Governor Kristi Noem today announced that Dr. Ben Jones has been appointed as the permanent Secretary of Education. Jones has been serving as Interim Secretary of Education since January 2019.
“I’ve been impressed with Ben’s work in the first four months we’ve served together, and I’m pleased he’s on board moving forward,” said Noem. “Ben shares my desire to ensure every South Dakota student has access to a quality education.”
“I appreciate the confidence Governor Noem has in me to lead this department and the dedicated professionals who make it their work to help our students, teachers and administrators,” said Jones. “It’s bittersweet to be leaving my position at DSU, but the opportunity to help Governor Noem enhance the lives of the next generation of South Dakotans is something I couldn’t pass up” [Office of the Governor, press release, 2019.05.07].
Secretary Jones’s impressive work includes his complete failure to pass any of Governor Noem’s much ballyhooed (or is that hallway-booed?) civics education agenda passed in the 2019 Legislature. But when you’re Jon Lauck’s neighbor, you don’t need to produce results.
In announcing that she’s taking Dr. Jones away from DSU for good, Governor Noem claims Jones has been “key in developing the ‘Week of Work’ program,” another Bolsonaran initiative she one-offed in her first State of the State Address as a proposal to take even more class time away from high school teachers trying to teach civics as we dispatch kids to do someone else’s dirty work. I have yet to see any sign that this developing program has been finalized or deployed. Maybe they’re still working on the name, because, “Week of Work”?—sure, that’s a name that will get kids excited. Perhaps it comes from Noem’s expectations of herself and her family members employed in state government.