State Journal: Note that provokes; Fee refunds

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Note that provokes

South Dakota Gov. William J. Janklow isn't shy about letting teachers know where he stands when it comes to the workingman.

At a recent teacher conference in Aberdeen, S.D., a participant sent an anonymous note to the governor that provoked an angry response.

The note read: "Please don't confuse the difference between professional educators and blue-collar wage earners. We are the ones who make the difference in the future of our state. We need more money from you."

The governor, in addressing the group of 300 teachers, blasted the note, calling it "one of the most offensive statements anybody's ever given me."

"You're no damn better than a blue-collar person in the state of South Dakota, and no blue-collar person is better than you," he told the teachers, according to a report in the Aberdeen American News, a local newspaper. "And your profession and their profession, whether they be an electrician or plumber or farmers, are equally important." Both the note and the governor's response elicited applause.

An editorial in the Sioux Falls Argus-Leader, the state's largest newspaper, praised Gov. Janklow's strong response. "We hope his message got through to the note writer and any other misguided teacher who would hold himself or herself above other workers in the community," the editorial read.

Elaine Roberts, the president of the South Dakota Education Association, suggested that tensions over teacher pay and school funding may have been at the root of the unsigned note.

Fee Refunds

It was better late than never for some Ohio students who got an after-the-fact reprieve from school fees last week.

The legislature in June had included a provision in the state budget waiving school charges, such as lab fees, for disadvantaged students. But school officials, assuming that the law did not take effect until October, had continued charging the fees.

When lawyers for the state education department determined that the provision actually became effective in July, officials began alerting schools that needed to offer refunds, said Paul Marshall, a legislative liaison for the department.

The law applies to low-income students in schools where more than 5 percent of the students' families receive help through the federal welfare program. Schools can still charge fees for extracurricular activities.

--Meg Sommerfeld & Jeanne Ponessa

Vol. 15, Issue 03

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