Recent Op-Eds

Back to School

By: Senator John Thune

August 13, 2010

As the dog days of summer wind down, the cooler weather of fall and the start of school are just around the corner. The new academic year is drawing near and families across South Dakota will soon begin preparing their children for new classes, teachers, and friends.

School supplies have begun to show up on store shelves and the newspaper circulars are advertising backpacks and new clothes for the upcoming year, while teachers work to prepare their classrooms and finalize their lessons plans. This is an exciting time of year for families, even if the kids are not quite ready for summer to be over so soon.

Education has long been a top priority in our state. According to the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), South Dakota's eighth grade reading and math scores rank among the highest in the nation for the 2009-2010 school year. Our schools do an excellent job of preparing children for life beyond primary and secondary school, including college, technical institutions, and careers in the public or private sector.

South Dakota's standard of excellence in the classroom is a prized tradition and we value our dedicated teachers, committed parents and hardworking students. Both of my parents were educators in Murdo and I saw firsthand how that dedication can impact students.

My wife and I are fortunate that both of our daughters were able to receive the high-quality education that the South Dakota public school system provides. For those parents sending your first child off to school, I remember it being harder on Kimberley and me than it was on our daughters, but don't forget to enjoy it as the years pass quickly. It is also important to remember that as parents we all play an important role in our children's education-ensuring that homework assignments are completed and being available to offer guidance and support.

After the school supplies are purchased, the class teachers are announced, and the afterschool activities are planned, let us all strive to make this year the best school year yet in South Dakota. The future of our state lies in the success of our children.