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Noem Slaps Together Vague Conference for Kids, Teachers, Women

A motivational speaker, an educational technologist, and a social justice warrior against sex-trafficking walk into a bar… and Kristi Noem calls it a conference.

How does Governor Kristi Noem respond to the Legislature’s charge that she’s not doing enough to improve academic achievement? By encouraging kids and teachers to skip school for a day and come to the hyrda-headed conference she’s throwing together in Sioux Falls!

Nothing says "This will be fun!" better than an empty plain offering no shelter from the looming dark storm clouds. Screen cap from "South Dakota Leads" tri-conference website, 2019.11.05.
Nothing says “This will be fun!” better than an empty plain offering no shelter from the looming dark storm clouds. Screen cap from “South Dakota Leads” tri-conference website, 2019.11.05.

South Dakota Leads” happens Monday, December 9, at the Sioux Falls Convention Center. According to Governor Noem, it is a student conference to “energize students to amplify the power they have to make a difference.”

But it’s also an educator conference to “encourage and motivate administrators, counselors, teachers, and school leaders at all levels” and remind them “of the power they hold to influence students’ lives.”

But it’s also a women’s conference to “empower women to lead in their communities” and hear “community and state organizations…  share about their missions and share information on how people can get involved.”

All three of these subconferences get talks from Utahn motivational speaker Clint Pulver, a Nebraskan sex-trafficking resistance group called The Set Me Free Project, and Microsoft. Governor Noem will speak at the end of the women’s conference at 5:50 p.m. Other speakers remain TBA.

It’s tough to figure out where to begin a critique of this proposed tri-conference because Governor Noem is having a tough time explaining what the conference is about.

I suppose we could take some hilarity from the fact that in a state which doesn’t require sex education and has high STD rates to prove it, we’re o.k. with our Governor hosting a conference to tell kids how to avoid being lured into sex slavery.

I suppose we could chuckle at Governor Noem’s idea that teachers should take a day of school and drive to Sioux Falls for one large-group presentation on “Addressing Classroom Challenges with [Microsoft] Technology” when Microsoft will provide that same training and much, much more to schools for free, in person or online, at much more convenience to our time- and cash-strapped schools districts.

I suppose we could sympathize with (not chuckle at, for they deserve no mockery) the teachers and chaperones who will be asked by the kids on the bus, “Hey, this conference we’re going to—what’s it about?” and will struggle to come up with a satisfactory explanation. (My recommendation: end with, “But hey, when we’re done, we’re having lunch at the food court in the mall!” That was all I needed to hear to justify a bus trip to Sioux Falls.)

Good lessons start out with meaningful and measurable objectives. Where are those objectives in the Governor’s tri-conference? Governor Noem’s December 9 event looks like an excuse to cobble together a bunch of ideas from different aides and agencies (the Department of Education and the Department of Social Services are the official tri-conference partners) that weren’t big enough to justify an event of their own.

If the Government Operations and Audit Committee is serious about overseeing the Department of Education, it should start by finding out who came up with this conference, how much the speakers are being paid, and whether taxpayers are footing the bill.


  1. Donald Pay 2019-11-05 09:02

    Let’s hope no one attempts to take Cleopatra’s picture. Uh, uh, Uh! One wonders whether Madison Howard will be allowed to attend, or is it just for the people who Cleopatra has bullied into silence.

  2. o 2019-11-05 09:31

    When governance fails, throw a rally?

  3. Adam 2019-11-05 11:24

    We really do have one of the very dumbest Governors ever. Her brain has as a higher percentage of empty space than the wide open empty state she thinks she ‘governs.’ She don’t realize though, how country people only govern themselves and that no one can ever tell them what to do as they are sovereign citizens and each country boy believes he is his own country.

    Just another reason NOT to be a Republican in South Dakota. Rural people are over represented in every facet of government and it keeps South Dakota poor and stupid.

    Country peeps have the hardest time seeing how being stupid keeps them poor.

  4. Jenny 2019-11-05 11:52

    Another Ice Queen rally.

  5. Moses6 2019-11-05 12:46

    I just want to thank the state for low wages as my kids left for higher paying jobs one remains but will probably leave some day to.Our state motto, should read we came to die not to buy.

  6. Robin Friday 2019-11-05 15:47

    I understand fully that it’s very biased of me, but I’m totally (as the kids say) disinterested in any conference at which Kristi Noem will be the keynote speaker, or actually any conference Kristi Noem “slaps together”. JMHO.

  7. Robin Friday 2019-11-05 15:53

    You’re kind of hard on us “country peeps”, Adam. Someone who says “she don’t realize” could learn a thing or two before he criticizes someone else based on where they live and pursue an honorable profession.

  8. Adam 2019-11-05 16:04

    I chose the term “country peeps” to resonate with the young people, and “she don’t realize” in order to resonate with the broken English white trash which is spread out all across the prairie.

    I’m trying to bridge the gap between these two demographics – best I can. It’s about time you woke grammar police folks get a clue.

  9. Robin Friday 2019-11-05 16:19

    Sorry, Adam, I don’t care about the word “peeps” at all, and secondly, you missed the entire point. Your post is full of grammatical errors and you don’t know as much as you think you do, and you’re seriously biased against rural people. And I don’t believe you that you “chose” the phrase “she don’t realize”, because I believe that’s the way you talk. So additionally, you are “covering up” which never bodes well on the “smarts” issue.

  10. Robin Friday 2019-11-05 16:22

    Additionally, Adam, you’re not “bridging” any gaps, and not trying very hard to do so when you call all people who live across the prairie “white trash”.

  11. Adam 2019-11-05 16:25

    Priceless. Robin’s so used to hearing and reading poor English, living out in the middle of nowhere, that she cant even imagine a person mocking rural speak – as accurately I did.

    [pat on my own back and HUGE ROFL]

  12. Robin Friday 2019-11-05 16:56

    Additionally, Adam, as to the “grammar police” comment: I usually don’t bother posters about their ignorance of proper spelling and grammar UNLESS the poster is overboard on the arrogance of trashing someone else.

  13. Robin Friday 2019-11-05 17:00

    It’s so amusing when someone trying to prove how much smarter he is than most around him gives away his ignorance in what he posts. I know I’m not being kind, but it has to be said.

  14. Debbo 2019-11-05 23:24

    Adam, your ignorance of Robin’s intelligence doesn’t make you look good. In addition, your relentless attacks on all rural people as stupid is in error. However, it points out your prejudices very well.

  15. Adam 2019-11-06 02:26

    Just so you folks (specifically Robin and Debbo) can understand the English language a little better, here’s a short lesson:

    “Spread out all across the prairie” does NOT mean “all people who live across the prairie.” You folks are naturally over(ly)-defensive, I get that, but make no mistake, the words I typed are NOT the words you are characterizing them to be – and I have no sympathy for your overgeneralizing, intentionally inaccurate, and baseless character assassination of the words I used.

    You mis-state my words, on purpose, because the truth really bothers you. I get that.

  16. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2019-11-06 12:43

    Donald, on Kristi’s fear of pictures, I wonder if they’ll put up a security checkpoint outside the convention hall to check for such dangers.

  17. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2019-11-06 12:45

    Robin, I share your lack of interest. It’s hard to imagine learning anything at an event “organized” by Kristi Noem. It’s hard to imagine learning anything from a “motivational speaker”, which is code for “not really an expert at anything other than entertainment.” This isn’t a learning event; it’s political theater.

  18. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2019-11-06 12:49

    If Kristi Noem understood how rural schools work, she’d recognize that she’s replicating programming that rural schools already put on for their students and staff but doing it less efficiently by making everyone drive to Sioux Falls instead of just logging onto Microsoft’s education website at their convenience from home.

    She’d also recognize that pulling kids out of class to hear a “motivational speaker” only deprives them of the opportunity to learn from the actual motivational speakers that their schools employ, the teachers who know the kids and teach them actual subject matter that will be on the tests, get them into college, get them jobs, etc. Kristi’s motivational speaker will take his pay to play some loud music, flash some lights, rouse emotions, and strive to leave some memorable impression of his own awesomeness as a speaker, but kids won’t actually actively learn or meet any concrete, measurable lesson objectives.

  19. John 2019-11-07 00:07

    Our governor acts like a consummate boomer. The put down was made for folks like her.
    She’s no idea what she’s doing. As a result SD will be left further behind.
    Glimpse at the AI future. It’s happening now and for the next 10-20 years.
    Support Andrew Yang to help citizens with the disruptive transitions brought about by the 4th industrial revolution.
    Consider: the video rental chain Blockbuster at its height employed over 66,000. It was in local towns, contributed to scouts, little league sports, it was a good neighbor. NETFLIX is a global corporation employing about 7,000 making no contributions to local communities. Now exponentially amplify those effects on steroids across the economy, businesses, and government.

  20. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2019-11-08 06:52

    John, could the Governor host a conference on that topic? Could she get together with Dakota Rural Action to talk about local self-sufficiency?

    I suppose I could extend the argument on Netflix’s harm to the local economy by noting that, thanks to Netflix, I’m less inclined to pay Midco more exorbitant fees for cable TV. ;-)

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