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The Build Dakota Scholarship

Dec 24, 2014


Twas' the night before Christmas when all through the land

Every creature was stirring o'er a scholarship plan;

South Dakota needs workers, the shop bosses wail,

Without welders and wrenchers, gross state product will fail!

Liberal arts don't make jobs, the Governor scoffs,

Kids lark off to college to become philosophes,

Shun nuts, bolts, and wires for bookish vocations,

Then chase luck and lucre in other locations.


So Denny the banker gives 25 Mill;

The Governor's got tax dollars; match it he will!

The vo-techs will let kids take classes for free,

If they promise to work here for years summing three;

A noble plan, really, foresightful and true,

Generous and practical—I'd take it, wouldn't you?

Kids get free schooling in practical trades,

Bosses get workers; the Dennys, accolades.


But imagine the student who says, “Just a min—

Let's think this plan through: is this plan win-win-win?”

A two-year degree is nothing but nice,

But it may put your earning potential on ice.

Nationwide stats show kids who do college

Will squeeze higher pay from their post-high-school knowledge.

Grads from the U have an edge getting jobs

Over grads trained to wire and fiddle with knobs.


But if college ain't fer ya, then what would you say

To nine K, or twelve K, or near 20 K?

Vo-tech beats high school anywhere, any day

Get it free, stay and work—in S.D., will it pay?

Crunch lots of numbers, and surely you'll find

Some states and some jobs where three years of grind

Will earn you more pay than taking the deal

And staying and cutting our lumber and steel.


Wyoming pays off, Nebraska does not;

Radiologists find Minnesota is hot.

Some say cost of living saves Dakotans a bunch,

But data show prices here are no free lunch.

Sioux Falls and the Cities cost about the same:

Des Moines and Lincoln win the price game.

Your scholarship calc will take lots of math

To dictate which state's the more profitable path.


But policy, sweet policy! What say Smith and Marx

On where to apply our few fiscal sparks?

Is the state's proper role to train a job corps

Or raise Platos for voting and Spartans for war?

Less esoteric, will the scholarship work?

Will free school be enough of a perk

To o'erwhelm the forces that currently drain

The work pool the Governor aims to retain?


Fifty mill buys us three hundred a year

Who vouch the mere start of a fledgling career,

Work three years for less than experienced hands,

Then still maybe leave for more fruitful lands

Where Biz has a plan that works for all ages:

To draw better workers, pay better wages!

South Dakota won't challenge its businesses hard;

We'll make vo-tech free and play Sanford's card. 


Cheap school is good for an education promoter,

But you need higher pay to Build South Dakota.


Editor's Note: Cory Heidelberger is our political columnist from the left. For a conservative perspective on politics, please look for columns by Dr. Ken Blanchard on this site. 

Cory Allen Heidelberger writes the Madville Times political blog. He grew up on the shores of Lake Herman. He studied math and history at SDSU and information systems at DSU, and has taught math, English, speech, and French at high schools East and West River.


11:16 am - Wed, December 24 2014
Bernie said:
Fine job, Cory. I'd like to see a YouTube performance of you reading it by the Christmas tree.I think i read recently that SD trails all neighboring states and the national average in educational attainment, so i hope this doesn't continue a movement of expecting less of students who can and should be getting a B.A. and B.S.We need all of the above -- votech, bachelors, masters and doctorates.Thanks for another year of contributing not only to our Web site, for all you do to create awareness and discussion. With the fracturing of "traditional' media, you are more important than you probably know.
11:48 am - Wed, December 24 2014
Rod Hall said:
Amen, brother, Amen!
12:33 pm - Wed, December 24 2014
Steve Hickey said:

We need to loose our poets, artists and songwriters on public policy more often. We need something biting on usury in South Dakota, and state-tribal relations. A few year ago we were doing verse on the house floor to pass Suzy Blake's Feeding South Dakota bill.
05:00 pm - Wed, December 24 2014
YouTube! Why didn't I think of that! (Ah, probably because I'd have to comb my hair. # :-) )

If we're trailing in educational attainment, I'll bet it's because we're not spending enough time teaching kids great literature and poetry. As the good Reverend Hickey suggests, there is a greater place for poetry in public policy. If you get a chance, Bernie, send me the link to that article you read!

And thank you for the Amens (which I receive happily and with an ironic glance to Steve).
08:07 am - Thu, December 25 2014
dave tunge said:
Merry Christmas missed your calling :-)
South Dakota is the greatest State in which to live, work, and enjoy the freedoms from conflict and hassle created by a "too abundant" population. And even with all our blessings comes this:
South Dakota ranks No. 1 in the nation in its climate for small business and entrepreneurship, according to the Small Business Policy Index 2014. Ranks for our neighboring states: Wyoming is No. 4, North Dakota is No. 10, Montana is No. 33, Nebraska is No. 39, Iowa is No. 43 and Minnesota is No. 46; at the bottom is California.

A great lifestyle and a number one business ranking would not exist without good leadership.
11:26 am - Thu, December 25 2014
Dave, Merry Christmas to you, too! I'm glad you enjoyed the poem.

Remember that I share your love of South Dakota. It's the place I want to live and work and write and ride.

But why aren't all those good business factors you cite enough, Dave? Why aren't those factors creating higher wages and drawing a sufficiently large and talented workforce?

(By the way: the Small Business Policy Index is a pro-corporate ideological wishlist with little connection to reality or specifically to small-business survival rates:
05:45 am - Tue, December 30 2014
anonymous said:
Don't worry about low wages and soaring education costs we got state sponsored gaming. .."your ticket to fun" and "we all benefit" The increase in casino robberies is proof Think of all the law enforcement jobs gambling produces Keep thinking it's all good...Greed certainly trumps people It's no big deal Enjoy!

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