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Noem’s Bill Does Not Ban Critical Race Theory

Determined to distract us from her nepotism and socialist hypocrisy, Governor Noem issued her third culture-war draft legislation since last Monday. Following up on a school prayer bill last Monday and a retread transgender-hate bill last Tuesday, Noem today trumpeted her draft legislation “to block Critical Race Theory (CRT) as the basis of education for South Dakota students.”

But as usual, when Kristi starts talking about fighting “critical race theory”, she’s overtagging every card. Her own fourth chief of staff, now member of the Board of Regents, Tony Venhuizen said last summer: “Critical Race Theory is not the basis for instruction in our state universities and it’s not going to be.” Noem has never provided a specific example of any South Dakota college, high school, or elementary school curriculum based on critical race theory.

But even if some critical race theory is out there, Noem’s bill wouldn’t ban it. Here: read the bill, and see if you can find the part that lives up to Noem’s fanfare and the hopes of her Republican caucus that South Dakota would actually ban critical race theory from our schools:

Gov. Kristi Noem, draft legislation to "protect students from critical race theory," 2021.12.20.
Gov. Kristi Noem, draft legislation to “protect students from critical race theory,” 2021.12.20.

Noem’s bill does not say, “No one can teach, discuss, or read about critical race theory.” Noem’s bill does not mandate burning every copy of Ibram X. Kendi‘s writing. Noem’s bill does not ban teachers and professors from following the Navy’s lead and requiring every student to read How to Be an Antiracist. Noem’s bill does not stop any instructor from assigning this essay topic: “Give one concrete and detailed example of institutional racism in South Dakota and explain how critical race theory can inform activism and public policy to remedy that institutional racism.”

Perhaps warned by her lawyers that an explicit ban on a valid and useful idea would trigger a 21st-century Scopes Monkey Trial in which Noem and South Dakota would come out looking like the monkeys, Noem does not propose to ban the teaching of critical race theory. Instead, she proposes banning the strange practice—unheard of in most classrooms—of mandating that students “personally affirm, adopt, or adhere to” certain “tenets.”

Tenets. Pause a moment. Think about that word, tenets, and your own education. Can you recall any teacher (other than maybe the nuns at your Catholic school, and they get special dispensation) who forced you to personally affirm any specific philosophical or religious belief?

At Madison High School, Joe Austin didn’t force me to believe in the Pythagorean Theorem; Pythagoras sure helped answer the test questions correctly, but if I walked out of class shouting, “A squared plus B squared equals C squared plus pi!” the venerable Mr. Austin would have invited my proof.

At South Dakota State University, Dr. John Miller didn’t compel me to believe that all valid historical writing must refer to Fighting Bob LaFollette. We students of Dr. Miller were free to more deeply explore Fighting Bob’s legacy or focus our attention on other notable American progressives, conservatives, or cranks.

Kristi Noem went to high school at the same time I did, in a town an hour’s drive away. Kristi Noem got her degree from SDSU, just like I did. Neither Kristi nor I can provide examples of any of our teachers or our kids’ teachers successfully forcing any student to adopt any belief. Yet Kristi thinks she must pass a law to protect kids from this figment of her imagination.

So far down the rabbit hole already, Noem and her supporters will never notice that the actual “tenets” she pretends to ban with her bill are not critical race theory:

  1. That any race, color, religion, sex, ethnicity, or national origin is inherently superior or inferior.
  2. That individuals should be adversely treated or feel discomfort, guilt, anguish, or any other form of psychological distress because of their race, color, religion, sex, ethnicity, or national origin.
  3. That individuals, by virtue of race, color, religion, sex, ethnicity, or national origin, are inherently responsible for actions committed in the past by other members of the same race, color, religion, sex, ethnicity, or national origin [ideas Kristi Noem would ban from South Dakota schools, in Noem, 2021.12.20].

I can think of no example in which any teacher in South Dakota has tried to compel me or any student I know to believe such strange ideas. I can think of no instance when I have, as a teacher in any South Dakota classroom, or any other teacher I know  has required any student to ascribe to any such strange idea. If anyone is preaching such strange ideas, it may be Kristi Noem herself, who lords her religion over every public school child, who discomfits and dehumanizes people of non-American national origin, and who marks as enemies of “fairness” South Dakotans whose conception of their own sex does not align with her binary thinking.

Maybe we could expand Kristi Noem’s bill to protect us from Kristi Noem.

But we must be clear about one thing: Kristi’s three taboo tenets are not critical race theory. As I said when the Board of Regents evaded Noem’s push to ban valid social theories last summer, critical race theory is all about rejecting claims of superiority or inferiority inherent in any racial identification. Critical race theory does not seek to blame individuals; critical race theory seeks to liberate all individuals from oppressive systems. That liberation depends on an honest recognition of unpleasant historical facts which may well cause anguish among those properly sensitive to injustice or those previously desensitized to injustice by their privilege-colored glasses, but that anguish is a side effect, not the ultimate aim, of critical race theory.

Even if Noem understood what critical race theory is, she could not find any actual critical race theory in our schools to attack. But she’s not really talking about critical race theory or anything else that South Dakota teachers are doing or even could do if they tried. She’s just cooking up crazy talk to keep her fellow-ill-read Republicans in a froth, hoping no one notices that she’s tilting at her own windmills.

*     *     *

Trivial Observations:

  1. I do like the line in Section 2 that prohibits distinguishing or classifying students according to race or color. I would interpret that to mean that the next time white fans start shouting racial epithets at any school activity or on school grounds, aggrieved parties could call the Governor, who would be obliged to demand that the hosting university or school district return all of its state funding. Providing a forum for such racist classification from the bleachers clearly violates Section 3, and the Governor must hold schools accountable for violating her law.
  2. On the bright side, Team Noem appears to have figured out how to post PDFs to their own state website instead of using a private vendor who forced citizens to sift through Gucci ads to access public information.


  1. Porter Lansing 2021-12-20

    Noem’s position is pure white supremacy, on paper.
    It says, “That any race, color, religion, sex, ethnicity, or national origin is inherently superior or inferior.”
    It should say, “That any race, color, religion, sex, ethnicity, or national origin is inherently treated as superior or inferior.”:
    That’s the crux of the biscuit, KristiKins.
    Minorities in USA are treated as inferior by a governmental system set up by white males to benefit the male children of white males.
    e.g. A black man trying to buy a new house, car, or computer pays more and is treated worse than any financial level of white person, anywhere.
    In Short: White people in America are treated by the government as superior to Black, Indigenous, and People of Color.
    ~ No matter how much Noem tries to change history, she’ll always be on the wrong side of it. ~

  2. Amy B. 2021-12-21

    So basically she’s written another smoke and mirrors piece of legislation to give the appearance she’s being a good Republican without really doing anything. It sure has gotten her out of state fan club cheering for her. But is it really her writing things or is there someone in the shadows guiding her and whispering in her ear. This kind of thing seems all to familiar.

  3. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2021-12-21

    On white supremacy: this bill is a prop to white supremacy, because Noem is trying to prevent teachers from talking about the systemic racism that protects white supremacy. Losing privilege is scary. It feels bad. Kristi doesn’t want her Hitler Youth to be made to feel bad about their enjoyment of their privilege. Such bad feelings could induce the youth to awaken and grow into believers in equality who would dismantle their privilege.

  4. John 2021-12-21

    Square NOem’s pretzel knot between her proposed legislation missives.

    In NOem’s first, our not-ready-for-prime-time governor is all for the state’s discrimination on the basis of sex and her sexual phobias. See:

    Then NOem pretends advocating for no discrimination, or no superiority or inferiority based upon sex (and other conditions).

    Logic shows that NOem’s flawed CRT proposed legislative rant, nullifies her transphobia proposed legislative rant.
    She’s at war with her own beliefs as her bezel ring is unmoored from rational thought.

  5. larry kurtz 2021-12-21

    $50 million for NDN Collective in part to bring lawsuits against my home state and its Republican evildoers is a shot across the extreme white wing’s bow. South Dakota is complicit in crimes of ethnic cleansing and genocide therefore is liable for reparations so Noem and the Council for National Policy are doing everything they can to put off settling cases like the Black Hills Claim.

  6. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2021-12-21

    John, she could only be at war with her own beliefs if she had actual beliefs. The contradictory logic of her own statements show she is just a machine regurgitating talking points that her handlers tell her will increase her attention, donations, and votes.

    Larry, I’d love for NDN Collective to establish standing against this bill and sue. But given the misdirection and unenforceability of Noem’s proposal, I’m not sure there will be anything to sue about.

  7. Porter Lansing 2021-12-21

    White Privilege On Paper
    That individuals, by virtue of race, color, religion, sex, ethnicity, or national origin, are inherently responsible for actions committed in the past by other members of the same race, color, religion, sex, ethnicity, or national origin [ideas Kristi Noem would ban from South Dakota schools, in Noem, 2021.12.20].

    It means: white people don’t need to remember the wrongs previous white people did to non-white people because white people are special.

  8. John 2021-12-21

    CRT guardians advise each other to, “Look out for the trigger words,”
    “‘Equality,’ ‘diversity,’ ‘inclusion,’ ‘marginalization,’… These words are CRT. If you see these words in your kids’ homework, you need to speak out.”

    A woman attended a local right-wing suburban moms meeting – folks who are, “bent on protesting at school board meetings to stop the supposedly evil critical race theory agenda from being taught in public schools and address other typically conservative concerns.”

    Using their malleable definitions much of the US Constitution and Declaration of Independence are dens of “trigger words”.

  9. DaveFN 2021-12-21

    “And all of her [deadhead] followers sat back with arms crossed, nodding their approval at just how on top of the issues she was.”

  10. Donald Pay 2021-12-21

    The bill would prohibit teaching the US Constitution, and US History. How do you deal with the 3/5ths compromise without violating Section 1?

  11. Donald Pay 2021-12-21

    I just read your link back to Madville Times on remaining my old grade school (Mark Twain) after Karl Mundt. Apparently I wasn’t reading Madville Times at that point or I would have unloaded on that idea. My view is that naming schools after authors promotes reading, whereas naming schools after politicians promotes disgust.

    In Madison, WI, we just changed the name of James Madison Memorial High School because James Madison was a slave owner and the originator of the 3/5ths compromise in the Constitution. The school board did this exactly because when this was taught in schools, students wondered why the district was honoring a man, who in so being honored, violated tenet (2) of Section 1 of this bill.

  12. mike from iowa 2021-12-21

    magats still have not identified a single public school that is teaching CRT and they never will since it doesn’t happen.

  13. Mark Anderson 2021-12-21

    Come on folks, Noem needs to keep up with her fellow traveller MAGAs. She doesn’t know anything about any of this stuff, its all borrowed language to keep the sheep angry. She wants the VP spot on trumps gravy train. By the way Cory I had a show of my bronzes in Madison at the college in 85 or 86 right after I graduated from USD. Nice place, seemed liberal too. Took it to Mitchell afterward.

  14. Ryan 2021-12-21

    i don’t see what all the fuss is about.

    i mean, obviously this is a silly waste of time and resources – but other than that, who cares?

    this bill says not to teach people that groups are inferior or superior. that’s good. the bill says groups shouldn’t be treated as superior or inferior. that’s good. the bill says people shouldn’t be told they are responsible for the behaviors of other people in “their” “group.” that’s good.

    what’s funny is that nothing here prevents teachers from teaching any actual history. teachers can say what happened throughout history, in as specific and gruesome detail as possible, without violating this bill. teaching kids that native americans were slaughtered, or that black people were enslaved, or that japanese folks were sent to terrible camps less than 100 years ago is a recitation of fact. none of those facts are teaching kids that one “group” is inferior, or superior; teaching those facts is not treating groups differently; teaching those facts is not telling somebody they are responsible for the behaviors of another person.

    this noem… i tell ya… just a puppet, dancing for her audience of other empty-headed puppets.

  15. O 2021-12-21

    So all the buildings with “In God We Trust” signs will now say that no religion is superior to the others? I believe this bill will require some signs to come down.

    Also, if public money goes to private/religious schools (as scholarships), will those schools be held to account? Is O’Gorman, for example, a state accredited school?

  16. bearcreekbat 2021-12-21

    So now the history of the radical Republicans in the mid 19th century must be suppressed? After all they were rabid abolitionists and stood strongly against Jim Crow laws and racist behavior during reconstruction, at least until Rutherford Hayes’ deal with the devil.

    [To secure enough votes to win the disputed presidential election, Republican] Hayes promised . . . the withdrawal of federal troops from the South and an acceptance of the election of Democratic governments in the remaining “unredeemed” southern states. The Democrats agreed, and on March 2, the filibuster was ended. Hayes was elected, but Reconstruction was finished, and freedmen were left at the mercy of white Democrats who did not intend to preserve their rights. . . .

    So next time you hear a Republican talk about being the party of Lincoln and freeing the slaves and standing up for freed slaves in the South, and how terrible the Democrats were and still are based on that history, just call it “critical race theory,” right?

  17. Donald Pay 2021-12-21

    I sort of agree with Ryan. It can be seen as a nothing bill—just a way to pull the wool over the righties’ eyes and make it seem as if she is doing something. Then I look at the word “inherently.” That’s a weasel word, and it cuts a number of ways. It gives people like Noem, an out, of course, to say their white supremacy isn’t based on an “inherent” defect in blacks or Indians. No, it’s their culture and gosh darn political beliefs that make them inferior. It goes back to the 1980’s where conservatives made the argument that all you had to do was believe in the great white conservative values to be accepted by the white culture they wanted to hold up as the be all end all of life on earth: the shining city on a hill. The problem is a lot of Republicans no longer believe that, and history has put that firmly in the category of “myth.”

  18. Porter Lansing 2021-12-21

    White privileged Ryan conveniently omits the big one. This bill attempts to codify that people are not responsible for “past behaviors” of people of their race.

    This is “dog whistle” for “We ain’t paying no reparations to no damn N*****s or R*ds**ns!”

    Asserted: “As Americans we are fully responsible for the enslavement and theft from Blacks and Indians because without those actions America would never (and I mean absolutely NEVER) have prospered to become as prominent in the world as it was in the 60’s and 70’s.”

  19. Ryan 2021-12-21

    porter, you are wrong, as is tradition.

    people are not responsible for the behaviors (historical or recent) of other people who just so happen to have their same skin color, or gender, or religion, or any other characteristic you feel like focusing on. that’s an absolutely absurd theory and the only people who will agree with you are as ignorant as you. your fake assumption of responsibility is so transparent in its pity-full, self-serving nature that you disgust me.

  20. Porter Lansing 2021-12-21

    Tradition says, Ryan babieeee … “Don’t get into an insult contest with “Porter the Master” or you’ll be sent home crying, like every other time.”

    What W.P.Ryan conveniently leaves out of his second attempt at wisdom is that reparations aren’t about skin color, gender, or religion. The reparations due to Blacks and Indians are about nationality.

    We, as Americans, have a debt that’s not been addressed by white people but certainly is prevalent in the thinking of those groups damaged beyond their ability to recover.

  21. larry kurtz 2021-12-21

    New Mexico endures multitudinous symbols of conquest, genocide and colonization. The Royal Road of the Interior that extended 1600 miles from Mexico City to Santa Fe was established some 400 years ago by Spanish Conquistador Juan de Oñate, infamous for the 1599 Acoma Massacre.

    Today, after consultations with stakeholders New Mexico’s Public Education Department hopes to provide instruction that is relevant to English language learners and Indigenous students alike by adding ethnic, cultural and identity curricula to the state’s social studies standards by emphasizing tribal sovereignty, social justice and sustainable futures.

    The Santa Fe School Board has submitted written comments in favor of adopting the proposals despite New Mexico Republican Party falsehoods associating the standards with CRT.

    Indigenous American intellectuals insist the proposed standards are crucial to providing education to propel Native children beyond colonialization.

  22. O 2021-12-21

    Ryan, when does responsibility kick in? I understand your position that people are not responsible for the behaviors of other people who happen to have the same skin color, but when does that become a cop out? When does it become compliance, acceptance, perpetuation of an objectively unfair system? Awareness of the racial inequality means that each person has to choose to perpetuate the system or disrupt that system. The system will not change itself; many who knowingly profit from that system will fight to keep it entrenched; it takes ACTIVE engagement and thoughtful opposition to change things.

    I was just reading a great article about Jason Isbell. This is how we should talk about institutional racism!

  23. Ryan 2021-12-21

    porter, if the federal government decided to send money as reparations to groups of people to “address” previous inequalities, that is still very different than saying “white people alive today are responsible for slavery.” nobody alive today is responsible for slavery, no matter how many times you create cringey nicknames for yourself. haha calling yourself “porter the master” in a thread about racial disparities is hilarious, indeed, but it’s also very sad. you are embarrassing yourself, just like the hicks that call themselves “patriots,” and just like them, you have been sniffing too many farts to understand the irony.

    O, i don’t know where the line is because this is real life and not some coloring book where all the edges are obvious. Am i responsible for the behavior of some slave owner 170 years ago? Am i responsible if my child uses racial slurs on the playground? Yes. Am i responsible for the totality of the united states’s social, economic, and cultural institutions? No. Am i responsible for how i treat people, who i vote for, and the charities I support? Definitely. So there is your answer. Where is the line? there isn’t one.

  24. Donald Pay 2021-12-21

    Is there collective guilt, passed down through individuals over generations? I don’t think so. The Germans of today are not responsible for the Holocaust. I think Ryan is right on that, but some past injustices have to be addressed, even if they can’t be totally set right. Is it right that identified artwork that was stolen from Jews is owned by German families or museums? The lives lost can’t be restored, but isn’t there a collective responsibility to repair past wrongs, even if you did not do them? I think so. At least the effort should be made.

    I think both O and Ryan can be right. If you ignore the injustices of the past, you never get around to fixing problems and not repeating them.

  25. O 2021-12-21

    If I choose to allow the system to go as is, if I choose to not take positive action to reform this system, and if I acknowledge this system is systemically unfair, then I take the blame for the system — even the elements of the system that predate me — onto myself. We let ourselves of the hook when we can separate ourselves from those who were the initial cause of the racism and allow ourselves to chart the easier path because of their actions (at the detriment of our Black and Brown neighbors).

    For example, if I do not go out of my way to assure that my Native student’s speak their minds in class, then I have allowed a system that silences their voices to go on. Saying it is not my fault that a system that keeps those voices silence is “not my fault” is the cop out I speak of above.

    As a white man, I have an OBLIGATION to take any steps I can to raise up those who do not look like me to the opportunities I have enjoyed by virtue of a system that bestowed them on me for how I look.

  26. Ryan 2021-12-21

    Donald, i think your comment sums up the beliefs that most people have – terrible wrongs should be righted. i think most people would agree that slavery in the US was terrible. i think most people would agree that the native american genocide was terrible. same for internment camps. same for torturing or killing innocent people who were denied due process. OK. that part is straightforward for most people because we are empathetic.

    the difficulty is in the “righting” of the wrong. it’s easier said than done. if you give people cash to “address” the adversity their ancestors had to endure, who sets the value? certainly some people would say it’s too much and some would say it’s not enough, regardless of the amount. and who gets a check? is it skin-tone based? what about the light-skinned offspring of a black/white couple? what about the nigerian kid who was adopted from africa two years ago? according to some recent articles published on this blog (i disagree with this idea, but some people buy it) race is a completely made up social creation, so how do we avoid leaving people out or paying people who shouldn’t be paid?

    as Run DMC says in the greatest rap song in history – “It’s Tricky.”

  27. larry kurtz 2021-12-21

    The United States’ longest war wasn’t in Afghanistan; it was against Indigenous Americans and ran from about 1785 to at least 1973. Leonard Peltier is a prisoner of that war.

    Despite the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1851 President Abraham Lincoln signed the Morrill Act in 1862 that distributed unceded lands in the public domain to raise funds for colleges. The Morrill Land-Grant Acts are directly linked to the Native American Genocide so after the defeat of the 7th Cavalry at Greasy Grass in 1876 and the Great Sioux War Congress abrogated that treaty in 1877 then the Utes, Lakota, Arapaho, Cheyenne and others who migrated, lived and hunted all along the Front Range were driven into concentration camps.

    In 2019 during an episode of The Keepers, a podcast produced by the Kitchen Sisters and NPR, the lead Archivist at the National Archives told listeners lawyers are combing the records for treaties with tribal nations none of which have been honored by the United States.

    David Treuer was born of a Holocaust survivor and Ojibwe mother. He wrote in The Atlantic that he believes that most land held in America’s national parks should be remanded to Indigenous peoples but it’s my view that much of the land held in the Bureau of Land Management and the Forest Service should also be part of that trust.

    Today, land repatriation is the part of the roadmap to reconciliation.

  28. Ryan 2021-12-21

    O said “As a white man, I have an OBLIGATION to take any steps I can to raise up those who do not look like me to the opportunities I have enjoyed by virtue of a system that bestowed them on me for how I look.”

    Look… if you actually believed that, good for you, but you don’t. You could give away all your money to those less fortunate. You could volunteer all your time. You could open your home to the homeless. You could cook for the hungry. You could do a lot of things you aren’t doing. So, either you know that you aren’t obligated to do all of that, or you actually feel like you are obligated, but you are shirking the obligation.

    You are obligated by morality to treat people fairly, if not well. You are not obligated to martyr yourself for the benefit of strangers because the ancestors of those strangers were not treated with basic human dignity. Life is full of absolute misery, which is one of the primary reasons for my agnosticism. Those miseries can be ameliorated through human kinship and grace. Your existence is not the fruit of racism and murder, and you don’t owe the universe an apology for your skin color, gender, or anything else.

  29. Porter Lansing 2021-12-21

    Ryan asserts, “Nobody alive today is responsible for slavery.”

    Porter asserts, “Every white American owes a debt to the descendants of slaves because slavery paid for every white American’s “white privilege”.

  30. larry kurtz 2021-12-21

    The United States was founded on the backs of enslaved people as systematic genocide became a way of life for white christians quoting scripture as they slaughtered their fellow humans. After colonizers realized enslaved American Indians had no resistance to diseases brought from the Old World, Africans were imported to do the dirty work. George Washington became a warlord because enslaved people created the wealth that afforded him cannon, powder and ball.

  31. Ryan 2021-12-21

    porter – you are the most phony of the phonies. if you believed that baloney you typed, you would pay up. so pay up or shut up, you self righteous virtue signaler. you are a grifter, floating from one nonsensical opinion to the next, trying to assign guilt and blame from the pedestal you built for yourself so you can collect internet points for your selfless generosity. oh how the less fortunate will grovel at your feet, thankful for your handouts and pity.

  32. larry kurtz 2021-12-21

    No lawyer practices in the United States until they learn how the court favors white privilege. Court packing is Herr Trump’s legacy and will take decades to reverse.

    My youngest daughter just finished her first semester of International Law and Organizations (POLS 454) at the University of South Dakota with Professor Timothy Schorn, an outspoken instructor of critical race theory.

  33. Porter Lansing 2021-12-21

    I pity Ryan. He must try to insult an opponent when he can’t present a properly sequenced argument. No wonder he failed as a lawyer.

  34. Ryan 2021-12-21

    larry – trump is straight up trash, but something i heard a year or so ago stuck with me, althought I haven’t had the time or interest enough to look into it…

    trump appointed judges to open positions, correct? he didn’t create new positions, right? i heard something like obama left dozens (over 100?) of judgeships open for appointment, and trump just came in and appointed them. I don’t know whether that is correct – like I said, i heard it a while ago and never looked into it. but, if these are facts, it’s really obama’s fault for leaving so many positions open for appointment, no?

  35. Ryan 2021-12-21

    scroll up, bus boy. you came here to call names like you always do, and you attempted to insult me for internet points. you tried some actual on-topic conversation, and as usual, i proved you wrong with nearly zero effort. then you give up the topical content for another lame insult attempts and retreat to your sniffing chambers. And failed as a lawyer? haha i wish. maybe then i would be as bitter as you and i could pump my ego from time to time by acting like a martyr online. Alas, i am stuck with a never-ending series of successes. I will never feel what you feel, unfortunately.

  36. Ryan 2021-12-21

    larry, i read what you linked but it was just name calling, propaganda, and lies. i guess i’ll have to wait longer to know the truth.

    is there any newsmedia out there that reports facts without being hyper-partisan? i’m left of center and almost all liberal media has gone crazy radical. any grown ups out there that care about journalism instead of tribalism? i know i’m not the only potential viewer. lots of us exist who don’t want childish crap like we’ve seen from both sides (in washington and in the media!). too many people are more concerned with their “side” winning some imaginary game of chess than they are with the future we are creating for our children. it’s sad.

  37. Arlo Blundt 2021-12-21

    Well…the tobacco and cotton empire of the colonial south, the 3/5 compromise, the African slave trade by the New England Puritans, the Dred Scott Decision, the Underground Railroad, the freeing of slaves in Union occupied territories in the Civil War, Secession of Southern States, the Emancipation Proclamation, the occupation of the South, Reconstruction, the election of Rutherford P. Hayes, Plesy vs. Ferguson, and the civil rights era, are all off limits. I have no idea how teachers can handle the conquest of the Northwest Territories, the elimination of the New England tribes and their removal, the Trail of Tears, and the Plains Indian Wars and settlement of the Great Plains through the Homestead Act under Governor Noem’s guidelines. It’s American History via Laura Ingalls Wilder. Heroic Europeans conquering the weather. Intelligent children will be left to search for the truth on their own. The exceptionality of the ignorant will prevail.

  38. larry kurtz 2021-12-21

    I’m often called a liberal by Trumpettes on Faceberg but liberals want to convert GOPers or convince them to be kinder and gentler. Me? As a progressive I’m actually working to destroy the Republican Party and erase it from the collective cultural memory.

    This time Trump is the asteroid. That Republicans continue to prop up his assault on the courts and stoke his criminal race baiting is the most telling aspect of this march toward the abyss

  39. Ryan 2021-12-21

    arlo – this bill doesn’t restrict teaching kids all the ways that one group oppressed another. those are historical facts you listed. this bill says you can’t tell kids one group is superior and one group is inferior. it says you can’t tell kids to treat groups differently. it says you can’t tell a kid he is responsible for the crimes of his grandfather. this is why i think this bill is silly – it does nothing; it prevents nothing that is being done, and it obligates teachers to make zero changes to their behavior or curriculum.

    In fact, i would say if there is a teacher currently telling their kids that white people are superior to black people, that’s a problem. if there is a teacher telling their kids to treat black people differently than white people, that’s a problem. if a teacher is telling their class that the white kids in the room are responsible for slavery a couple hundred years ago, that’s a problem.

  40. larry kurtz 2021-12-21

    Mrs. Noem has nearly as much money in the bank as John Thune does and she raises more every time she uses her post to do so: it’s just that simple.

  41. Porter Lansing 2021-12-21

    Christmas time is hard on Ryan.

  42. Arlo Blundt 2021-12-21

    I’ve also been reading lately about the long (29 years) history of Dakota Territory and the struggle toward statehood. Under the Noem dictates that history cannot be taught. How do you handle Todd and Burleigh, the scandalous work of Judge Shannon and the commission to set reservation boundaries, Chief Struck by the Ree and Lewis and Clark, the successful lawsuit by the Ponca to be considered human beings under the laws of the United States, (the Ponca reservation, now in Nebraska, was partially in Dakota Territory), the BLACK HILLS including all of the conniving and warfare to bring it within settlement, the failed homesteading of the short grass country after the turn of the century, the rise of the cattle barons, all are off limits in teaching South Dakota History. It is sad and it is an effort to erase our History.

  43. Donald Pay 2021-12-21

    Again, there is a middle ground, Ryan. Of course, no one person today should martyr themselves to right a wrong done in the past, but society collectively, can do something for wrongs that were allowed to occur or were actively perpetrated. It will never be enough, but it will be something.

    One of the Pay’s, (not a direct line to me) was a civil war hero, who then drove wagon trains of food out to Fort Thompson, where some of the Dakota were being stashed for a time after the Dakota Uprising in Minnesota. The story I had been led to believe was that he was a hero, helping to save the Indians. Then I read a book about the real history of the uprising and the commodities delivered to Fort Thompson. Some of the food was stolen before it got there and a lot was spoiled. Only some of it was actually delivered to ameliorate the hunger of the Dakota. I hope that Byron Pay was not the one responsible for the stolen food or the spoilage. There is no way to know, but knowing this fact of history has altered my view about Byron Pay, and about that whole effort. Where I was once proud of his actions, I now see he was just part of the overall attempted genocide of the Dakota. Maybe he was a good guy, maybe not, but he was still a cog in the machine of evil.

  44. Arlo Blundt 2021-12-21

    Donald…the Nobles Trail from Fort Snelling, through Mankato, and on to Fort Thompson passes through my home county (Sanborn) and traces are still evident. There is a ford through the James at Forestburg that is marked by a historic marker and the rock work is still visible as are cuts through the banks and bluffs. Southwest of Woonsocket is a lone grave of a teamster who died on the trail. Near Wessington Springs are several markers of the trail as it ascends the hills and the springs there were a vital water source. The trail then follows Crow Creek out to the high plateau above the river. Its a relatively unknown and unappreciated chapter of South Dakota territorial history that your relative participated in during the 1860’s.

  45. Ryan 2021-12-21

    arlo – in what ways are those topics off limits to teach? people are pretending there is a lot more in this bill than there is. there is nothing in there that says a teacher can’t teach kids about all the horrible things that have been done in this country. teachers should teach those things because they are important. the whole idea of “THEY ARE TRYING TO ERASE HISTORY!” is crap because nowhere in this conversation is a ban on teaching historical facts.

    bus boy, you must be a sad, lonely, dude. i love christmas even though it has no spiritual or religious importance to me. i enjoy the extra time with family and i love giving gifts because it warms the cockles of my cold, agnostic heart. i’m sure you will warm yourself with a nice beefy inhalation, all alone, as the people in your life scramble to make other plans.

  46. Porter Lansing 2021-12-21

    You don’t seem yourself, Ryan. Do you need to talk? If you do and a lot of us are worried about your mental health, give us a call. Love ‘ya, man.

  47. Porter Lansing 2021-12-21

    CRT was inflated by Republicans as a smokescreen clouding the issue of reparations. Republicans like Ryan know it’s only a matter of time because reparations are a proper beginning to a debt USA has owed for a very long time. As the discussion went here today, it’s obvious that Republicans like Ryan know they’re wrong but their culture is one of refusal. They refuse to accept what is widely accepted because they cling to a culture of being different, if only for the sake of it.

  48. Arlo Blundt 2021-12-21

    Ryan–you’ve obviously never taught in a South Dakota High School or sat in at many school board meeting otr spent any time with High School administrators.

  49. grudznick 2021-12-21

    You do have nice cockles, Mr. Ryan. grudznick will happily raise a nice beefy inhalation, all alone, as I stare out the window at the forest creatures.

  50. Ryan 2021-12-21

    merry christmas, grudz. I hope santa brings you enough carrots for everyone’s goats that you have gathered.

    porter, you’re like that little fish that disappoints the angler for wasting his cast and doesn’t even properly struggle. Im a republican? That’s your big finale? I’ve never voted for a republican in my life and im pretty sure I’ve told you that. So call names if you can’t talk real issues, fine, but just know that we all know how empty your words are.

    Arlo, or anybody, can you please tell me in what way this bill will prevent the accurate, detailed account of the flawed history in this country that our schools should be teaching (and likely already are in most cases). And to be clear, this bill should die because it’s stupid and unnecessary, as is noem haha so I support neither, im just paying attention where others seem like they aren’t.

  51. Porter Lansing 2021-12-21

    You can shut up now, Ryan. You’ve lost the room.

  52. Donald Pay 2021-12-21

    Again, I think Ryan is right, partly. The bill is a nothing, if you want it to be nothing. It’s really pretty weak sauce. Lots of undefined rhetoric, but not much in the way of “you shan’t teach this.” However, that makes it dicey. Most superintendents and school boards will likely not see it as nothing. It will probably increase the cost of every district’s attorney and insurance, if nothing else. That’s money not going to the classroom. It may change some policy, though districts already have policy on how to teach controversial subjects. Good teachers won’t, of course, be intimidated. They’ll teach the way they want in the way they want to teach it. But some teachers, especially young teachers, may be intimidated.

  53. Porter Lansing 2021-12-21

    Ryan is wrong. Cory is right. The three bills of the week are just deflection from Kristi-Kins nepotism exposure.

  54. Arlo Blundt 2021-12-21

    Ryan-the Governor’s proposal is an attempt to usurp the authority of local school boards and inserts the state into the daily work of the classroom teacher usurping authority from school principals. It is unenforceable on its face and does nothing to increase the competency of students to understand our History.

  55. DaveFN 2021-12-21

    CRT does not promote any specific truth but calls into question any and every of our received truths, be they individual or collective, just as does any critical endeavor worth its name. Noem hasn’t begun to fathom such a concept as critical thought in its intellectual sense and it’s doubtful she ever will.

  56. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2021-12-22

    O, I do see this report from the DOE on high school graduation requirements that refers to “All state-accredited schools, including private, tribal and BIE schools….” This DOE list also says it explicitly: the state accredits O’Gorman and a slew of other private schools. It thus appears that Christian schools like O’Gorman, under this bill, could not teach the superiority of Christianity or the inferiority or invalidity of Islam or Flying Spaghetti Monsterism.

  57. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2021-12-22

    I’m not sure why folks are coming down so hard on Ryan. He is correct: this bill really bans nothing that is actually happening in South Dakota classrooms, or anything that any educator could or would actually do. Even if there is disagreement about the notion that individuals bear any inherent responsibility for sins committed by the groups from which they descend, Noem’s bill does not stop teachers from leading students through intelligent discussions of that idea.

    Noem’s bill is legal trickery, meant to throw in weasel words, like Donald identifies, that create the specter of lawsuits that she hopes will scare school districts into banning books and topics that she finds offensive. She’s shown that she can hire lawyers to make “single subject” mean “multiple subjects”; under her bill, schools who know they are right on history, pedagogy, and law will have to worry that Noem will send lawyer Matt McCaulley and other minions to play word games in court and try to contend that “requiring students to analyze and explain” is equivalent to “compelling students to affirm and adopt.”

  58. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2021-12-22

    Arlo’s point that the bill is unenforceable is important. I’d like to hear opponents raise that question: how will the state identify violations, and how will the state actually retract funding from violators?

    Of course, given the emptiness and misdirection of the bill, I’m tempted to say to opponents, let the bill pass. Raise no opposition. Let everyone know this empty bill is not worth opposing. Shrug at it, let Noem pretend she’s wrought some great change in curriculum, and then watch as teachers keep teaching historical facts and leading robust discussions of the realities of systemic racism in America.

  59. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2021-12-22

    DaveFN gets it: Noem has no idea what critical race theory really is. CRT does nothing that this bill attempts to ban.

  60. Ryan 2021-12-22

    Arlo – agreed. That is a legitimate problem that is altogether unrelated to the actual content of the bill.

    porter – awwwww.

    noem doesn’t know what crt is, neither do most of the people who are opposing it recently based on click bait articles from right-leaning media, and similarly neither do most of the people supporting it based on click bait articles from left-leaning media.

    People just want to pick a side and ride it, ignoring the details. Our democracy is fragile and fractured for these reasons.

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