Home schooling dominates during final coffee with legislators

PHOTO BY BENJAMIN CHASE/PLAINSMAN Speaking during the final coffee with legislators Saturday were Sen. David Wheeler, top, Rep. Roger Chase, lower left, and Rep. Lynn Schneider, lower right.

HURON — With nearly 50 people in attendance, Saturday morning’s scattered group in the Huron Fine Arts Center was easily the largest of the three public discussions with District 22’s legislators. It was also the most single-issue focused of the three sessions, as many in attendance were there about Senate Bill 177, regarding alternative education in the state of South Dakota.

Sen. David Wheeler addressed the bill, which has already passed the Senate, by explaining his position on the bill, which remained unchanged from previous Saturday sessions when he expressed concerns for the removal of the few “checks and balances” that home school and alternative education providers have to meet within the state of South Dakota. He did intentionally clarify his position on home schooling in general, however.

“As a legislator, I’ve gotten a feeling that they feel that because I’m against this bill, I’m against home schooling, and that’s not true,” clarified Wheeler. “There are three options to educate a child in this state — public school, private school, and home school. They are all three equally valid options to use.”

Home schooling constituents questioned Wheeler on his position on the bill multiple times. Much of the question was regarding Wheeler’s concern regarding students being unchecked throughout the school year.

One question asked why the public school is the entity that sets the testing standards or does the checking of students, and why that authority would be placed with the public school system. Wheeler’s retort was that he didn’t have an issue with the testing standard or checking of students being with another entity whatsoever, but that it should be done somewhere.

The bill heads to the state affairs committee of the House and then Rep. Roger Chase and Rep. Lynn Schneider will hear arguments on the bill and vote. Both representatives indicated that they have not fully committed their vote one direction or another at this point as there are valid arguments for both sides of the bill.

Sen. Wheeler opened the day with an explanation that he would not be willing to address the impeachment of the attorney general specifically in questions due to his potential role as a juror in the trial, though he would be willing to speak to logistics of the process. He also addressed House Bill 1100 that would delay implementation of IM 26 regarding medical marijuana for six months, stating that he looked forward to discussion in the coming week in the Senate on the bill.

Neither issue received a question from the audience during the morning.

Rep. Chase mentioned that the upcoming week will be when Senate Bill 99 is discussed in the House, which is the bill that would appropriate money for the DEX building. He stated that the appropriations committee voted 12-6 to approve, but the nay votes were the House members of the appropriations committee, so the discussion this week could be a tough one.

Each legislator encouraged constituents to contact them and to include hometown in correspondence.


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