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Be Honest and True, Kristi: Where Are the Radical Leftists and Lying Schools in South Dakota?

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.

Kristi Noem, tweet, 2021.09.20.
Kristi Noem, tweet, 2021.09.20.

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.


  1. Donald Pay 2021-09-22 11:04

    Can you imagine the number of pieces Janklow would leave that righty bully Kurtz in for dissing South Dakota’s curriculum standards process? And Noem? She just caves. “Not a leader Not a South Dakotan. No spine. Kristi Noem. Your Governor.”

  2. Donald Pay 2021-09-22 11:46

    I was probably the most left-wing school board member the Rapid City Area Schools ever had. Not only that, I was a card carrying member of the Sierra Club. So, the board had to decide on a General Science textbook. There were three candidates that teacher’s and administrators had recommended as adequate, but they recommended one that had a few statements in it the began much like this: “Environmentalists say that …..” Some took exception to those statements in a science book. They thought it was promoting “environmental activists,” rather than science. Now you might think that I would take umbrage, me being a so-called leftist environmentalist. No I didn’t. While I might have agreed with some of what the textbook said about environmentalists’ positions on issues, I had been involved in many environmental organizations and causes, and I knew from the scars that there isn’t one “environmentalist position” on anything. And I had worked against the mining industry, but I knew from their internal struggles, there wasn’t one position from their side of things either.

    Textbooks, particularly at the 9th grade level, inevitably tend to simplify things, to compartmentalize, but real issues and real life are not simple or can’t be put into simple boxes Scientific findings often lead to policy discussions. Just look at the vaccine discussion we’ve been having. And it’s good to have students probe their ability to go from scientific data to potential policy, but don’t label it one thing or the other.

  3. O 2021-09-22 11:49

    I would LOVE to have Governor Noem sit with Paul Harnes and have her question each and every element of the new social studies standards that are not, in her view, “honest and true”; then allow Paul to defend (or acknowledge if need be). You could sell tickets!

  4. grudznick 2021-09-22 12:52

    Mr. Harens says

    In South Dakota we don’t have any radical leftists.

    Mr. Harens, one time a good debater, has lost this debate. grudznick has ruled. To wit: Mr. H still lives in South Dakota.

  5. Porter Lansing 2021-09-22 12:57

    Kristi Noem is an attested anchor, keeping SD firmly secured to the wrong side of history.

  6. Donald Pay 2021-09-22 13:40

    Action civics? This seems to be a big issue with the communist right. The question is why? For some reason the commies in the Republican Party want young people to sit at TAR camps listening to Maria Bultena ( R-Russia) talk about the Second Amendment, as she inculcates students with the wonderfullness of Russia. Action civics? They bus Christian school students and home schoolers into legislative hearings on issues such as abortion and abstinence education. Later in the day I watch two such students up in the gallery, where they canoodle, as he tries for third base, while she giggles. Action civics? Noem invites teen pages into her home to expose them to her particular brand of lying. Action civics? Every legislative session students groups from public schools tour the Capitol, listen in on committee hearings and watch floor sessions. In South Dakota, we call that “civics,” but the communist right doesn’t particular like it. Huh?

    Action civics has been a mainstay of the right for decades. I’ve seen it. When the legislature ends the page and intern programs, and closes the hearings to righty teens, that’s when we’ll see the end of “action civics.”

  7. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2021-09-22 13:52

    Excellent, Donald. Kristi only supports active civic participation when its done with her ideological goals, not when its directed toward teaching all kids the basic skills of democracy and inviting them to participate in shaping their society whatever way their critical thinking skills lead them to believe is just, beneficial, and practical.

  8. mike from iowa 2021-09-22 14:14

    Honest and true are two words never uttered in the same sentence about any magat.

  9. ArloBlundt 2021-09-22 15:30

    Well…in South Dakota it is impossible to be “too far to the right.” Being a member of the NRA, the John Birch Society, and an anti Equal Rights Amendment organization is commensurate with being a member of Kiwanis. You are a main stream South Dakotan,But…join the Democratic Party, the League of Women Voters, or the Issac Walton League and you are immediately suspect as a dangerous “radical leftist”. If you join the American Association of Retired Persons, a Women’s Rights or other Civil Rights organization, or are known to donate money to social activist organizations like Lutheran Social Services or Catholic Charities, or belong to a Labor Union, then surely, and beyond a doubt, you are a ” radical leftist” and must be shunned and closely monitored by all freedom loving citizens. You are a threat and a menace to all right thinking, God fearing, Gun Loving, South Dakotans.

  10. Francis Schaffer 2021-09-22 16:04

    Hey Kristi how do we restore true American and South Dakota history if that hasn’t been agreed upon yet? And exactly who is competing for this if we must win it?

  11. Donald Pay 2021-09-22 16:47

    When I was on the Rapid City school board, I got calls from parents. Fine. I loved their input, even if I ended up voting a different way. I found out the biggest supporters of girls athletics are dads of girls. So, yeah, I took parent ideas into account, and often advocated for their ideas, like a stop light on a dangerous school crossing. I was dumbfounded that I got very few calls from students. We were planning to cut orchestra. No kids called me, but parents lobbied hard. That shows a complete failure of civics education in my view. It also shows that orchestra teachers didn’t push their students into calling school board members. See, I wanted calls from students in orchestra, who could tell me what they got out of the program. I wanted some “action civics.”

    My daughter, of course, lobbied me hard on issues, but I had to bring them up, and ask her opinion. Even as a senior she paid little attention to who actually set policy on, for example, banning spaghetti straps. She thought is was dumb that we spent time on that. Even where kids opinions would be highly relevant, like what goes into the student handbook, they didn’t reach out. They didn’t even know they could. We are failing at civics. When people think an election where their choice lost was stolen, it’s clear those folks didn’t have a good civics course.

  12. larry kurtz 2021-09-22 16:54

    When local journalist Abby Wargo took over the education beat at the Rapid City Journal in February, school board meetings were sparsely attended and she was often the only reporter there. During her final school board meeting on Sept. 7, outlets from across South Dakota covered the contentious gathering. It was also at that meeting where the 5-foot-2 reporter was surrounded by a crowd of anti-COVID-protection protestors who yelled at her until she left when she tried to ask them questions.

  13. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2021-09-22 17:23

    Larry’s quote from Iowa about the crowd’s bullying of reporter Abby Wargo shows how Kristi’s base will use blatant thuggery to achieve its goal of destroying o=honest education and suppress honest reporting about their agenda.

  14. mike from iowa 2021-09-22 17:46

    If you have AIDS and know it and deliberately infect others, you can go to prison. Why is that not the same for covid, which is also a known killer?

  15. grudznick 2021-09-22 17:50

    That is a good point, made by Mr. mike, who is one of the deepest thinkers in Iowa.

  16. mike from iowa 2021-09-22 19:16

    A-Butt has done it again in Texass…

    The crap law prohibits teaching “certain concepts about race,” presumably that racism existed and still exists as an institutionalized part of American society and its criminal justice system. Yeah, that’s just crazy talk. The law develops a “civics training course” for educators, so they’ll have the skills necessary to, we guess, teach students how to bark the Pledge of Allegiance on command like gifted and talented seals. Schools are mostly barred from giving credit to students for any advocacy work. Here’s the kicker: The law “urges educators to teach only that slavery and racism are ‘deviations’ from the founding principles of the United States.”

    Last sentence is telling. True and honest? Not perxactly.

  17. happy camper 2021-09-23 07:42

    Our realities are being tested but on the important things most of us can agree. The problem is Trump and the Republicans are pushing us to a precipice so the Democrats have to do the right thing for the bulk of the country not their leftist minority within their own party. Cory is so far left everyone in the state appears right to him the only people more radical are his out of state cronies. Mike From Kentucky, oh, I mean Iowa. Guess what the adults in the room are going to have to stand up against the lies, this can’t continue to influence our electorate. The Republicans are going to have to be honest with their constituents even if they are afraid. They will have to show their character and do the right thing for the good of the country. This is a quote from Trump made yesterday:

    “I spent virtually no time with Senators Mike Lee of Utah, or Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, talking about the 2020 Presidential Election Scam or, as it is viewed by many, the “Crime of the Century.” Lindsey and Mike should be ashamed of themselves for not putting up the fight necessary to win. Look at the facts that are coming out in Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and other States. If this were Schumer and the Democrats, with the evidence we have of Election Fraud (especially newly revealed evidence), they would have never voted to approve Biden as President, and had they not, all of the mistakes that were made over the last month, which are destroying our Country, would not have happened. Mike Lee, Lindsey Graham, and all of the other Republicans who were unwilling to fight for the Presidency of the United States, which would have included at least an additional four Republican Senators, two in Georgia, one in Michigan, one in Arizona, are letting the Democrats get away with the greatest Election Hoax in history—a total con job! ”

    “We are losing our Country! The Democrats are vicious and fight like hell, and the Republicans do nothing about it. RINOs fight harder against Republicans than they do against Democrats. They want to be so politically correct, even if that means losing our Country, which is happening now. The evidence on determinative and wide-ranging Election Fraud is staggering. Your Republican Presidential candidate won in a landslide, but has so little backing from Republican “leadership.” They should be ashamed of themselves. Why don’t they have hearings? Or even if just Republicans had open public sessions, we would all hear the irrefutable facts. Remember, the Fake News Media does not report the truth!”

  18. happy camper 2021-09-23 23:42

    The thing is, it’s the radical portion of each party that is the problem. And what’s nuts is why either party wants to have anything to do with Trump on that side, or anything to do with Radical Leftism on the Democratic side. They don’t fit in either party but each is flirting for a few more votes even though it is obviously destabilizing the country. The bulk of Americans are moderates from either party but the Loudmouth Leftists along with their Tea Party cousins who look a lot more like twins these days and have a lot more in common with each other than they realize. Two groups of Stubborn Dummies who would rather blow it up than find middle ground and cooperate. These two groups can’t do it.

  19. cibvet 2021-09-24 00:55

    HC–Perhaps you could elaborate on what you consider “Radical Leftism” and “Loudmouth Leftists” or are you just repeating the diatribes from fox and newsmax pundits.

  20. happy camper 2021-09-24 06:59

    I don’t watch Fox News. It comes down to this, it’s a perspective moderates see and understand, but radicals can’t. These are my own observations. Not one ounce of trying to understand the dynamics just a desire to get what you want without the hard work of give and take. Never compromise. Neither side is interested in that all those old movies come to mind like Charleton Heston when we find out he was on Earth the whole time. The situation is grave. We can’t let radicals from the left and right take down the country. Filmmaker Ken Burns says the situation in the US is as bad now as before the Civil War these two groups would rather fight and watch America crumble. Burns quote “It’s really serious. There are three great crises before this: the Civil War, the Depression, and World War II. This is equal to it.” Burns referenced a speech by Abraham Lincoln in 1838 about whether the United States would be crushed by some trans-Atlantic military giant, in which the future president said:

    “Never. All the armies of Europe, Asia and Africa could not by force take a drink from the Ohio River or make a track on the Blue Ridge in the trial of a thousand years. No, if destruction be our lot we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of free men, we will live forever or die by suicide.”

    With benign neighbours to the north and south, and two oceans providing a “geographical forcefield”, Burns agreed that if the US goes to “hell” it would be from within its own borders. “And we’re, you know, we’re looking right down the muzzle of that gun.”

    I would add, if you refuse to accept the role you’re playing, then you’re a traitor too. A traitor to The Constitution and this noble experiment that right now is under siege.

  21. O 2021-09-24 08:18

    Happy, your comments only go to show radicalization of the GOP. There is no daylight between the “radical” right and the GOP rank and file. Your party has achieved its ultimate goal: no diversity (of opinion).

  22. cibvet 2021-09-24 10:08

    HC–The year of 2021 is a year that many Americans have exercised their right to freedom of choice and chosen to die by suicide.(anti-vax).
    I an OK with that. What I am NOT ok with, is their radical right selfishness to infect others. Some how they conflate their ignorance to be equal to intelligence.
    If that is radical leftism, I plead guilty with no apology.

  23. Donald Pay 2021-09-24 10:28

    Happy, you’re so compromised, you really don’t know what you’re talking about. Obamacare: based on a Republican concept. It was so compromised that many of us progressives had to hold our nose to support it. Because it did good for many people who didn’t have access to decent medical coverage, we compromised. Yet moderate Democrat, Rep. Herseth Sandlin voted against it, because she couldn’t see the good it would do for people, and was more concerned about her re-election. She deserved to lose for that cowardice and lack of foresight.. And that’s what I see on the “moderate” side of things. They throw away good policy and good government for their own selfish interests.

    I hate the physical infrastructure bill. It includes a lot of stuff I can’t stand, but there’s a lot that’s good, so I’d probably have to cast an unenthusiastic vote for it, but not unless the far better $3.5 trillion bill passes, too. And that $3.5 trillion bill has already been compromised down from $6.0 trillion. Again, the moderates think the things the big bill does are fine. They have no real differences with the progressive on the programs. They have a problem with the ads that the Republicans are going to run against them in the election. THAT is not a reason to vote against the bill.

    Compromise is good if it comes from a good place. If you can improve a program or suggest alternatives, great. But when all you do is whine and complain and have no alternatives, you ain’t compromising. You’re the problem. Happy, I haven’t seen any reason you give for why further compromises should be made other than to whine about compromise and elections. That’s a gutless and stupid reason to compromise. Offer some alternatives or shut the eff up.

  24. O 2021-09-24 11:13

    Donald, I agree with your view of what “compromise” has become in DC. With the GOP ad zero – do NOTHING – is has transformed “compromise” into scale down to get as close to nothing as to be ineffectual to answering the problem at hand.

  25. bearcreekbat 2021-09-24 11:29

    I have repeatedly asked variations of cibvet’s question, in an effort to find a factual basis for the claims of some commenters about “Radical Leftism” and “Loudmouth Leftists.” I have yet to get a straightforward answer with factual examples, so Happy’s dodging the question is not particularly surprising.

    The quest to discover factual examples of comprable “Radical Leftism” and “Loudmouth Leftists” policies advocated by any Democrats that compare to the craziness advocated by mainstream Republican party/Trumpism (such as fraudulent election/Trump is still president, anti-vax/freedom to infect others, anti-immigrant fear mongering, no meaningful gun restrictions/armed revolution, among other mainstream Republican/Trumpist policy positions) remains open and unanswered.

    While there will always be a few crazy people who are free to call themselves Democrats or Republicans (e.g. folks who claim Democrats eat babies), these folks are not representative of any aspect of either party. But more representative Republican current positions seem to have developed a life of their own that lacks even a marginally close equivilant in the Democrat’s arena.

    So, however, you want to phrase it, such as “both sides do it” or “Radical Leftism” and “Loudmouth Leftists” or whatever, absent some factual examples supporting this notion that I have not discovered on my own I have to agree that claims Happy and other that “both sides do it” are in fact “just repeating the diatribes from fox and newsmax pundits,” just as cibvet suggested.

  26. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2021-09-24 13:53

    I’m not really that far left. It’s South Dakota’s radical one-party regime and the cowed silence of South Dakota’s moderates that makes anyone who speaks up appear to be far left.

    I’m still wondering, like cibvet and bcb, where the radical leftists are who are running and ruining South Dakota education.

  27. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2021-09-24 13:55

    Hap’s quote from Trump has nothing to do with reality in South Dakota. It actually sounds like the opposite of reality in South Dakota, which is the point of this article: Kristi adopts these national talking points that echo her party’s Dear Leader but which are not grounded in the facts of life and policy and institutions in South Dakota.

  28. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2021-09-24 13:56

    Hap’s both-sidesism is more distracting bunk. Where is the other side in South Dakota? We have radical right-wing Republicans and opportunist Republicans in charge of everything. Where are the radical leftists? Where are they flexing their power in any meaningful way?

  29. O 2021-09-24 14:35

    In fact, I’ll take it one step further, I would like to hear what the “radical right” believes/stands for that the “rank-and-file/middle right” do not. Debunk my thesis that the radical right IS the totality of the right, and the right has gaslighted (gaslit?) the nation to believe that is the middle/norm.

  30. Donald Pay 2021-09-24 15:45

    Really, I’m not that far left, either. When I analyse myself on some of these click-bait surveys, I come out liberal, but not leftist. It depends on the issue. I like a regulated free market for most things. I hate the socialism of the 1872 Mining Act, which gives foreign companies the right to come onto public land (no bidding), strip mine our minerals without paying anything to the federal government, then leave without reclaiming the toxic waste dumps and Superfund sites they leave behind. I hacked through days breathing the air polluted by the South Dakota Socialist Cement Plant. Not a fan. Their priority was to give money to the General Fund, and let the people of Rapid City die early. I don’t like a lot of deficit spending. On that I’m far more conservative than the Republicans, but my spending priorities are different from those of most conservatives. On abortion I’m in the middle. You go down any issue, and I’m probably more moderate than Happy Camper.

  31. mike from iowa 2021-09-24 15:58

    From heather Cox Richardson via Sheila Kennedy….. Here is a far righty speaking about school boards…

    Richardson also quoted one Steve Lynch, a candidate for Northampton County executive, for the following “advice:” “Forget going into these school boards with freaking data. You go into these school boards to remove them. I’m going in with 20 strong men and I’m gonna give them an option—they can leave or they can be removed.”

    He seemed nice.

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