Peter Pischke Essay – Candidate for Sioux Falls School Board

I am blessed to live in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
The people of this town are kind, generous, and generally good folks to live with. We treat each other with decency, respect, and live by the Golden Rule.
So it is no surprise to me that the citizens I talk to almost all voice a grave concern towards our local government and school board.
Just like you, they are worried with the direction Sioux Falls have been heading. The corruption, complacency, and shenanigans taking place in our city government of late should worry anyone.
Some Problems
The School-board unfortunately mirrors the concern that is felt at the larger levels of local government. The meetings go quickly with little explanation given and less opportunity for public input. 
I was late getting to the SF School-Board meeting last week. I arrived less than 5 minutes late. Yet by the time I got there the period for public input was over. 
And while it is well and good that we give students the opportunity to learn skills for the workplace, we shouldn’t forget the primary reason for school: learning to think, read, write, and make rational empiric arguments. In essence, our School should be teaching our kids to live the principles of the Enlightenment:
The ability to reason using the scientific method (empiricism), Skepticism, Individualism, and self discipline. These principles give us and our kids the passion for learning that we all like to talk about having. 
Yet look at how our schools are fairing at something as simple as literacy. For years now our students fall behind the state when it comes to reading as a recent report on the Literacy in Action (LIA) program to the SF School Board Shows:
In 2017 only 44.6% of third grade students passed the English Language Arts Assessment (ELA). This is poor event against the state of South Dakota’s 47.8%.
The multi year for 2017 is a little better at 52.36%. Yet that still puts us far below any reasonable score a Sioux Falls citizen might have their children.
Lastly I’d like to point out something obvious that those in charge seem to be ignoring: the increasing rates of suicide among teenagers. During my sister’s senior year at least 2 of her classmates that she knew by name, committed suicide. And unfortunately there have been lots more since.
We have all read the news headlines this last year of mass shootings at high schools by current or former students. Just this morning a college student at South Dakota State University got arrested for threatening to commit mass murder at the home of the Jacks.
While everyone wants to focus on guns I think we are ignoring what is feeding this problem: the extremely poor mental and emotional health of our kids at public school.
I know from very personal experience how harsh kids can be to each-other and how horrible you can feel. We all know this is a big problem, yet few people offer any solutions.
If we want these shootings and suicides to stop we must help our students who struggle with mental and emotional illness.
My Proposed Solutions
1.To fix our school board meetings I hope to modernize the meetings by live streaming them concurrently online with the physical meetings and increase opportunities throughout the meetings for multiple opportunities for public input.
 I also would like our school board to better explain what is going on during the steps of the meeting, and not rush through the vote procedures.
2. I want more work done in our schools to help those students who are bullied or are bullies themselves. I want students to get the real help they need if they are suffering from emotional or mental illness.
Teachers (and some administrators) must be allowed to report concerns with their students. They should write down and report on any negative behaviors they are noticing. This shouldn’t be done to punish anyone but to get them the necessary counseling and if needed: medical help.
It is impossible to learn at school if you dread being at school. You’re passion for learning won’t alight if you feel unsafe, or unwelcome at class.
3. I also want classes at the High School level to be recorded and made available to students online so they can review past lectures and get caught up if they were sick and couldn’t make it to school.
We should use the power of the internet to enable the very best of learning. Remove any and all barriers to teachers and innovating students to use the internet to enhance the learning experience. 
Now a little about me:
I’m 28, physically disabled due to Chronic Pancreatitis. I’m also a graduate student working on my Masters in Journalism from SDSU.
This election run is actually the basis for my Masters Project (I’m writing a series of articles about what it is like to run for public office, especially as someone with physical limitations)
While you and I may disagree on policy at the national level, I think you will find that we both want the same thing for the Sioux Falls School Board: honesty, efficacy, a strong code of ethics. Men and Women who keep their word and do what they say. 
With me you have that commitment. And that promise.
By my Sacred Honor, if you elect me I will do my very best to make our school board reflect those principles and values that honest citizens of Sioux Falls share no matter their background or political stripes.
Thank you for your time, and thank you for your vote,
God Bless America, and God Bless Sioux Falls,
– Peter Vaughn Pischke


#1 The D@ily Spin on 03.12.18 at 12:07 pm

It is sad how kids grow up impoverished with an inferior education in a city with so much wealth. Much of the reason is single moms with low wages and pricey child care. The school board can address the issue but there’s lack of programs and funding. Where is the support promised from state casinos? Why can’t the city assist with lunch and after school programs? Why aren’t teachers paid better? Why are class sizes more than what a teacher can focus on? Answer some of these questions.

#2 The D@ily Spin on 03.12.18 at 12:17 pm

Sioux Falls has jobs. Low paying jobs with long hours and few benefits. You have a job but can’t afford to live here. It is no place to raise a family if you can’t afford to feed them and your children end up stuck here because of their inferior education. According to Huether we have concerts, indoor swimming, and tennis. We do but we can’t afford it and we can’t afford missing hours at our 2nd job. From elsewhere this town looks like nirvana but the truth is it’s a prison camp.

#3 "Very Stable Genius" on 03.12.18 at 7:54 pm

If I am not mistaken, I believe, when Mr. Pischke ran in 2016, he was the only SB candidate that supported using public funds for private education. I believe he aired that support at a Democratic Forum debate among the SB candidates that year. If that is the case, then this position is troubling, if he still maintains it, even though some of his other positions are right and or enlightening….

Also, not to mention, that the elephant link, in his aid, is telling enough in a race that is supposed to be non-partisan. Because often Republicans in Pierre try to give public funds to private education and any candidate who supports that is not a true friend of public education, I am afraid….

#4 anominous on 03.13.18 at 12:08 pm

Compare this with his last political incarnation… Here’s his old school board candidacy interview from 2016:

“Be sure to pray to know what the Lord would have you do. Ask him even whom you should vote for. I know we will all be the better for it.”

#5 Peter "Mega" Pischke on 03.13.18 at 8:00 pm

Hi readers and commenters,

First off: Thank you Scott for letting me , and so many others post stuff about their campaign. I greatly appreciate it and all the other great work you put towards helping our city.

I’ll try here to answer a few questions:

1. My last political incarnation is fine by me. There isn’t much I said then that I should be ashamed of. 2 years has helped me grow a bit more experienced and wiser.

I always will encourage people to use all the resources of their mind and faith to decide whom they will vote for.

2. This is a non-partisan race, and for the most part I’ve done pretty well keeping it there. While I make it no secret that I’m a Republican. I more so identify with my Conservative libertarian ideology than I do what letter I vote for on election day.

I’m more than happy to honestly explain my beliefs, views, and policy positions.

3. I do remember something about private schools receiving public funds.

On principle, as a libertarian, I find that enterprising private entities can often outperform larger public ones. If there was solid data that a certain school program being offered by a private company outperformed some current effort, than why not try it.

I’m cool with charter schools, and experimental models. I look at efforts such as Success Academy and the American Indian Public Charter School as something for our own public schools to aim at.

Anything that might go in front of me would of course be evaluated for it’s individual merit and put against its cost.

Plus considering the views of the other school board members, it is unlikely much of our school district funds would go to private schools.

#6 Peter "Mega" Pischke on 03.13.18 at 8:09 pm

While I agree that it is currently very expensive to raise kids in Sioux Falls (child care for example). The reasons for those costs aren’t something that the Sioux Falls school district should, or even could fix.

I agree the situation for many S.F. kids is problematic.

Sioux Falls already has pretty good after school programs. And they should be continued.

An ideal class size in my mind would be between 20 and 25. Right now the problem is that many of our schools are crowded. So I’m with the current board’s efforts at bringing about a new high school and elementary schools.

#7 Peter "Mega" Pischke on 03.13.18 at 8:13 pm

Here is a video by John Stossel about Success Academy, which is an amazing school organization.

#8 "Very Stable Genius" on 03.13.18 at 9:51 pm

“Plus considering the views of the other school board members, it is unlikely much of our school district funds would go to private schools.”

So in other words, if it was up to you, you would? The State doesn’t fund education well enough as it is. The last thing we need for our children is having elected school board members promoting that public education be denied additional funds to the advantage of private schools.

I want school board members to believe in public education. If a SB member believes in the privatization of education, then they are serving on the wrong board. Such a non believer needs to find their favorite private school or school system and go work for them….

And if you take funds from public education by handing it out to private schools, well, your dream of 20 to 25 students per class room all a sudden becomes a reality of 30 to 35 students per classroom, I am afraid…

And as far as John Stossel, well, he went from ABC to Fox which often is called the devolution of ones employment and commitment to fundamental fairness and the truth…

#9 Peter "Mega" Pischke on 03.15.18 at 12:28 am

If I missed a question, or if there are any more questions I am more than happy to answer them.

#10 Peter "Mega" Pischke on 03.15.18 at 12:31 am

I like public education, I am a product of public education for better or worse.

I attended a public university. Those teachers who really impacted my life were public teachers.

I’ve worked as a substitute teacher in our public schools and met wonderful kids and other teachers.

So to insist that I don’t understand or feel rightly about the importance of education is just name calling.

#11 Peter "Mega" Pischke on 03.15.18 at 12:41 am

The Success academy and the American Indian Public Charter school are incredible success stories. We should try to learn why these schools are so successful.

The fact that these private schools controlled by public school districts are excellent and noteworthy is a good thing.

Especially when we consider that they exist in some of the very worst school districts in the country.

We should innovate, experiment, and try different things out.

If something will improve our horrid ELA stats and give our students the passion for learning, aren’t you willing to try it.

Even if it happens to be “private”.

I’m not proposing we just give our funds without rules and contingencies. That we just throw money at some organization just because it is private (looking at you Paramedics Plus).

There would be substantial research, and plentiful testimony from experts before we would even vote on the thing.

My hope is that we can be wise and open-minded enough to consider lots of different options available to us.

#12 Peter "Mega" Pischke on 03.15.18 at 12:53 am

I should mention one last thing.

Stossel currently works at Reason Magazine. He is true to his Libertarian ways, and considers himself a “classic liberal”

On social issues you guys would agree on a whole lot of issues.

So I wouldn’t necessary put him off because he made the choice to work for Fox Business.

#13 "Very Stable Genius" on 03.15.18 at 12:10 pm

Well, when it comes to FOX, there are a lot of things that can be said, but when Mueller came out with his first indictments, FOX didn’t even cover them, rather they kept talking about a new emoji that incorrectly placed the cheese at the bottom of a cheeseburger…..

These academies that you talk about probably succeed because a ton of money was thrown at them. But if you rob the public system for these experimental academies, then it means less dollars for public education and less positive results for them.

Your belief structure should be running for the state legislature or working in private education. It should not be a part of the actual public school system. One does not join a church, a union, or a country club to destroy it.

What you might think is reinventing public education, is actually more costly, and will leave many more behind as a result, even as you cite a few academies as success stories…

#14 anominous on 03.15.18 at 2:33 pm

Peter, as a republican/libertarian are you for or against letting the kids out of school to demonstrate against the NRA? Also, do you support Lyndon Larouche’s organization?

#15 Peter "Mega" Pischke on 03.16.18 at 4:16 pm

Ideally I want our students to hear all sides of an argument and then use empiric reasoning to decide their point of view.

It would be awesome if the High Schools, for example, would have discussion and debates in class about school safety and guns. This way they learn how to think critically and also learn that those who disagree with them are normal students just like themselves.

Protest. Sure as long as people who are Pro-2nd Amendment are allowed to protest too.

A kid got his wrist broken in 2 places down in Minneapolis when he carried a “Trump” sign. Now he is effectively expelled and can’t come back to school because it is too dangerous.

We should of used the WalkOut, WalkUp, or whatever to teach kids about the bill of rights, and liberty. That the First Amendment is what enables all Americans to speak without fear of retaliation.

A boring compromise, but a safe compromise is what the school district chose to do.

Families and students that lean left aren’t happy but they did get to discuss the issue via word of mouth and social media.

But conservative families don’t feel overwhelmingly oppressed either.

So in that sense, the compromise was a bland, but safe, bet.

#16 Peter "Mega" Pischke on 03.16.18 at 4:25 pm

The guy that made the American Indian Public Charter School so dang successful despite the fact they were given no additional funds.

Charter Schools work by allowing parents to choose the public school in their metropolitan area that they hope will be best for the child.

It doesn’t mean that money is taken away from every school. It is still a public school system with just a different way of allocating those public funds.

The American Indian Public Charter School received the same budget it had back before the charter program was put into place.

I’m not proposing we put in a charter system. For one thing our city isn’t big enough that it necessarily requires it.

But I think we can learn a lot from the strategies that the school used to turn it around from one of the worst schools (located in the inner city btw) into the one of the top in all of California.

Dr. Ben Chavis’s book is a good read and I highly recommend it if you want to learn more about educational school policy.

#17 Peter "Mega" Pischke on 03.16.18 at 4:32 pm

Success Academy teaches mostly poor students, chosen by random lottery I might add, in New York City,

they receive less funds per pupil than the rest of the New York City Schools, $20k versus 14.5K

95 percent pass the state math test, and 84 percent pass the English test.

Again, here is another school that we should be trying to understand why it is so successful and learn from it.

Why it offends you because it is associated with the word “private” will never make sense to me.

All I care about is helping the Sioux Falls School District do its very best for all the kids in the District.

Only 44% of 3rd graders are considered literate according to the ELA test. That is relatively only half as successful as what Success Academy is doing.

Why not try to learn from that?