I’m not sure KSFY’s transcript is complete, but in her State of the State speech yesterday, Governor Kristi Noem appears not to have mentioned civics education, one of the hallmarks of her failed inaugural agenda. When it comes to fiddling with the curriculum, Noem now appears to think it’s more important to teach kids how to handle guns:
On a related note, in 2019, Game, Fish, and Parks began a pilot HuntSAFE program in schools across the state. The goal of the course is to teach students the responsible and safe handling of firearms as well as the values that come from being a true sportsman – values that should never be lost. We have 32 schools that are now certified to teach the program, up from just 8 schools in 2018. I’d love to see every school offer this program [Gov. Kristi Noem, State of the State Address, as published by KSFY, 2020.01.14].
The Governor does not appear to be saying she wants to require GF&P’s gun safety and hunting curriculum for graduation, thank goodness. But she continues to overblow the centrality of killing critters to our identity and prosperity:
I’m also pleased to announce that the bounty program we launched last year has been a success in more ways than one. Game, Fish, and Parks recently conducted a survey on South Dakotan’s perceptions* of the bounty program and the results were overwhelmingly positive. We’re getting more people involved in trapping and the outdoors. Hunting, trapping, and shooting are great American traditions, fundamental to the culture and success of our state. These traditions help kids develop respect for nature, for property rights, as well as for other people.
You know, Greta Thunberg seems to have developed a deep commitment to nature in South Dakota and across the globe, and as far as I know, she didn’t grow up hunting, trapping, or shooting. And shooting, hunting, and especially trapping are marginal activities: hunting participation has declined from a peak of 7.3% of the U.S. population in 1982 to less than 4% of the population in 2016, yet our economy has grown over the last forty years. The young people Governor Noem says she wants to keep in South Dakota are turning away from hunting and pursuing other outdoor interests. Young South Dakotans move to places like Minneapolis and Chicago not because they are looking for more chances to skin possum and gut pheasant but because they recognize there’s a lot more to a rich culture and successful economy than those activities. Expats can still still jet back to South Dakota for a weekend of shooting and carousing, then go back to Minneapolis or Denver for 363 days a year of job opportunities, big-league sporting events, concerts, bike trails, downtown shopping, and all the other culture and success they can enjoy in communities not built on illusions of frontier reënactment.
I welcome our public schools to teach kids about the rich variety of outdoor activities that students can enjoy throughout their lifetimes. But wielding guns and killing critters is not the only way to teach true sportspersonship and love of the outdoors. Such specific recreational activities are certainly not central to a complete education, good values, or economic success. Toward those ends, a real focus on serious civics education would be far more productive.
*Note that Governor Noem highlights perceptions of the her varmint bounty program. Percceptions are all she has to tout, because her program failed in its stated purpose of getting more young people to hunt and fish, failed in its stated purpose of increasing the pheasant count, and failed to offer any counterevidence to the conclusion of multiple scientific sources and our own GF&P experts that trapping raccoons, opossums, skunks, and other little predators cannot have any measurable impact on pheasant populations. A focus on perceptions fanned by the ceaseless flow of bushwah from Noem’s mouth is all Snow Queen Noem has left.