Hey, did you notice that Governor Kristi Noem’s first three proposed bills for the 2022 Legislative Session are all attacks on public education? Noem’s bill promoting prayer in schools, Noem’s bill banning transgender girls from girls’ sports, and Noem’s bill to block critical race theory (which does not block critical race theory) subvert local control and insult educators’ professional training and judgment. All three bills stoke the rage of Noem’s conservative base, which believes public education threatens their values (and since her base’s values are theocracy, authoritarianism, and racism, yes, public education developing critical thinking skills for democracy does threaten their values) and must thus be crushed.
But it’s o.k. if you didn’t notice that underlying attack on public education in Noem’s bills, neither has the cowed South Dakota Education Association. On South Dakota’s teacher union website, the last news updates are from December 7 and 9, expressing true appreciation for the Governor’s proposed 6% increase in K-12 funding.
I’d like to think the SDEA’s silence on Noem’s cutting into their turf with her culture-war bills is a studious silence to impractical, impotent proposals that sensible citizens and legislators would not dignify with any response other than a swift no vote in committee. But it seems more likely that with a sizable budget increase on the table, SDEA intends to keep quiet about other issues and leave the defense of student rights, teacher rights, and the Constitution from Noem’s campaign ploys to the American Civil LIberties Union and other socially conscientious parties.