I can understand pundits from the national conservatariat lazily spouting their boilerplate about “hard-left activists” taking over education in South Dakota. Most conservatives nowadays aren’t living in reality, and the ones writing for National Review certainly aren’t living in South Dakota (even though we’re supposedly such a great state for Freedom™ and Business™… hmmm…), so I wouldn’t expect to understand, let alone feel a journalistic commitment to, discussing reality in South Dakota. Unlike Dakota Free Press, National Review‘s agenda isn’t factual reporting or practical policy improvement; it’s peddling of its ideology and piddling on pols like Kristi Noem who seem insufficiently committed thereto.
So why would Kristi Noem, who brands herself as an honest and true South Dakota girl, adopt her piddlers’ most out-of-touch, most ridiculous language? Tweeting after she ordered the delay of her own whitewashed K-12 social studies curriculum standards Monday, our Governor said she took that radical action because, “In every state, radical education activists are scheming” to impose critical race theory and action civics.
As with Noem’s previous absurd declarations that South Dakota’s public schools are fetid and failing leftisseries, we must ask our Governor, Governor, who are the radical education activists in South Dakota? Where are they? Which schools and school boards do they control? Which students in which schools have been taught dishonest and false [yes, still redundant, but Kristi is really hitched to this particular redundancy] American and South Dakota history?
Paul Harens, a former Yankton teacher and member of the big committee that produced the first draft of the revised standards, says Noem and the right-wing pundits she’s aping can’t be talking about him… or, as far as he knows from his decades of work in South Dakota education, about anybody involved in our schools:
Harens took care to note during the interview that he is not a ‘radical leftist’ as implied by the National Review, but rather a registered republican.
…”The [National Review] goes in-depth basically talking about the people who were doing the work — calling us radical leftists. In South Dakota we don’t have any radical leftists. We have people who care about the children, and that was our goal; was to do what was best for the children of South Dakota” [Jacob Newton, “‘We Don’t Have Radical Leftists’: Education Standards Workgroup Member Discusses Delay of Standards,” KELO-TV, 2021.09.21].
And of course, if radical leftists had any influence in South Dakota education, you wouldn’t be hearing from Harens; you’d be hearing from lots of other standards committee members. Instead, says Harens, he’s the one speaking up from the safety of retirement because the younger members of the committee are afraid they’ll lose their jobs if they speak up against the one-party regime:
Harens said that the rhetoric surrounding the revisions, as well as the conflict between the workgroup and the state, has led to some individuals feeling as though their employment is at risk. He said that this was part of the reason he decided to speak up [Newton, 2021.09.21].
There are no radical leftists trying to tear down education in South Dakota. There are only honest and true teachers trying to produce honest and true education for children and having their honest and true work fouled by Kristi Noem and other dishonest and false and out-of-touch ideologues using them as strawman punching bags.