Republican Appropriators made a fuss over nothing last week when they issued a grandstanding letter to the Department of Education last week warning them not to seek any federal money for civics education. Education Secretary Tiffany Sanderson tells Bob Mercer her department never intended to seek any federal money for its civics efforts:
“We did not have any intent to apply for the federal grant that’s open right now for civics and history education at the federal level. In fact, Dr. Jones who’s our state historian and myself are submitting comments during the public comment period on the U.S. Department of Education’s priorities for those grants,” she said. “Some of the activities that are encouraged through the grants don’t align with our expectations for learning in South Dakota and so we’ve made note of that through the public comment process” [Bob Mercer, “South Dakota Didn’t Plan to Seek Federal Grants to Schools That Are Targeted in Legislators’ Letter,” KELO-TV, 2021.05.19].
The Republican authors of the letter didn’t even bother to talk with Secretary Sanderson to find out if what they say they are worried about had any basis in fact:
Asked whether the legislators’ letter surprised her, Sanderson paused for a few moments and replied, “At this point I haven’t had any legislators sit down to talk through what they’re thinking, and I’ve made the offer — let’s have some conversations in advance of the 2022 session, so that we can come together with any legislation or policy priorities that are important” [Mercer, 2021.05.19].
Once again, ignorant Republican legislators are listening to bogeymen instead of their own officials.
Related Pleading: Alas, NSU political science professor Jon Schaff notes that the conservative National Review views our GOP’s grandstanding as “a model for other states” for “pushing back” against a problem that does not exist.