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Education Dept. Admits Governor Noem Picked the Rubber-Stampers for the Hillsdale Social Studies Standards

On Tuesday, I posted an email from the Governor’s Office showing that applicants for the new K-12 social studies standards revision commission were interviewed by policy analyst Allen Cambon from the Governor’s Office, the Governor’s political chum and state historian Benjamin F. Jones, and Professor Emeritus William Morrisey from ideological Hillsdale College in Michigan. The email from the Governor’s Office also indicated that Lieutenant Governor Larry Rhoden and Deputy Chief of Staff Beth Hollatz might monitor commission interviews. Now the Governor’s Office says the Governor herself helped pick the members of the new and ideologically stacked commission:

In an email Wednesday morning, the Department of Education confirmed that Governor Kristi Noem was involved in selecting the members of the DOE’s new social studies standards commission.

“With this current process, Governor Noem and her office worked with the Governor’s appointed Secretary of Education, the Governor’s appointed State Historian, and the Department of Education, as they do on any important issues impacting the next generation,” wrote DOE information specialist Ruth Raveling [Jacob Newton, “Noem Helped Select Social Studies Commission Members,” KELO-TV, 2022.04.27].

Ian Fury, the Governor’s spokesman and graduate of the Michigan ideology mill which appears to be drafting the new standards, noted on Twitter yesterday that the three American Indian members the Governor’s Office placed on the 15-person committee give our tribal neighbors more representation in the process than their 9% of the general population would suggest is warranted. But the Governor’s Office has also given lopsided representation to Republicans: Morgan Matzen counts at least 13 registered Republicans on the panel. That 87% representation on the panel, while close to Republicans’ 90% representation in the Legislature, is well above Republicans’ 49% representation among all registered voters.

Such open bias is the predictable result of the Governor’s inappropriate and heavy-handed intrusion on a complicated process that should be driven by educators, not Presidential candidates promoting apartheid:

Sarah White, a member of the Oglala Sioux Tribe and executive director of the South Dakota Education Equity Coalition, which led the march, said it isn’t appropriate for the governor’s office to be involved in the workgroup selection.

“She’s creating a team of people who have a track record of support for her,” White said. “They’re not all educators. The state spent a lot of DOE dollars convening the initial workgroup, and this is a slap in the face to all the initial people in the first workgroup.”

Kris Johnson, a former workgroup member and a fifth grade social studies teacher at Sisseton Middle School, also said the governor’s involvement in the process is inappropriate.

“It is a slap in the face that our state’s teachers are being treated as though we know nothing and aren’t being trusted to come up with standards that are exactly what is needed to help our students succeed,” Johnson said.

Former workgroup member Paul Harens, a retired teacher from Yankton, also shared concerns about the governor’s involvement in the process and also questioned why William Morrisey is involved.

…”I believe, because of the makeup of the interview committee, that there will be 1776 project standards roughed out and handed to the new social studies standards committee for rubber stamping,” Harens said. “I have read the 1776 document and basically it white washes history, and I do mean white” [Morgan Matzen, “‘It’s a Slap in the Face’: Gov. Noem Draws Criticism over New Social Studies Workgroup,” Sioux Falls Argus Leader, 2022.04.27].

Noem’s hand-picked curriculum standards panel begins its rubber-stamping with its long-delayed first meeting on May 4. The Department of Education has not yet posted a time and place for that meeting.


  1. P. Aitch 2022-04-28 08:41

    Obviously, SD is divided in its populaces’ idea of a K-12 curriculum. A few pilot schools, under complete review of the education department but allowed to teach the American majority’s choice of curriculum is an experiment in inclusion worthy and able to please all South Dakotans.

    Governor Kristi’s Teutonic ideas and plans of what the next generation should be taught will undoubtedly be a burden when liberal minded students enter the real world, with its strict demands for basic education fundamentals.

  2. Donald Pay 2022-04-28 09:38

    Follow the money. This isn’t about history standards. It’s about money.

    Hillsdale folks contribute to Noem’s campaigns. Noem provides state tax dollars to Hillsdale folks for consulting and “vetting” standards committee members. Noem gets campaign donations from Hillsdale folks. Standards committee members are provided Hillsdale-concocted “standards” to approve. Noem provides tax dollars for those “standards.” Noem’s campaign committees get kickbacks from Hilsdale folks. Hillsdale-concocted standards lead to sale of Hllsdale concocted curriculum to Department of Education or to South Dakota school districts using taxpayer dollars. Noem campaign committees get kickback from Hillsdale folks. I expect not only will there be curriculum selling, but also state contracts for teacher training, propaganda development, etc. All using tax dollars and with the appropriate kickbacks to Noem’s campaign committees.

    No real history teacher is going to use the Hillsdale standards or curriculum to teach history. It’s not history. It’s about the money, not history.

  3. Gail L Swenson 2022-04-28 09:39

    I posted this in response to the KELO story yesterday. Thanks for confirming what I thought was true about the Gov. handpicking this social studies workgroup. Thanks for keeping this – and the Governor’s way of doing business – in the forefront. This was my post:

    I’m sure this is exactly how work groups for other professions would be set up – Law, Medicine, Engineering – have 80% of the work group not in the profession (maybe not even practicing in the state) setting the standards guiding the work of those professionals. This is unconscionable and only in South Dakota do we let our Governor show this level of disrespect to educators and our public schools. The original work group did the research and created good, inclusive standards, only to be overruled by our Governor. When the original committee members balked at the “edits” that “white washed” their work, the Governor halted the process and selected her own work group. I’m sure the people on this committee are well-meaning – we just need people who understand curriculum, age-appropriate content standards, and teaching. We need educators making these decisions that impact every public school and student in our state. Wake up, Folks – good educators are leaving our state and public schools due to poor decisions like this that negatively impact the education profession and our schools. Our students deserve better

  4. Observer 2022-04-28 09:49

    Donald, do you think your explanation will be included in the new Social Studies curriculum as an example on how SD State Government works?

  5. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2022-04-28 10:06

    Donald promotes divisive concepts and is banned from talking to South Dakota teachers.

    Noem picked a campaign committee to rubberstamp her campaign ploy to be the first state to implement Donald Trump’s 1776 curriculum. She’s sitting up and barking for campaign donations from Trumpists and for Trump to either pick her for VP or endorse her for President in the 2024 primary.

  6. JNNelsen 2022-04-28 11:53

    I would observe Donald is right on. Everything Gov. $Noem does is to line her pockets with other people’s money. Annie Oakley’s sideshow, not even a slight of hand, all out in the open. The fleecing of South Dakota!

  7. Arlo Blundt 2022-04-28 15:05

    Well…I guess the objective is to produce students who are ignorant of history and intolerant to minorities. They also will be unable to spell.

  8. grudznick 2022-04-28 15:57

    Mr. Harens is not a fellow to trifle with in the debates, unless you are skilled like Mr. H or grudznick.

Comments are closed.