vote,
God Bless America, and God Bless Sioux Falls,
– Peter Vaughn Pischke