South Dakota’s public school system has long struggled with maintaining conservative family values due to the loyalties of top officials at the state’s Department of Education. This issue came to the forefront in 2021 when new social studies standards were introduced, heavily incorporating Critical Race Theory into the curriculum. Governor Kristi Noem called for an overhaul of the standards and last week the new standards were finally approved.
“Today is a wonderful day for the students in South Dakota. They are our future,” Governor Noem stated. “Now, they will be taught the best social studies education in the country, one that is a true accounting of our history. We want our children to have honest and factual classroom teaching so they can be engaged participants in our civil society for the rest of their lives.”
In May 2021, Noem became the first candidate and public official to sign onto the “1776 Pledge to Save our Schools,” in which she committed to keeping radical leftist policies out of the South Dakota education system. Following that pledge, in July 2021, Noem issued an executive order to officially ban CRT and action civics – which require students to engage in leftist activism to receive credits – from K-12 schools. The newly approved standards hold up to that executive order and maintain a fair and honest evaluation of America’s history – both its successes and failures.
The standards were drafted by the Social Studies Content Standards Commission, with former Hillsdale College professor William Morrisey at the forefront. The following goals were established to guide the new curriculum:
- “Genuine content in the form of specific stories, historical figures, maps, research, images, and historical documents;
- Sound skills for making sense of the past, understanding their neighbors, earning a livelihood, and exercising the rights and responsibilities of citizenship with prudence;
- Honest, balanced, and complete accounts of historical events and debates that foster a love of country that is not blind to faults; and
- History and civics instruction free from political agendas and activism.”
Noem believes the curriculum offers a fair accounting of American history without pushing a political agenda onto students, saying the standards “raise the bar for the breadth and depth of civics and history education.” She also believes the standards incorporate more diversity and culture than previous standards, significantly increasing the amount of Native American references as they relate to South Dakota’s history and America’s overall story.
“Critical race theory has no place in South Dakota schools. These ideas are un-American. We are ‘one nation, under God, indivisible,’ yet critical race theory seeks to divide us based on inaccurate revisions to our nation’s history,” Noem said in a 2021 press release.
We applaud Governor Noem for remaining faithful to her commitment to keeping leftist indoctrination out of the South Dakota school system. Our work in the education system is not over, but this is a major step in the right direction.