Appreciating Teachers

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Appreciating Teachers


By: Governor Kristi Noem

May 3, 2024


May 6th – 10th is Teacher Appreciation Week, a time to celebrate our educators and thank them for everything they do for our students.


But there’s an ongoing problem in South Dakota – teacher salaries have not kept up with increased funding to education. In fact, teacher pay lags far behind the 26.3% increase in funding to K-12 education since I have been Governor. Our teachers deserve better – so we’re giving them better.


My administration recognizes and appreciated the many contributions of our teachers every single day, and this legislative session we placed a special focus on educators. I was proud to sign SB 127, which establishes a minimum teacher salary and revises the requirements pertaining to average teacher compensation. The new law requires districts to meet a minimum annual teacher salary of at least $45,000. It also requires districts to keep pace with annual increases in state funding. This will ensure that teachers do not get left behind like they have far too often.


Rapid City was one school district that was lagging behind in teacher pay, but now, they recently announced they would meet the $45,000 minimum beginning this fall – two years ahead of the deadline! I am so glad this law is already creating a lasting impact on teachers in our schools.


It took a lot of hard work to get this important legislation across the finish line and to my desk. Together, we are making sure that teachers receive the pay they deserve. The Blue-Ribbon promise to increase teacher pay and to make teachers a top priority is now being upheld.


This session, we also made sure our teachers will be equipped to deliver the most proven model of literacy teaching to our kids as the drop in literacy rates is a challenge to schools across America. HB 1022 makes an appropriation to the Department of Education to provide teachers with the latest tools for professional development in literacy. This works with my Department of Education’s statewide literacy initiative based on the Science of Reading. It includes an emphasis on phonics, which is the proven best way to teach kids how to read. This legislation funds the continuation of this fantastic effort.


Our teachers do so much more than educate our kids. They teach them life skills. They help them grow and develop. And they care for them. Young minds grow and develop.


This Teacher Appreciation Week, I encourage you to reach out to the teachers in your life, whether they be your kids’ teachers, a friend or family member, or even a former teacher of your own who made a lasting impact. Thank them for all that they do. And let them know just how important we know they are.


To our South Dakota teachers, thank you for caring for and educating the next generation.