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2021 Legislature Appropriated $900K for Civics Curriculum; Most of That Money Going to Hillsdale College Standards Charade?

I think Team Noem just pulled a budget switcheroo to benefit her Hillsdale College cronies in Michigan.

Back in 2021, Governor Noem said she wanted money in the budget to develop a new South Dakota-focused K-12 social studies curriculum. The Noem Administration said $900,000 would do the trick. House Appropriations threw that figure into 2021 House Bill 1279. That bill got through the House, then was killed by Senate Appropriations. But the $900K for new social studies curriculum still got added to the final FY2022 budget.

Now Bob Mercer reports that while 21 schools have requested $561K in assistance to develop various social studies curriculum, the state has doled out only $95K of the $900K made available for that purpose. The Department of Education has decided to reroute most of that money from curriculum development to the K-12 social studies standards revision process:

According to [DOE official Shannon] Malone, $95,000 was the amount that the department decided should be spent on the grants. She said the remaining $805,000 will be used for other purposes connected to the department’s current project of revising South Dakota’s academic content standards for social studies [Bob Mercer, “Noem Anti-CRT Order Still Has Lawmakers Stirred Up,” KELO-TV, 2022.07.20].

That $900K was for curriculum, not standards. The revised standards Noem’s hand-picked board will soon rubber-stamp are not curriculum; they are just the framework of principles meant to guide schools and teachers as they choose the actual curriculum, the books, materials, lessons, and activities they will use in the classroom.

And there wouldn’t be any standards revision process to which to funnel this $805K if Governor Noem hadn’t torn up the hard work done by South Dakota educators last year to revise our K-12 social studies according to the standard procedure followed in every past year. The standards revision would be long done if the Governor hadn’t decided to restart the process, stack a smaller committee with more Republican toadies than educators, and put her radically ideological chief of staff and a professor emeritus from Hillsdale College in charge of the process to clear the way for subordinating South Dakota’s K-12 social studies standards to the ideological and business agenda of the Trumpist charter school promoters at Hillsdale.

So rather than helping the experts at our public schools develop better civics lessons for our kids, most of the $900K appropriated for that purpose in 2021 appears to be on its way to the pockets of the fiendly folks at Hillsdale as they scramble to disguise their ideological lesson plans as social studies standards for South Dakota and exploit our Department of Education to market their college.


  1. Donald Pay 2022-07-21 10:56

    Of course, Noem’s campaign will see a good chunk of that taxpayer money kicked back to her campaign fund so she can gallivant around with paramour Lewandowski. It’s all a money game to use children as a pawn to further her extra-curricular activities. Sick.

  2. 96Tears 2022-07-21 11:24

    The school districts or any legislators should sue Noem for overreaching her authority to misappropriate funds. The hacks at Hillsdale Hillbilly U were never the reason for that allocation.

  3. O 2022-07-21 11:37

    The Rights selective xenophobia shows here. Instead of trusting our own teachers, parents, and experts, the GOP looks to bring in a prepackaged political ideology for the indoctrination of SD students, and indoctrination that censors the bits of history that criticize the white, male, landowner elite for any missteps or blindspots. More and more the movement is to dieify the founding fathers — not look at them in the reality of historical context. All of that rolls back the basic tenants of education. Faith above fact.

    There was a time that SD valued independence from the national nonsense. Now we seem to be in a race to promote the most silly of that national nonsense.

    I still believe that schools should be using Jon Stewart’s “America” as a text.

  4. 96Tears 2022-07-21 11:43

    That’s how cults and religion work. Only the chosen few hold the power to select facts vs. sacrilege. Only the anointed liars are given the sole power to write history.

    Kind of how Fox News and Qanon work.

  5. P. Aitch 2022-07-21 11:47

    “Welcome to The University of South Dakota, freshpeople. Should you wish to be taken seriously upon escape from South Dakota, forget everything you’ve been taught up until now … except math and science. Public ridicule is your cross to bear. “

  6. Eve Fisher 2022-07-21 13:21

    Welcome to South Dakota, where any money that is allocated to a specific topic or department will, at the drop of a hat, be diverted, permanently, to other departments, or simply sit in the rainy day fund until Friends of the GOP need some cash, at which point it will be distributed privately. Any commentor would do well to stay out of fields and eschew shotguns.

  7. AmyB 2022-07-21 13:22

    That is exactly what I thought…that over $800k is now going to Hillsdale College to do a job that was already done by local teachers. I would hope that some members of the legislature demand an accounting of exactly where that money went…then let us all know!

  8. Arlo Blundt 2022-07-21 15:26

    800 grand for a canned, existing “curriculum ” from Hillsdale College is an insult to the education community in South Dakota and should be considered an outrage by South Dakota taxpayers. Total, and complete nonsense and at best a propaganda exercise. If it is ever issued, it will go in the trash cans of South Dakota school districts within 2 days of Noem leaving office.

  9. Arlo Blundt 2022-07-21 16:33 the Department doled out 95,000 dollars in small grants to a select few districts (not more than 21 of the 150 plus districts in the state) and has 805 grand left for “curriculum revision”. NOW..lets see the budget by expenditure and activity for the $805,000. It is part of the Department’s budget but I assume it has to be segregated and it has to be public information….Let’s get a look at the budget then, after this exercise is completed, we can get a report on how the funds were actually spent. This whole project is so greasy that budget needs to be nailed to the wall.

  10. Mark Anderson 2022-07-21 18:10

    Gosh, I’m sure a Hillsdale college curriculum will guarantee a place in any ivy league college upon high school graduation won’t it?

  11. Mary Perpich 2022-07-21 20:25

    I know Hillsdale College. I almost took a teaching job there back in 1986. When did the College became so right wing?

  12. Bill Poppen 2022-07-22 06:59

    Gov. Bill Lee of Tennessee is pushing charter schools with the Hillsdale civics program. The boards of two schools have rejected the program and teachers across the state, including Tennessee Education Association, are mounting a backlash. Seems a Hillsdale official said some very negative things about teachers, and teacher education programs.

  13. O 2022-07-22 12:36

    Bill reminds me of an important point: the State DOE can put together curriculum for schools, but don’t local districts have to officially recognize and adopt it? It will be interesting to see what locals fall in line and which object — and the public discussions the surround those decisions.

  14. Beckie 2022-07-22 14:37

    Make connections with folks in Florida and Tennessee, I also suspect this is going to happen in AZ & VA

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