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Noem Surprisingly Hesitant to Share “Divisive Concepts” Report

Kristi Noem promised us transparency. She also promised to fight “divisive concepts” like her campaign-driven misconception of critical race theory. But now when we ask to see the report she ordered in April on “divisive concepts” that might be lurking in anything the Department of Education says or does, she forgets transparency and hides the report:

The governor’s office hasn’t decided whether the public should get to see a report on whether inherently divisive concepts, such as Critical Race Theory, are present in South Dakota’s K-12 school systems.

Instead, the governor’s general counsel, Katie Hruska, said in a letter Thursday that “10 additional business days” were still needed on the matter.

KELOLAND News requested a copy on July 7. Hruska said the report would be treated as a public record request under South Dakota legal chapter 1-27.

The Legislature’s Government Operations and Audit Committee independently requested a copy on Wednesday, July 20.

Mary Stadick Smith, deputy secretary for the department, told lawmakers that day the report was “an internal document” but she left open the possibility they would receive copies [Bob Mercer, “Noem’s Lawyer: CRT Report Is Now ‘Public Record Request’,” KELO-TV, 2022.07.22].

Double baloney. The report in question is no internal document. The Governor gets internal documents by calling her Education Secretary and asking, not by signing a big fat executive order and issuing a press release. Noem very loudly and publicly ordered this report to (generous interpretation) alert the public that they would get to see the examples of “divisive concepts” she’s been warning us about all year and (realistic interpretation) to boost her very public campaign for national conserva-stardom.

The fact that Noem is now asking her lawyer to spend all month seeing if she can come up with an excuse to keep this publicly ordered and ballyhooed report secret suggests that the Department of Education didn’t find any critical race theory or other “divisive concepts” for the Governor to fight.

But hey, Kristi, why not spare yourself another losing lawsuit (because Mercer and KELO-TV are surely talking to their lawyer about what to do if you keep hiding this report)? Release the “divisive concepts” catalog you told us all about, and let the voters see just what windmills you are tilting at.


  1. ds 2022-07-25 07:49

    now is just not a good time for kridti to ballyhoo her theory. those darn catholic and now episcopal churches are professing their guilt in their treatment of indigenous peoples in Canada and even here in south Dakota…she needs to wait for a better moment on fox news to spew her lies.

  2. Phil 2022-07-25 08:12

    Kristi Noem is a divisive concept.

  3. larry kurtz 2022-07-25 08:26

    Why anyone is shocked by her conniving caprice remains a mystery. We all know Mrs. Noem is a racist and now we know she’ll do anything to keep her reputation as a stingy, corrupted career politician intact, too.

  4. mike from iowa 2022-07-25 08:31

    So Noem’s a liar. Who knew? Who could’ve known?

  5. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2022-07-25 08:33

    If the DOE has identified any “divisive concepts” in its materials, trainings, standards, etc., it should alert the public immediately. Noem’s own executive order declared that our children’s education is of “paramount importance”, and “paramount” means it takes precedence over any quibblings about open records laws. Noem’s own words oblige her to release this report immediately.

  6. Ryan 2022-07-25 08:51

    Breaking news, soon: no investigation was done and no report is written or will be written because this was just a fleeting idea passing through the empty mind and fake lips of a lowly state politician desperately wishing to be famous.

  7. DaveFN 2022-07-25 10:03

    Hillsdale needs more time to write the report.

  8. P. Aitch 2022-07-25 11:46

    Critical Race Theory is the study of the racism embedded in South Dakota government, embedded in South Dakota education, and embedded South Dakota business environments. Certainly not something Governor Noem wants to admit exists and especially not something to bring up to students. Students need to be protected from exposure to ideas that might make white people seem conniving and make white people appear to be white agenda driven.

  9. O 2022-07-25 12:20

    I’m afraid that DaveFN is on the right track with his comment. The report now doesn’t show that SD teachers are creating a liberal hotbed of divisiveness (which is code for anything the GOP does now want to acknowledge), so the report needs to get juiced to the conclusion the Governor has requested.

    For an ACTUAL application of CRT to SD education, our schools should examine things like attendance policies (which for the moment let’s assume were created color-blind). Do our school’s attendance policies suspend/punish more Native American or other students of color than white students? Do our schools other discipline policies do likewise? Do I see more Native/Students of Color in our detention/ISS rooms than their proportion in school? That is the point of CRT: to question the fairness of rules and to view those rules through a lease of racism. It is not a condemnation UNTIL the facts support that conclusion.

  10. mike from iowa 2022-07-25 12:51

    In a related vein, I saw a definition oif “Woke” that encompasses most everyone except magats. Anyone who didn’;t sleep through science or history class.

  11. Arlo Blundt 2022-07-25 14:09

    Who, in their right mind, would want to work in the South Dakota Department of Education???

  12. Vi Kingman 2022-07-25 14:18

    I’m guessing they found nothing and are trying to write it in very vague terms. Just like when she uses the words “divisive” and “Freedom.” She’s never fines specific examples

  13. Mark Anderson 2022-07-25 16:16

    Jeepers, South Dakota State University has lost the last two times it played the University of South Dakota. Is that a divisive concept?

  14. DaveFN 2022-07-25 17:18

    Human resource departments of South Dakota universities a few years ago required faculty to sign-off on diversity training. The on-line module created by some third party discussed the concept of “unconscious bias.”

    Is that related to what got Noem’s nose in a snit?

  15. Arlo Blundt 2022-07-25 18:27

    Anyone who objects to a “divisive concept” and lets it bother them, has never lived in a small town.

  16. O 2022-07-25 20:17

    Arlo, that is what is incredible. In my experience, the rank-and-file of the DOE are wonderful, helpful, resourceful people who believe in education insulated from politics. Most of the time, they get to toil in total anonymity — until education becomes a political issue and they are given marching orders from the Governor. In previous discussions I have referred to them in the most positive way as the “deep state” of public servants that MAGA’s rail about; the hard-working, apolitical, under-staffed yeomen who believe in the good of public education.

  17. grudznick 2022-07-25 20:49

    Isn’t politics in general a divisive concept?

    Fer gosh sakes, bacon vs. sausage is a divisive concept except for those who can afford both with every breakfast, and ham too.

  18. Donald Pay 2022-07-25 21:38

    I’ve got some examples of “divisive concepts:” the Declaration of Independence, and the Constitution. In their time, both of these were extremely divisive. Even today we argue, sometimes violently, about what certain things in these documents mean. Yet we teach our impressionable children about these documents in school! We can’t have that!!! How about the Bible? That’s so divisive a concept that we have umpteen Christian denominations that can’t agree on what the Bible says or means.

    I can’t figure out what the problem is with learning about divisive concepts. Can anyone explain that to me?

  19. O 2022-07-25 23:24

    My dear Mr. Grudznick, politics is indeed divisive; governance is not. It is time your GOP learned to do far more of the latter and far less of the former when in office.

  20. Arlo Blundt 2022-07-25 23:56

    O…I agree totally in your description of the work and dedication of Department of Ed. employees…but…how much abuse can a person take in their job???Sooner or later you’d have to ask..”Is there something else out there??

  21. Bob Newland 2022-07-26 09:35

    How is “governance” made distinct from “politics?”

  22. O 2022-07-26 10:53

    Bob, politics is the auditioning for the gig; governance is performance of the gig. The distinction is power of the office and using it to do the work that the office requires — in this case, working toward the public good of ALL the people (both who voted for you and who did not) your elected position serves.

  23. Bob Newland 2022-07-26 11:08

    Politics: “The continual argument over who gets to do what to whom; for how long, and against what degree of dissent.”–Lewis Lapham

  24. CK 2022-08-04 18:59

    I want to be like O when I grow up.

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