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Bills Banning CRT and “Divisive Concepts” Hit House Education Wednesday; Noem Also Seeks Ban on Private Donations to Support Social Studies

House Education gets both barrels of Governor Kristi Noem’s push for thought control in our public schools tomorrow morning, as it hears House Bill 1012, Noem’s misnamed and thus unconstitutional bill pretending to ban critical race theory from our schools and universities, and House Bill 1337, a late entry from the Governor that doesn’t mention “critical race theory” but bans schools from teaching “divisive concepts” or giving students any credit for engaging in political activities or service learning related to social or public policy activism.

Both bills are deceptive and noxious: Republicans are just afraid that teaching young people real history and sociology will foil their efforts to preach vote-getting Whitopian make-believe. Both bills fly in the face of honest and effective education, in which we should ask students to confront contentious issues, analyze important topics critically, and apply their learning to real, practical action in their community.

But I notice one curious little educational land mine in HB 1337. Section 6 forbids state agencies and public school districts from accepting any private funding “for curriculum development, purchase or choice of curricular materials, teacher training, professional development, or continuing teacher education pertaining to courses on history, civics, United States government and politics, social studies or similar subject areas, whether for regular credit or advanced placement credit.” A ban on private funding for public activities is funny coming from a Governor who let a private donor fund her own deployment of the National Guard for photo opps at the U.S.–Mexico border. It’s also completely contradictory for a Governor and Legislature committed to expanding public funding of private education at the expense of public schools via stealth vouchers.

One may assume that Noem is trying to prevent George Soros from funding any teacher development or courses on social issues. But Section 6 of HB 1337 could shut down all sorts of local support for local education. Pass this bill, and the local VFW or Rotary won’t be able to provide copies of the Constitution to students. Local benefactors won’t be able to donate new books to  students or teachers. Section 6 could even be interpreted to shut down certain aspects of international travel for students. When I organized a trip to France for Spearfish High School students, a great social studies experience, the tour company, EF Tours, paid for my training and travel as a tour leader. That’s professional development, and as it came from a private vendor, that’s illegal under HB 1337.

And in its deadliest move, Section 6 would ban teachers from spending their money to buy books, magazines, posters, and any other materials that they might use in their social studies classrooms.

As a small point, we may also ask: if private money is bad for public schools’ history and government programs, why isn’t private money bad for English, science, or vocational courses?

HB 1337, like HB 1012, is bad from top to bottom. The main point against it is the effort of an authoritarian regime to clamp down on honest education and ideas that challenge its authority. But HB 1337’s curious ban on private support for education suggests one more instance of hasty bill-writing based on too much reading Breitbart and not enough considering unintended consequences of public policy.


  1. Mark Anderson 2022-02-08 07:45

    Well at least Soros can continue to fund the Dakota Free Press. I’d better add that I’m just kidding Cory. You never know what Republicans will believe. I get payed by the comment by Soros so I try and keep them short and sweet. Its a living.

  2. Bill 2022-02-08 07:56

    Back in the early 1960s, I was awarded a General Electric Fellowship to study at Claremont Graduate School. Claremont is the seat of conservative thinking in the US. I obtained the grant because I was teaching social studies in a South Dakota high school. The curriculum was clearly aimed at indoctrinating participants by reading The Road to Serfdom by F.A.Hayek and quoting studies that labor unions did not, in the long run, increase wages. Would such teacher grants be outlawed by the proposed legislation? I imagine it would be illegal to introduce Hayek’s ideas to high school students.

  3. Mark Anderson 2022-02-08 08:02

    It’s so nice of Republicans to bring Critical Race Theory to everyone isn’t it? Now everyone can see the truth of it. Kids love looking at things they shouldn’t. Who ever heard of CRT before all this.
    It’s just unfortunate that this bill will also ban sport’s and other divisive concepts. I thought they already banned the tranz. Who knew?

  4. larry kurtz 2022-02-08 08:18

    Estates that could be attached for reparations are of Stan Adelstein’s and the Hustead family’s. Who else?

  5. Donald Pay 2022-02-08 08:44

    Sometimes bills are introduced by your Governor just so she can get her porn lips around some political constituency. These bills aren’t designed to be enacted and enforced. These are called “sniff my ass bills.” They are signals that say, “Smell that I’m a dog, like you.” It’s not just the right that engages in these sorts of bills. I’ve seen a few such introduced into the SD Legislature by Democrats this year.

    I can’t understand why legislators can’t stick to the real issues that affect real people, rather than manufacturing crises where none exist. The CRT “controversy” is the most contrived effort I’ve seen in a while. It used to be the gun industry stoking fears of confiscation of guns. Anything to make the tighty whities shake with fear to the point that coins drop out of their pockets and into their campaign coffers, I guess. Between the few transgenders and the non-existent problem of CRT, the porn-lipped governor and Republican legislators hardly have time to deal with anything real.

  6. Amy B. 2022-02-08 08:46

    Pretty soon she’ll want to get rid of an actual teacher in class and want Social Studies strictly taught by a Noem approved set of videos, podcasts and books. Her meddling in everything is bad news for everyone.

  7. mike from iowa 2022-02-08 08:49

    Good. No more Boys or Girls States parties. No more Military recruiting trips to schools. No, more rodeo sports?

  8. Leslie 2022-02-08 09:10

    I’m thankful every day that I don’t have school-age children and that my grandchildren do not attend school in South Dakota.

  9. O 2022-02-08 09:37

    There are two misbeliefs intrinsic to these bills: 1) there is a conformity of thought — a “right” way of thinking that everyone (especially our students) prescribes to; our schools are CAUSING a division from that “right” thought; and 2) discussion causes division. I have really appreciated previous posts on this issue that link to examples of people chaining their views BECAUSE of the discussion of these issues.

    What gets lost all too often is the core of education: that people change their minds in light of new information. Certainly that information needs to be evaluated, weighed, balanced with experience, but learning does not happen from a state of comfort, but from the discomfort of challenge.

    Everyone ought to take pause anytime the government prescribes the “right” way to think or the “right” way to believe. None of this passes a partisan litmus test: if a Blue state were to ban their version of controversial-un-blue topics in school, GOP/Right/Conservative would be on full blast and quoting Orwell about how wrong that would be.

    I guess all this is much sexier than feeding the hungry, sheltering the homeless, and treating the sick.

  10. larry kurtz 2022-02-08 09:39

    The more Democrats attack Republican South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem the more money she raises, it’s just that simple.

  11. Donald Pay 2022-02-08 10:17

    O, You are so right. I remember as a kid watching the TV news and seeing black people being attacked by police dogs. That was very discomforting, and I immediately became a supporter of those people who had the courage to face those dogs as they stood up for their voting rights. I remember seeing a bunch of white adults with snarling faces hurling insults at black school children my age who were wanting to go to school. That was very discomforting, but I learned a lot from the bravery those kids showed. Being discomforted by injustice is what he were supposed to be learning when we read “To Kill A Mockingbird” in school. Or “The Diary of Ann Frank.” Or “The Scarlet Letter.” Or a lot of great literature. Being able to empathize with those who have been treated unjustly, and to seek justice for them is what we should learn as we grow from kids to adults.

    It strikes me that Noem would ban the historic newsreels of those attacks on blacks seeking justice, as well as the images of injustice toward blacks appearing nightly on TV. I had the benefit of seeing those events of the 1950s and 60s as current events. Today’s kids see George Floyd and the latest black kid shot dead by the police. Back in my childhood, blacks had lots of hurdles to voting, if they could vote at all. Today, the same thing is happening. Things haven’t changed much. That ought to discomfort everyone.

  12. RM 2022-02-08 10:50

    It is embarrassing to even listen or read what Noem is saying about CRT- apparently she has no idea what it is all about, or in any rate is to ignorant. The later is more likely.
    Someone ought to sit her down and restrain her on a chair and make her watch “Eyes on the Price”.
    It is showing right now on SDPB TV 2.
    It doesn’t matter what anyone’s background is, there are things we rather not remember even though we had nothing to do with it. But in order for every one to have a better future we need to know our history, however painful it may be.
    Wouldn’t hurt Noem to think about that. But of course that would be wishful thinking!

  13. mike from iowa 2022-02-08 12:05

    Noem Nothing’s jeebus probably would get her lifetime membership at Mara Lago and hire some magat out of state outfit to curry every book and movie and remove those parts that offend the beauty queen’s sensibilities. Best part of all, taxpayers pick up the tabs right after drumpf bumps lifetime memberships to Mara Lago to a billion dollars a year.

  14. O 2022-02-08 12:57

    I remember hearing about the Japanese internment camps of WW2 well after I had graduated from high school. I could not believe that I was in my 20’s before I had heard about this. Knowing this did not make me renounce my US citizenship; I did not burn all the US flags I could find; it did make me pause when I now hear about regulations that discriminate or ostracize minorities to remember that protecting “others” is not automatic and that even we freedom-loving Americans can do dumb things when we are scared. Knowing about that internment made me just a bit wiser in how I view matters as a citizen participant. Isn’t that a goal of education?

    I felt similar after reading about Critical Legal Studies and hearing the perspective of Institutional Racism. I might add actually seeing people homeless to the list of things that have affected my world view.

  15. mike from iowa 2022-02-08 13:58

    Being associated with me in any capacity precludes the alleged Pearly Gates ever welcoming you. It is written and it is so.

  16. SuFuMatt 2022-02-08 13:59

    The inclusion of “state agency” in the one bill confuses me. Wonder what that’s targeting.

  17. Mark Anderson 2022-02-08 14:33

    Well Larry, she almost lost the farm, I mean the ranch, to estate taxes right? Even though that doesn’t happen by itself or ever in her case. She’s got to raise money for those horses somehow. She’s got to appeal to tranz haters, vaccine haters, all the Maga boys and girls, not everyone can sell their soul to do that. No wonder she’s so interested in real estate. If we all would just join hands and kumbaya and have more beauty contests all this divisiveness would go away. Although those contests can be divisive too.

  18. Arlo Blundt 2022-02-08 16:07

    The Governor and her minions in the legislature have declared war on South Dakota’s public schools , its teachers, administrators and board members.The war is a stunningly stupid strategic move by the Republican Super Majority. It will lead to chaos which I believe is the outcome preferred by the Governor. I’m hopeful that the voters will wake up and toss the Governor to the curb.

  19. Donald Pay 2022-02-08 16:08

    Among the “divisive concepts” defined in HB 1337 is this: “(8) With respect to their relationship to American values, slavery and racism are anything other than deviations from, betrayals of, or failures to live up to America’s founding principles of liberty and equality, as stated in the Declaration of Independence.”

    That’s an interesting reading of history, one that is not accepted by historians. Slavery came to America in 1619 and was practiced in all American colonies at the time of the Declaration. Slavery was not condemned in the Declaration. Thomas Jefferson had written a condemnation of slavery in his draft, more or less blaming the King of England for the slave traffic. His condemnation was excised from the July 4th document.

    Obviously, slavery was as American as cherry pie, whatever “values” are in the Declaration of Independence. Why is that?

    Thomas Jefferson’s relationship to slavery is interesting. Jefferson genuinely hated slavery, but yet he owned slaves, even the mother of some of his children was a slave, as were those children. Jefferson was trapped in an institution he detested, because he valued his capital more than his values. Jefferson is not alone: that’s the story of a lot of American history. Your values are where you money is.

    The value of Jefferson’s slaves were far in excess of the value of his land, and all that land value vanished without black labor to work the land. That is why he didn’t want more imported slaves from Africa. Fewer slaves meant his slaves were worth more, he could borrow more against them and live the high life. He could breed slaves to sell them off. Ca-ching. To end slavery would have meant financial ruin for Jefferson, who was never a very good businessman anyway.

    Jefferson had no idea how to end slavery, even if he wanted to. He thought shipping free blacks to Africa would be a partial solution. Free blacks were always a threat to Jefferson. They destabilized the South. The made it easier for slaves to escape, and to organize slave rebellions. He also thought blacks were inferior people as a group. He was a racist in today’s terms, though he was pretty enlightened in terms of the elite slaveholders of his time. That’s who wrote those stirring words about “all men are created equal.” By men he meant white men only, and those only if they owned property.

  20. larry kurtz 2022-02-08 16:55

    Mrs. Noem has big plans, Mark and little can stop her march into Iowa in 2023 where she will hustle up whichever pole dancing gig puts the Benjamin’s into her campaign g-string.

  21. Arlo Blundt 2022-02-08 17:03

    Donald is correct. The best book about Slavery in America I have read lately is “The Empire of Necessity: Slavery, Freedom, and Deception in the New World” by Greg Grandin (in paperback through Picador publishing). It is a combination of history, literature, and economics, very thorough and, while a bit dense, a good read. After Independence, the new United States was a very poor country, with a financial system in chaos, no credit, and little industrial production. Slavery, common throughout all states and Latin America, and slaves, became the new currency. Nearly everyone in the US was involved in some way with slavery, from New England merchants and bankers who bankrolled the trade, to Pilgrim seafarers who transported the human cargo. By the time of the Civil War, the gross national product of the Southern States in rebellion was approximately 4 billion dollars. Of that 4 billion, over 2 billion was wrapped up in slaves. Slaves were worth more than all the farm land, manufacturing, railroads, or merchandise produced in the Southern States. We continue to suffer from the impacts of this enslavement.

  22. John 2022-02-08 19:06

    Thank you, Arlo and Donald. I’m behind in my reading; determined to catch up.
    Consider also, slavery was economic before it became racist. Consider also re-watching, Amistad, or at least reviewing that history. (Ought to be required viewing in all US high schools.)

    Our nation, much of the world, is on the cusp of a lifetime tectonic shift. The world has not seen this re-alignment since the end of WWII. It will occur in the first half of this decade. The US can no longer be the Bretton Woods world policeman; yet can be a world disruptor. The Russians and Chinese are demographically toast with dying populations. (And if the US doesn’t begin popping out babies or increase immigration, it too will begin dying. Mexico’s birthrate is slacking in 11 of the past 12 years so they are no longer a reliable source for a replacement population for the US.) Ya’ can’t create 30 year olds (productive citizens) out of thin air.

    Of course, recall also that slavery existed in North and South America far before the importation of Africans. Slavery was a human condition, predating history: Egyptians, Greeks, Romans, etc. Women and girls were property. Tribes enslaved captives from other tribes, etc., et al. Even today South Dakota has the woman-property abomination law of ‘alienation of affection’.

    And while we contemplate whether the national corporate democrats will EVER charge, prosecute, and imprison trump for his countless crimes . . . consider the humanistic refuge of 2 Audible books: As You Wish by Carey Elwes (on the 25th anniversary of the Princes Bride), and, Always Look On The Bright Side of Life by Eric Idle. Consider the Audible versions as they are read by the authors; the former has guest contributions.

  23. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2022-02-09 05:32

    Mark, I’d gladly take Soros money to support openness and participation in South Dakota government.

  24. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2022-02-09 05:33

    Bill, yes, this bill would ban Claremont from funding any such trips aimed at “teacher training, professional development, or continuing teacher education.” It would ban the Ayn Rand fanatics from sending their copies of The Fountainhead and Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal to debate teams, at least when those debate programs also use those texts in their debate classes.

  25. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2022-02-09 05:38

    Larry, as long as the American Legion and the Women’s Auxiliary doesn’t try pushing their content into the classroom, they can continue to recruit students for Boys State and Girls State, which takes place off school grounds and outside of the school calendar and curriculum. Military recruiting trips would not be affected: the U.S. military wouldn’t be considered a private donor, so they would remain free (and authorized by the Solomon Act) to come on campus and lure kids into the war machine.

  26. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2022-02-09 05:40

    Jackie, you’re right. That bill sounds unworkable. It also sounds like an offshoot of the Texas vigilante bill against abortion: they’re just trying to make it easier for parents to troll through the curriculum to find any curriculum they can twist into an attack on their witch-hunting orthodoxy.

  27. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2022-02-09 05:44

    Notice what O says about education trains people to think critically and change their minds based on new information. Has it occurred to anyone that the “divisive” concepts that Noem fears could eventually become non-divisive? Teach contentious ideas, teach students to investigate historical evidence, current events, and good philosophy, and they will come to their own conclusions about how they want to structure their society. Lead those discussions intelligently and conscientiously (as teachers generally do), and we may bring our young people to a point where our understanding of racism and injustice may not be divisive but would actually unite us in a common commitment to root out racism and injustice.

    But even as it is, the only “divisiveness” around racism and injustice comes from the racists who want to perpetuate their own power through injustice.

  28. Richard Schriever 2022-02-09 06:42

    Posted under a previous thread, it remains relevant to the discussion here; Corporate wage slavery has been the Euro-American way in the West since the first “colonists” (“recruits” from England’s debtors’ prisons) landed at Jamestown. 80% never lived long enough to “pay their debt” to the Jamestown Corporation.

  29. Richard Schriever 2022-02-09 06:50

    Cory, A younger generation structuring their own society is precisely what the “conservatives” are aghast about. What they want is a carbon (yes that kind too) copy of their own structure, in perpetuity, as an homage to themselves. They want to be see by history as equally great patriots to those they learned about in school, yet they lack the ability to differentiate themselves in the same way those patriots of old did to their contemporaries. Imitators all.

  30. John 2022-02-09 08:56

    Banning making students “uncomfortable” by studying race is rich — in the state founded on the backs of the broken Treaties of Bois Des Sioux and Laramie, the Dakota War with the nation’s largest mass execution, and the Wounded Knee massacre.

    Maybe the snowjob queen thinks her farm, er, ranchette, came from the railroad.

  31. Jake 2022-02-09 09:59

    Too bad they don’t consider the same train of thought regarding their own bringing of ‘bills’ to turn into laws that are thought up by ALEC, their out-of-state ‘thought control for legislatures” that can’t think for themselves very well.

  32. Donald Pay 2022-02-09 11:36

    Thanks for the book tip, Arlo. I haven’t read it and it sounds interesting.

  33. John 2022-02-09 16:00

    When did republicans become snowflakes? CRT, monitoring teachers, book banning and burning, banning social studies and history teachers from supplementing curriculums, dumbing down crimes as political discourse, etc?

  34. Porter Lansing 2022-02-09 18:35

    Snowflakes are people easily triggered by things that don’t bother the rest of society.
    e.g. mask mandates

  35. R. Kolbe 2022-02-09 18:49

    After watching the Ditzy Broad we have as Governor several things come to mind.
    1) List the High School where she has her diploma.
    2) List the institution she has an advanced degree.
    3) Any other educational should list its
    part in her education.

    Can any one see advertising such as,
    We are responsible for the education of our fine Governor NOEM!

    The Legislature should immediately
    Increase funding to these institutions so
    they can increase their quality standards.

  36. larry kurtz 2022-02-10 11:41

    The tenants of CRT as defined by the American Bar Association state the following:

    •Recognition that race is not a biological, but social construct and socially significant.
    •Acknowledgement that racism is embedded in systems and institutions, such as the legal system. “This dismisses the idea that racist incidents are aberrations but instead are manifestations of structural and systemic racism.”
    •Recognizes racism as codified law and policy and rejects ideas of ‘colorblindness.’
    •Embraces lived experiences of people of color in scholarship.

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