News Watch to host panel discussion March 3 on proposed Native-focused charter schools in S.D.

Click THIS LINK to be taken to a web page where you can sign up to watch the March 3 panel discussion live.

South Dakota News Watch is convening a panel of experts for an in-depth discussion of a legislative measure that would allow for use of taxpayer money to create two charter schools that would focus on Lakota Indian language, culture and history.

Development of the schools would be based on successful models in other states in which mostly Native American students — who often struggle in traditional K-12 public schools — are given a new path to learn and grow in a setting where their language and culture are core elements of the teaching.

Supporters say tax dollars are necessary to give the schools stability and consistency for a five-year trial run. Opponents, including the state school boards association, say the funding model is not sound and that governance issues remain a challenge to successfully creating the schools.

The measure, Senate Bill 139, has passed through state Senate and is awaiting a hearing in the House. This is the third year a form of this legislation has been proposed by Sen. Troy Heinert, D-Mission, a Rosebud Sioux tribal member who is minority leader in the state senate.

Heinert and others will come together on March 3 at 7:30 p.m. CT for a one-hour discussion of the charter school proposal. The panel will be hosted by News Watch as part of its ongoing “South Dakota Matters” series of polls and panel discussions. The event will follow publication of an in-depth News Watch article on the charter school proposal in the days prior to the panel discussion. CLICK HERE or the link above to register in advance to watch the discussion live. A recorded version of the discussion will be available on Facebook after the event.