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.