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Teachers’ Feedback on Hillsdale Standards: 10 Yea, 4 Meh, 230+ Nay.

Yesterday was the deadline for submitting written comment on the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad Hillsdale K-12 social studies curriculum standards for consideration at Monday’s hearing before the Board of Education Standards in Aberdeen. One can still submit public comment throughout the public hearing process, which will continue over the coming months with three more meetings, in Sioux Falls (Nov. 21), Rapid City (TBA), and Pierre (TBA).

As of close of business yesterday, hundreds of individuals had submitted 709 written comments that, as printed by the BOES in ridiculously fine print, span 350 pages.

South Dakota Board of Education Standards, public comment on proposed second revision of K-12 social studies standards, 2022.09.16, p. 1 of 350.
South Dakota Board of Education Standards, public comment on proposed second revision of K-12 social studies standards, 2022.09.16, p. 1 of 350. Click to embiggen, and you’ll still have trouble reading it on anything smaller than my 27-inch screen.

That’s a lot to process in an unmanageable document, so let’s give priority to the experts who usually take primary responsibility for developing statewide standards who were boxed out of the process of writing these standards, the professionals who would have to translate these standards into practical lessons for our kids, the K-12 educators.

(I quote here the commenters who have identified themselves as active or retired K-12 teachers or administrators. I also excerpt only comments made under the first “overall” comment box and leave out grade-level-specific comments. I present comments in favor first, followed by comments against. Within the pro/con categories, I list comments in the same order as presented in the BOES document. The only exception to this order is that I group multiple comments from the same individual with that individual’s first comment. I omit comments that do not include a full name. I make minor grammar corrections.)

First, here are the educators generally approving the Hillsdale standards—10 individuals, about 600 words:

Mike Mathis: I think this is great. Instilling a strong foundation for our children is so important.

Sarah Skatvold: I do like the fact that these standards are specific enough that I do not have to question which standard I am teaching in class.

Austin Albers: Overall, these standards are a great improvement. I appreciate the direction: creating more virtuous citizens with love of country while acknowledging its flaws and free from political activism. The standards give more detailed direction which will serve teachers well to orient their course with more precision. The inclusion of various essays (narrative, informative, and persuasive) are welcome additions that are necessary to the formation of research skills and critical thinking.

Megan Tschetter: My children have learned all of this starting at kindergarten. Methods include, songs, maps, chants, and hands on activities! There is no reason that every kid in South Dakota shouldn’t know or be able to learn this material.

Sally Sisk: The new social studies standards over all are awesome! They do a great job of depicting the true nature of our state and nation’s history. I strongly encourage you to pass them!

Glenna Remington (former): As a person of faith and values, I love the new Social Studies standards. They have an accurate depiction of US and SD HIstory and I especially appreciate no CRT! It includes economics and is overall great! Please enact these standards. Sincerely, Glenna Remington

Shannon Stubbe: I really appreciate and am thankful for the overall social studies standards. I think that how it is laid out and added to the previous year’s knowledge is vital to continued learning and expanding that knowledge each year is vital. These are great standards that we should be proud to uphold and teach our students. South Dakota students will be at the top of their classes for the wealth of information they have been given to learn and the connections they have been able to make with our great American and World History. Thank you to all the people who put in the time to create, draft and work these out, you did a fantastic job and should be proud to have these as our basis for learning across our great state. These [truly] teach about we the people. I would be thankful and grateful to have learned this while I was in school or for any student in our state. These standards set our students up for success. If a student changes schools or districts they can know that they will not be lost in class as students across the state are all learning basically the same things and that pressure is lifted from them. I encourage you to adopt these standards as is and see how our students rise to the challenge, the opportunities that they are presented with and the knowledge they will have when they proudly graduate as a South Dakota student.

Amy Shaeffer: Excellent. Please adopt without revision.

Wendy Olson: These standards seem to present history in a balanced, accurate, and comprehensive way. The study of government and economics flows from and is included in the historical narrative throughout the curriculum. I appreciate this great attempt at an honest and accurate study of the who, what, where, when, and why’s of this great nation with all our failures and all our successes. I think students will see that this is a country they can be proud to be citizens of and realize that we have been a nation intent in righting our wrongs over all of our history no matter how imperfectly we have done it.

Mindy Erickson: Keep it all. It looks great!

Second, I find four educator-commenters who seem to take a mixed position in their ~340 words:

Wyatt Vander Vorst: A majority of the proposed standards contain interesting and important topics. The main concern that I have is the number of standards proposed. As an educator, I want to cover as much as possible, however, that is not feasible with this amount of standards.

Kayla Besco: While I agree with and uphold the OSEU standards and how they’re asked to be implemented in the state standards, the rest of the standards are either too developmentally inappropriate, too broad to cover well in an academic year, or too inappropriate in general.

Alan Baskerville: As a High School Government teacher: I am unclear on the section of the Standards “Debating current political positions or partaking in political activism at the bequest of a school or teacher does not belong in a K-12 social studies class…” I know as a teacher we should never be activists on certain topics or issues. We are here only to inform them of their role in the government. I also think it is important to talk about the issues in a rational and logical way using the Constitution and the Declaration as their guide in the decision making of our country. Could I get some clarification on what is meant by debating political positions? Would we not be able to teach the unit on platforms and planks?

LeighAnn Dunn: Good ideas. Lacks guidance for execution. Too many expectations. Utterly embarrassing for teachers in the professional world. Comments coming in from around the country on ridiculousness of these and the rigor expected. Maybe Change these standards into project based learning such as make a 3-D diagram, make a coding project, reenact a time period, learn about culture (food, clothing, music) of a time period, make a video of social movement (Civil Rights). Take field trips to museums, Pow Wow’s, historical sites (General Custer’ Camp, Fort Meade Cemetery, Wounded Knee, Laura Ingalls Home etc..)

Students retain history through hands on learning. Reading and watching videos isn’t enough!!’ It’s also important to include South Dakota history the good and the ugly.

Finally, here are the educators generally opposing the adoption of the Hillsdale standards—over 230 individuals, weighing in with nearly 35,000 words:

Jenna Peters: I am not in favor of these new standards. As a 6-12 English/Language Arts teacher and a mother of a 1st grader and 5th grader, I am wondering where we are to find the time to teach all of these standards along with the Math, ELA, and Science standards. It’s just not reasonable. I would love for our kids to learn about all of these concepts, ideas, historical figures, wars, etc. but it’s just not reasonable or fair to put that expectation on these kids.

Lexi Johnson: Way [too] wordy and advanced for each grade level and ability level

Judith Wright: Please, please, please say no to these standards. As an educator I value the educational standards of nationally accredited institutions of learning and the expertise of trained educators. The creators of these standards lack both aside from a few teachers (I believe there were three). What a slap in the face of those who actually teach children. The fact these standards have been even proposed is just another affront to the teaching profession as I am yet to meet even ONE educator and ANY level that thinks these standards are anything but political maneuvering. The cost of our students’ education and well being is too high to pay for political pandering. Please do the moral thing, and listen to educators and the public on what they want represented in the standards. Say no to this political agenda and remember what’s best for students.

Steven Scarbrough (retired): These standards do not seem to be spiralled. Concepts do not match the cognitive age level in nearly every level and limit a variety of learning preferences. They are this not acceptable. Contact me for more info.

McKenzie Bakken: Think of ADULTS. How many of them can correctly speak about the Middle Ages? Roman Empire? War of 1812? Additionally, with Social Studies not being a core subject area, there is in no way possible enough time in the school day/year for every single one of the outlined standards to be addressed when a majority of elementary schools are having to teach Social Studies for half of the school year and Science for the remaining half of the school year.

Camille Binder: As a long time educator, previously certified K-8, I strongly oppose the proposed Social Studies Content Standards.

  1. The proposed standards ignore important factors that improve the learning process.
    • The proposed standards introduce facts and information and then do not return to the material in subsequent lessons or grade levels.
    • Repetition influences knowledge acquisition by aiding learners to understand and organize material.
    • Prior knowledge has a direct influence on the ability to learn.
  2. The proposed standards are grossly inappropriate for the intended age and grade level.
  3. The proposed standards are not education standards, in that they do not state goals; but, are instead a prescribed curriculum or list of activities.

Wendy Larson:

  1. The standards themselves are not written as if they have a purpose. EVERY standard appears to be a “list” of what to read about and explain. That, in itself, is disturbing because we are taking out the application of knowledge and giving students no opportunities to think critically or apply anything to their lives. There is no longer a “purpose” for learning.
  2. Many of the “lists” of things to study are just a repetition at every level. The introductory letter to the teachers stated that the repetition was meant to BUILD on previous years. This has not been accomplished because the lists are written the same way at every level. High school has some additional lists and application at the senior level. This is unacceptable in terms of teaching students to be valued members of society.
  3. Many of the standards are completely inappropriate for certain age levels.
  4. The chronology meant to make more sense actually makes less sense because without certain ideas and pieces, it is impossible for students to understand an event happening in time. (Example: In 7th grade students are supposed to “explain” the Federalists and Anti-Federalists: however, they are not “explaining” the Bill of Rights until 12th grade. It is impossible to teach the viewpoints of Federalists and Anti-Federalists without addressing the Bill of Rights, Compromises, etc. Although, somewhere in the standard there needs to be a purpose for studying the Federalists and Anti-Federalists. That is NOT addressed right now. )
  5. The civics standards are mostly nonexistent and the critical thinking and understanding the responsibility of being a citizen. Understanding how to find true information from the web, media, etc. is not addressed until 12th grade! Even then, it is only mentioned in the list. Again, the purpose and objectives are all gone.
  6. I also find it unacceptable that we are not using standards revised and prepared by educators. Teachers are the experts in their field, and South Dakota teachers were left out of the process.

Overall I am completely baffled by these “NEW” standards. What need is being addressed? Why the radical change? What is the purpose? None of that has been addressed in the Introduction to the proposal. I have taught in South Dakota public schools for over 23 years. i currently teach 8th grade social studies. I DO NOT have a problem embracing positive change. Respectfully, these standards are NOT positive. They are the most poorly written standards I have EVER encountered. (Please understand that I use the term “standard” loosely, as it appears to be a “list” of things to study with no purpose or thinking attached to it.

Sean Bradley: I have been a certified teacher in South Dakota since 2010. I have a Masters in Teaching, Learning, and Leadership. I am certified to teach everything grade 7-12 English Language Arts, US and World History, Civics, Geography, and Government. In the past, I have participated in the State Department of Education Standards review process; my name is on the most recent South Dakota State Standards for English Language Arts as the 11th and 12th Grade Table Lead. I tell you all of this in the hopes that you will listen when I say the proposed Social Studies standards are both laughably complex and woefully inadequate, developmentally inappropriate, and will not meet the 21st century needs of students.

For example, one of the proposed 1st Grade standards says:

“1.SS.4. The student demonstrates knowledge of ancient civilizations in Asia, the Middle East, northern Africa, and the eastern Mediterranean Sea.
A. The student identifies the major cultural features, stories, and contributions of Ancient India, Babylon, and Ancient China. H
B. The student identifies the major cultural features, stories, and contributions of Ancient Egypt, including agriculture, hieroglyphic writing, and papyrus. H C. The student explains the major historical events and stories of the ancient Hebrews. H
D. The student identifies the major figures and stories within Greek mythology. H
E. The student tells the story of the Persian Wars, including the battles of Marathon and Thermopylae. H
F. The student identifies the major cultural features and contributions of Athens, including pottery, architecture, sculpture, and democracy. HC
G. The student tells the story of the Peloponnesian War. H
H. The student tells the story of the conquests of Alexander of Macedon. H”

This is far too advanced for 6 year old students who are still learning basic concepts such as writing their names with proper formation of all letters and proper punctuation, listing the names of presidents, and identifying different animals. A. is currently taught in 7th grade. D. is currently taught in 8th grade. These standards are asking students to do things that are completely beyond their skill level and ability to comprehend.

Conversely, the standard is almost identical in the grade 9-12 band, asking students to identify, explain, compare, and tell, completely ignoring Bloom’s Taxonomy and Webb’s Depth of Knowledge; these are all basic skills that do not move into Strategic or Extended Thinking categories. Failure to develop these skills will leave students completely unprepared for coursework in college and beyond.

Also, looking at the proposed standard listed above, there are eight specific things that need to be taught in 1st grade. There are eleven such standards in the 1st grade American and World History standards, where students are required to be proficient in 96 different concepts by the end of the year. This is in an elementary school classroom, where students also are required to be proficient readers, learn rudimentary science concepts, add and subtract two-digit numbers, and be tested at least three times a year on their literacy. These standards would require an inordinate amount of time focused on teaching Social Studies, and, quite honestly, they could not be covered in a standard school year.

Additionally, there is very little in these standards that addresses South Dakota history and culture, minimizing – or outright ignoring – the impact and contributions of the Oyate in South Dakota history. Most mention of the impact and contributions of the Oyate have been relegated to an optional high school class that has yet to be developed and is not currently taught in any school district in the state.

This leads me to my most important point: there is not a single public school district in the country that is using these standards, or ones similar to them. That means there is no curriculum, no resources available to teach to these standards. I would imagine that Hillsdale College would have something… and charge the state a pretty penny for curriculum adoption, which is supposed to be at the discretion of districts, not mandated by the state.

These standards are woefully inadequate in several ways: developmentally inappropriate on both ends of the spectrum, too incredibly complex to be taught in a general education classroom, lack focus on important South Dakota history and culture, and force teachers to teach step-by-step rote memorization and recitation – skills that do not translate to proficiency in a 21st century classroom. I would urge the state Board of Education to reject these proposed standards and return the process to the hands of dedicated education professionals where it belongs, and keep politics out of South Dakota classrooms. Thank you.

Eric Knight: The process for standards adoption was not followed. This will create a double adoption of standards in one year and/or the overlapping in already purchased curriculums. It is concerning to me that we would purchase a curriculum from a singular provider. In all other curriculum areas, we do a curriculum review to make sure the curriculum meets the standards, assessments, and our student and teacher needs. The adoption of these standards would not allow for this valuable work to be done. As a district superintendent, the undertaking of these standards will create about 30% more funding to adopt successfully. With the drastic shift in standards, districts will be required to pay teachers for summer work required to teach these standards. The standards are not age appropriate. I believe we have done such a quality job creating learning environments that foster problem solving and inquiry based learning. These standards throw those skills we have worked so hard to capture out the door. We move back into rote memorization as the primary form of learning. Finally and most profoundly, in my district, we have worked very diligently to meet the needs of our work force through CTE offerings. Whether it was providing funding for classrooms, teacher certification, or project we have worked to expand our CTE offerings and programming over the last four years. This has helped our local workforce, students, and businesses. In a small school schedules are very tight, the expanded social studies classes that will need to be taken by students will reduce their ability to take CTE courses. This will be a difficult conversation to have with our local business leaders who have seen the positive affects of our expanded CTE program. It will also be a difficult conversation to have with our leaners who have chosen the CTE pathway for graduation and their post high school lives. In turn, this will create more problems in the classroom and less student engagement. The adoption of these standards as written will have lasting negative affects on our students, schools, and communities.

Dr. Keri Tisher: I cannot express how unreasonable and inappropriate the first grade standards are. I have been teaching first grade for over 20 years and I find that the sheer number and topics listed for first graders to be ridiculous. There is already a teacher shortage in this state. I can’t imagine that forcing teachers to teach these would help this matter.

Paula Janovy: Horrible!!!

Alyssa Lindstrom: The proposed social studies standards are developmentally inappropriate at every age level. We are pressuring our kids to hold more knowledge at a younger age and pressuring our teachers to cover so many standards by the end of the year, and therefore educators are not able to teach the students very important life lessons that are needed to survive in today’s society. A first grade student does not need to be able to tell a story of the Persian War. A third grader does not need to know the roles of Hannibal and [Scipio] Africanus during the Punic Wars. People often ask the questions, “What is happening in our society?” “Why is there so much violence?” The answer is simple – we are pressuring our kids TOO much. Kids need to be kids. As educators, we need to foster their creativity, help them problem solve, teach them to be upstanding citizens. This doesn’t happen if we are so focused on teaching standards that are way too rigorous at a young age. Social studies is an important topic for students of all ages, but if it’s not taught at the right level, what’s the point?

Andrew Fergen: The new social studies standards need to follow a better process. We only had two teachers on the standards review which needed to be more. The standards were written from a higher education perspective which does not help our students. I am a former social studies teacher and history major for my undergraduate degree. We are having elementary, middle, and high school students learn material I didn’t learn in college. The material is vast and there is little higher level thinking associated with the standards. As a former social studies teacher, higher level thinking in social studies increases student buy-in with the subject along with makes them understand material at a critical thinking level which is what you need in society. I do not think our current graduation requirements fit the standards in high school. You will need at least 3 semesters to cover U.S. history standards appropriately and 2 semesters to teacher government standards appropriately. We need to go back to the drawing board and find standards that prepare students for the 21st century. Now as a superintendent, I see that the curriculum for the new social studies standards are only found in the Hillsdale curriculum. My school would need to purchase curriculum that is not in our current budget and would be hard to fit in a future budget. Ultimately, this decision to keep these standards will increase money spent by schools, encourage teachers to leave the profession with lack of buy-in from students, and hurt the education of our students. No one wins in these standards that are being proposed!

Kyle Knips: Garbage. I cannot believe anyone on the committee thought these standards were appropriate. If the goal is to drive away teachers from a profession that is already facing a shortage, these standards will do just the trick. What was wrong with the standards that were proposed last year (before they were edited by the DOE) by actual South Dakota teachers?

Patrick Mikkonen: The standards reveal a lack of educators involved in the process. Scope and sequence are not logical and doesn’t build upon itself from year to year and grade band to grade band

  • Time and resources required for curriculum overhaul, training/PD will be extensive
  • No higher order thinking, no skills development
  • There is a lot of depth missing from the standards that teachers will be “assumed” or “expected” to teach, without guidance or clarification on skills development or application. This impacts everything from daily instruction to accreditation.
  • Sheer volume of standards is not possible – inch deep and a mile wide; It is impossible to accomplish coverage with the time available and assume any quality of instruction.
  • Staff retention – don’t want to get involved with overhaul/retraining/development
  • Dual credit and post-secondary options – standards no longer align to allow for offerings
  • Planning and preparation for current students – even with a two-year preparation period, will result in significant learning gaps
  • Standards are incredibly specific – there is no flexibility/autonomy available for our teachers. The resulting product will be “cookie cutter” in nature – there will not be civic mindedness, or developed skill sets that allow for intelligent conversation, discourse, and/or collaboration to develop a functional, cohesive society.
  • Support of ELA standards in Social Studies Standards is needed/expected – there is no alignment between the two core subjects in this proposal, which is detrimental to the overall/comprehensive education we are providing
  • Standards Subpoints – “complete the following tasks.” There is no flexibility. Authentic teaching/learning experiences will be non-existent.
  • South Dakotans believe in local control why was that changed for this revision?
  • Typical reviews of standards have a group of 50-60 members representing the communities in SD, educators in k-12, higher education, and department of education.
  • The revised Social Studies Content Standards are a result of the contributions of educators from across the state. Many hours were devoted to research and thoughtful consideration of issues to ensure that the standards would reflect rigorous social studies teaching and provide opportunities for students to learn important social studies concepts, facts, and processes. The Social Studies Content Standards Revision Committee members represent concerned individuals across the state dedicated to their profession and to high-quality social studies education. Without their contributions, the revision of the Social Studies Content Standards would not have been possible
  • You’re losing your perspective of the stakeholders in SD by narrowing your scope of who is on the committee.
  • When there are fewer people at the table [there] is the ability to push a narrative that maybe disagreeable to many.
  • The new proposed standards are not developmentally appropriate.
  • Is your child prepared to master all of these standards as proposed?
  • Economics with limited PD for teachers, 60-72% more in implementation cost
  • Adoption process did not involve educators. Entirely contradictory of past practice.
  • Curriculum access – might have to double adoption cost
  • Potential million dollars cost state-wide But, we don’t want to use this as a key argument, as we believe elected officials will just throw money at public education and reduce our argument.
  • Will lose teachers in the profession (veteran and potential new teachers) If you think staff who are close to retirement age would rather end their career rather than take the time and energy to participate in extensive PD.
  • Reduced course options for high school students – workforce development and CTE programming will be impacted as students will be required to take more Social Science courses
  • Align Dual Credit classes – reduced students will be able to take DC options, unless college courses align with new HS standards.

Deb Smith: Absolutely UNREALISTIC!!!

Rachel Ruffinott: Overall the standards are unattainable for students and setting a false standard for what teachers are expected to teach on top of handling behaviors, core subject content, and social/emotional needs of students.

Jennifer O’Connell: I have been a teacher for 28 years and am very concerned about the proposed social studies standards. The group that formed these standards has obviously not spent time in an elementary classroom. If they had they would realize they are not developmentally appropriate. How can skills that are currently taught in junior high now be moved down to 3rd grade? Another concern I have is the number of standards I would be required to teach in a year. There is simply not enough time in a day/school year to teach all of these standards. Finally, I hope if the state approves these standards that they are planning on funding the purchase of new curriculum, new classroom materials, and staff training. The state cannot expect school district to cover the costs of needed to implement these standards and tax payers should not be required to fund standards that have no scope and sequence and are not appropriate. This proposal will simply cost districts and taxpayers money that they do not have. This is a shame when there is absolutely nothing wrong with our current standards. I hope that the committee will rethink the proposed standards and actually listen to the educators and schools who work with these students every day. Thank you.

Tammy Taecker: These standards are so far over a child’s grasp of reasoning (at the current grade level they are being proposed for in the elementary grades), that it isn’t teachable. In addition, there are so many standards that the students will struggle to retain much of this information. Time allotment in class should be taken in to consideration as well as this amount of information will need much more time to be learned. Another curriculum area would most likely need to be downsized to teach this amount/complexity of information.

Melissa Meissner: After reading all of the proposed standards, including standards for the grade I teach (1st), I cannot support the standards as written. More input is definitely needs from teachers who teach each of these grade levels to achieve more appropriate standards.

Beth A Kaltsulas: I question the process that was used to write these standards. It is evident that teachers were either not involved or not “heard” when the standards were written. As a whole, the standards are not age-appropriate – far too complex for the students. We should be educating children to problem-solve and know how to use history to guide the present. Memorization should be reserved for concepts like math facts to help develop their mental math – not essential in social studies. For example, if a student is able to find the Preamble online, they should not be required to memorize it; they should be taught how to find the content like we adults do. Learning about the Preamble’s message is far more important.

The vocabulary at each level is very difficult.

I like that SD history and geography are included in the standards.

Why would people from outside SD be asked to write our state’s standards? I have taught in SD for 35 years and I am the 2017 SD Teacher of the Year. I have taught 2nd-6th grades. Please consider my comments and the comments of all of the SD teachers. We know our students and their student development.

Patricia Sjurson: The proposed social studies standards at the primary level are too extensive and beyond the comprehension level of young learners. Primary students need to concentrate on learning how to read and comprehend as well as grade appropriate math skills.

Missy Urbaniak: The K-6 content is inappropriate, the amount of standards is triple what is currently expected, and there is no curriculum or resources written for these standards at these developmental levels. I have grave concerns about the implementation of such standards. I am a lifelong resident of South Dakota, and I have taught in this state for twenty years. I am proud to be a strong republican who supports our current governor. But, this is a misstep. These standards are not what our children need. We need standards that are written by teachers who have experience in the classroom and who understand child development. I have been involved in social studies curriculum selection at my district’s level in the past. I know from experience that there are no resources that would match these standards at these grade levels, because this content is wildly inappropriate. Adopting such standards would only create more, unnecessary work for school districts and teachers who are already overworked, and would provide no additional benefit for the students.
Respectfully submitted,
a very concerned teacher

Sierra Vanderzee: Overall, I would vote no. They do not seem developmentally appropriate for elementary level students.

Kaitlyn Sasker: I am an early childhood educator in the state of SD and the standards that are being proposed are developmentally inappropriate and place unachievable expectations on our students and teacher. While many of the topics are things I hope my own children to be educated on, where they are placed in a child’s educational career are not appropriate in any way. Please, please, please- revisit these proposed standards again. Perhaps, with more input from EDUCATORS- the ones who know how children learn AND the ones who will be expected to teach these to children. Let’s not set up our students to fail!

Arlene Smith: There are several areas that need to be re-examined and/or completely left out. If parts of the truth are left out of history, there is no point in teaching it because half truths prevent the students from gaining a complete understanding of the world around them and acquiring growth mindsets.

Sr. Lynn Marie Welbig (former): I ask that the recently submitted Social Studies Standards for South Dakota be rejected. The primary reason is the inappropriate goals for the standards which are being driven by the political interests of Governor Noem. She has made clear her goals for the standards are to make South Dakota a national leader in social studies education, and to condition our young students with the creed of American exceptionalism. Are these appropriate goals for our students’ social studies education?

To these ends she has adopted the product of a private college with political beliefs similar to our governor’s and a curriculum for a state that has little in common with South Dakota. Reports have it that the governor even offered to build an entire campus to import and duplicate the Michigan ideology here! She put her finger on the scale, spending tax payer’s money to bring the curriculum and a strong proponent of it into our standards committee.

What is the purpose of social studies curriculum? Like all aspects of education, it should form as well as inform toward responsible citizenship. What values, social awareness and social responsibility do we want to provide for our South Dakota students by way of their social studies curriculum? Is it primarily about being superior to others? And is the formative methodology rote memory…conditioning? Or do we want to develop inquiry, analysis and social responsiveness as our students study the American and South Dakota story?

Our teachers and school administrators are pushing back against the politics and the ideology being imposed on our educational system by our Governor. We haven’t forgotten her legislative ‘cure’ of our non-existent critical race theory in our elementary and secondary schools.

Our students, our school personnel and our families deserve Social Studies Standards that truthfully present the history of this country and state, as well as an understanding of the past and present social fabric that has grown out of that history. These standards should reflect the experience and the wisdom of our South Dakota citizens. Why is this rejected by our own Governor? Why is she importing some foreign, ideologically motivated set of standards?

Please reject these standards and consider the adoption of the original standards developed earlier by South Dakotans, citizens who represented the various constituents in our state, and who worked with dedication and diligence with their task. Thank you.
Sister Lynn Marie Welbig, PBVM, PhD

Bria Peppel: DO NOT ADOPT THESE!!!!!

Heather Olson: I want to first thank you for allowing people to give input on the proposed social studies standards for the state of South Dakota. I only commented on the grade levels of my children in the comments above; however, as an educator reading through these standards I am embarrassed that our state would want to change what is working.

Some of the proposed standards are biased and political. As educators, it is our job to educate students both sides of each topic, not persuade anyone into our political beliefs. I am saddened that the expectations for the younger age groups is above their grade level that we will see students struggle just to make sure that they have all the presidents of the United States memorized. Students grow up with technology or resources at their hands, we do not need to waist valuable instructional time teaching students to memorize the names of the presidents instead we need to focus on the facts of the events of history.

My overall opinion about the proposed standards is the fact that the people developing the standards are not educators, there are political biases in the standards, and many racial language written. The most disappointment is #10 from the “Guiding [Principles] of High Quality Standard” component where it reads, “Debating current political positions or partaking in political activism at the bequest of a school or teacher does not belong in a K-12 social studies class, and the color of one’s skin does not determine what one can or should learn.” What would the “color of one’s skin” have to do with learning? Do you mean ethnicity or race? The language is offensive and should not be written. I would think that we should teach each student as they are equals not point out any differences.

Thank you for your time

Amy Kartak: As an educator, I recognize the importance of teaching this information to students; however, these standards lack an awareness of the age and developmental appropriateness for the proposed grade levels of each standard. I urge you to take time to actually visit with students at each age level. Ask them questions and realize these are NOT appropriate.

Kristie Marie Baumeister: They always too long, too much recall and not enough critical thinking. Standards shouldn’t be a check list. You will lose teachers! They cannot possibly teach these things in a meaningful way. Lack of Native American examples as well. Do not do this to teachers or students, they will go backwards in social studies not forward.

Dr. Greg Aas: I have been actively involved in the teaching of Social Studies in South Dakota for more than three decades. I have been a teacher (including Soc. St.), coach, guidance counselor, and have recently retired after twenty-eight years as a building principal. I have concerns with the standards themselves, and maybe more concern for the process.

In the years/decades I was responsible to oversee the instruction of Social Studies I found it refreshing to see delivery move from memorization of places and timelines to helping students understand civilizations, economies, and geography. We as Americans are criticized for having a poor understanding and knowledge of geography. One theory being we think it’s all about us, and have little interest in other places and cultures. I see the latest proposed standards to set us back decades with this. I also am very concerned with how the standards do not support contemporary knowledge and practice for developmentally appropriate instruction (What is appropriate to teach at which age).

My next, and probably larger concern is for the process. The usual process that included input from local experts and educators was tossed out after a huge investment of time and money when it did not reflect the much less educated opinions of those currently in power. Hand picking the next group to guarantee the desired result was inconsistent with past practice and clearly inappropriate. The poor standards that are likely to be adopted are a big concern, but replacing the democratic process with one obviously dictatorial should be a concern to anyone. The state says our students deserve, “History and civics instruction free from political agendas and activism.” This entire process smacks of significant political agenda and activism and is a glaring example of hypocrisy.

I wish I were more optimistic in my hopes that the powers that be will follow the guidance of those on the front lines and really are experts in their fields, and steer away from the political motivation that has obviously corrupted this process.

Travis Dahle: The fact that you had multiple professionals and teachers spend a good amount of time coming up with some good standards only to throw them out, give someone $200,000 from Hillsdale College to push a religious and wholly inappropriate standards for younger kids and not have in-depth discussion at the high school level is just plain insulting.

The standards from last year should have never been thrown out. This has become way too political. Take politics out and get out-of-state consultants out of here as well. Listen to teachers who know what they are doing instead of politicians who are pushing an agenda so they can increase their national profile.

Rob Sylliaasen: The faith terms that appear in these standards and teachers will need to teach: Jesus 5, Christian 37, Christianity 12, Jewish 3, Buddhism 3, Hinduism 3, Muslim 18, and Islam 3. The number of times these terms appear in the current set of standards: 0. With the adoption of these standards, teachers will see a shift in what and when they are teaching items. The faith terms that are in the proposed sets of standards are an example of an area that teachers will need a lot of PD support to make them feel comfortable teaching on these items. Even with that PD support, I believe many will not feel comfortable and will open themselves and school districts up to conflicts/personal opinions as to how the faith terms are being presented in the classroom.

The standards as proposed do not align with the cognitive ability and age appropriateness of the learners involved. I believe this is setting teachers up for failure with a proposal that is unachievable, for example:

  • Standards aren’t developmentally appropriate according to grade level
  • 1st graders are currently learning about time (yesterday, today, tomorrow) – ancient history is an abstract concept they are not prepared to grasp. The gilded age, etc.
  • 1st grade – Primary vs Secondary sources (don’t learn about this in ELA until 3rd-5th grade)
  • Early elementary is focusing on learning how to read. We are expecting them to memorize major documents. -Talking about lifestyle and traditional warfare.

Overall, these standards reveal a lack of educators’ involvement in the process. The scope and sequence are not logical and doesn’t build upon itself from year to year and grade band to grade band. The lack of higher order thinking has been replaced with memorization and low-level thinking skill sets. I’m extremely concerned about the sheer volume of standards that we are asking educators to get through in a school year. These standards will be an inch deep and a mile wide and educators will find it impossible to accomplish covering all of them with the amount of time available to them in a school day. The proposed standards are also extremely specific, which I believe will produce a cookie cutter approach to instruction and not lead to civic mindedness, or developed skill sets that allow for intelligent conversation, discourse, and/or collaboration to develop a functional, cohesive society.

Teachers will need to create A LOT of curricula to make this work or select one specifically available curriculum (resources don’t exist that align with this, outside of one specific source – namely Hillsdale). Districts/educators want/need more than one option available to deliver instruction. They also should not be required to utilize a specific curriculum, either by mandate or lack of available options.

Lastly, all community members and taxpayers, regardless of their standing as a parent or member of the school community, have a right to be represented in the proposed social studies standards. One of the most significant concerns to be brought to my school community’s attention is the lack of representation from members of our state and local communities, as well as how our tax dollars were spent under the purview of a new process. Many of those dollars went out of state to bring in guidance from individuals with no connection to South Dakota. Their understanding of our people, our communities, and our history is limited. Those on the commission with knowledge of our state represent only a handful of individuals, meaning that viewpoints and perspectives are limited at best. The last time I can recall standards being developed out of the state was the Common Core Standards for math and reading. This has parents from my school community concerned as they remember the difficulty of that implementation. The proposed standards are flawed and I hope educators who represent their LOCAL districts voices can be heard and appreciated in the development of the social studies standards that eventually get approved.

P. A. Harens: I am an educator with 39 years’ experience as full-time classroom teacher. I have another eight (8) years as adjunct professor and substitute teacher in the Yankton Area. I was a table leader for the 2021 Social Studies Standards Committee (SSSC) in the area of World History. After the committee had submitted their standards, all of the table leaders were contacted for a copy of their sources used (we were told it was to make sure these were South Dakota Standards and not someone else’s).

I can speak for the World History table and say that we looked at four sources, but did not like the information they had. Our table rewrote old standards and/or created new ones. I believe most of the other tables did the same. The newest edition from the 2022 SSSC group are NOT South Dakota Standards. They were created at Hillsdale College education department. Hillsdale creates sources for the use of Charter and Private Schools that they administer and get paid for. Charter schools are not used in South Dakota. Unfortunately, according to WBIR 10 News NBC news the President of Hillsdale College said. “…the teachers are trained in the dumbest parts of the dumbest colleges in the country,” There is recorded evidence of this about public school teachers.

This is from the institution that wrote the Social Studies Standards for South Dakota. Public School Teachers in SD are some of the hardest working, continuing educated, and professional people you will find. They are not dumb and to insinuate that any state and private colleges are dumb is an insult to the entire nation’s college and/or university institutions.

These are the type of people that wrote that standards that were handed to the SSSC to force into a structure, that is what we see when we look at the new standards that Gov. Noem wants. Unfortunately, Gov. Noem has turned the issue of Social Studies Educational Standards into Conservative Christian Movement, which is a political action.

There are several large problems with the SSSC group standards. First, the standards are primarily lesson plans and not standards. By trying to make standards like this, content is mandated. This is political and not educational.

Secondly, the standards/lessons are primarily rote learning, memorization only. There is little or no critical thinking in these standards. This is what is called “Classical Education.” It is primarily used in charter or private schools and colleges.

Third, they do not allow inquiry standards. The inquiry standards include the following areas: Developing Questions and Planning Inquiries; Essential Questions; Constructing Supporting Questions: Determining Helpful Sources, Evaluating Sources, and Using Evidence; Gathering and Evaluating Sources; Developing Claims and Using Evidence.

Fourth, many of the standards in the early and upper grade school levels are not age appropriate. Plus, just how much time are elementary teachers supposed to put into these standards. Do they give up time from learning to read, write, add, etc….

Fifth, the elimination of Geography and South Dakota History classes is shameful. I have always been proud of South Dakota’s teaching of Geography. I have visited many other states and most of the young adults have no idea where South Dakota is and what it has (oh, that’s the state we fly over). Our students have always had exception geographical skills. The new standards have a two-year implementation process (to possibly create new classes to cover Native American History, elective). This is wrong. Two years with no Native American education is not acceptable.

Lastly, has the Board considered the expense of these standards? I challenge you to find textbooks (not written by Hillsdale College or anyone connected to them) for each grade that will cover the scope and sequence proposed by the Hillsdale Standards.

I would urge the South Dakota Board of Education Standards go back and exam the proposed Standards of 2021. These standards were apolitical, with no Critical Race Theory or Action Politics, just clear, concise, and much more user friendly for teachers and students. The 2021 Standards will not require two years to implement or the massive expenses of finding adequate text and supplemental material. 2021 standards also contain specific standards for Native American education (which we were asked specifically to create by the Secretary of Education).

Do what is best for the children of South Dakota and do not worry about the nation. Each state should create their own standards and not have standards from someone who have probably never been to South Dakota.

One last note that I just received. The American Historical Association has sent a letter rejecting the standards because of how they were done and recommend that 2021 proposed Standards be reconsidered. To Quote, “This executive order and the summary rejection of the 2021 standards draft created a climate of intimidation in which professional historians and educators in South Dakota can have no confidence that the proposed social studies standards draft reflects good disciplinary practices, much less high standards of historical scholarship.”

P.A. Harens [second comment]: The Standards Document:

Pages 2 to 5 General Questions:

  1. Who wrote the standards that were presented to the Committee to put into the form that is being evaluated by the public?
  2. I believe what the content in this document represents what is known as “Classical Educational Ideals.” These ideals are used in private, charter, and public charter schools. In each school, they have a select audience that is allowed into the school. They exclude various types of students that are not allowed into the private, charter, or public charter schools. This is not true in South Dakota Public Schools. Our schools allow any student to attend and to learn. We must adapt to all of the students not the ideal few.

INTRO – first impressions?

  1. No critical thinking skills explanation in the introduction
  2. Is the Dept. of Ed mandating religion: We believe parents desire that their children learn to be wise and virtuous. This is a form of indoctrination/religion. Virtues should be taught in the home.
  3. Why no inquiry standards?
  4. Aren’t the standards supposed to be for SD children and not the nation? Why is this committee writing standards for the Nation? Wasn’t the committee to write standards for the students of South Dakota? Are these for Hillsdale College to promote their 1776 project? I believe that reading the introduction and the Dear Teacher sections one can discover that other than the Native American Standards, they were not written specifically for South Dakota students. They were written for a National [Audience], not South Dakota.

These standards are more of lesson plans than standards. Look to the specifics that being forced upon students and teachers. What or who determined “Guiding Principles for High Quality Standards.?”

  1. Specific curriculum decisions should be made at the local level by the school board or individual school. Is this even possible with the way these standards that are written in this document? Content is being dictated in what is being presented (and how presented) in this document.
  2. The standards merely serve as guidelines based on the minimum requirements for what should be taught in social studies classrooms. Are the presented standards guidelines or specific content that will be taught? Also, by looking at what is presented it is more maximum than minimum. Look at everything that is included.
  3. A chronological movement through history results in standards that make it easier for teachers to organize their lessons, give students a strong sense of how, when, and why things happened in history, and resist the temptation to cherry-pick facts to fit a preconceived ideology or narrative. Aren’t many of the specific items listed in the presented standards cherry-picked facts to fit the committee’s ideology or narrative? By going chronological, aren’t presenting concepts that some of the elementary students not ready for? Chronological vs topical is the main question. In reality, a teacher should use both.
  4. Each standard should be written with clear, direct language that leaves little doubt about what is being asked of the teacher and student. This involves indicating actual topics and details about those topics to help instructors teach them successfully. By writing the standards this way (again) aren’t the writers of the standards, creating information that must be followed, dictating content. Plus, the wording of what is presented is very simplistic and needs to have a higher level of vocabulary to allow higher level of thinking.
  5. This clarity in the format and description of state standards gives teachers the confidence to know when they have met a standard in their instruction while affording teachers flexibility. If you look at the standards, they are content specific and requires no original thinking or critical thinking. Plus, they are more like lesson plans than standards.
  6. Social studies standards should spiral between grade levels, with students building on prior knowledge and deepening their understanding with each study of a given topic What happens when there is too much content to allow student understanding or not grade appropriate? How much time are you allowing for the various units you present in this document?
  7. Social studies skills, history, geography, civics, and economics should be included at every grade level and should also build upon skills and knowledge learned in previous grades By including every single topic of Social Studies for every grade level, is this even possible to be done, especially in the elementary level? Are there textbooks available that are structured this way?
  8. “Inquiry-based learning is a pedagogical approach that lies outside the scope of a standard. The role of a standard is to outline ends while inquiry- based learning is one of several pedagogical means to South Dakota Social Studies Standards achieving those ends.” Inquiry-based learning can bring together a diverse array of educators to showcase lessons, activities, and instructional strategies that advance inquiry-oriented global learning. Directly aligned to the College, Career, and Civic Life (C3) Framework for Social Studies State Standard, this work highlights ways in which global learning can seamlessly be interwoven into the disciplines of history, economics, geography, civics, psychology, sociology, and anthropology. 1st Edition Inquiry-Based PagGlobal Learning in the K–12 Social Studies Classroom Edited By Brad M. Maguth Gloria Wu Copyright Year 2020 This is why inquiry based learning is important to education. You should not eliminate [it] as a working learning process from a teacher. Consider the student, a teacher should use every available method for the learning of the student.
  9. More properly, social studies standards should form the whole student, with a special care for forming wise and responsible citizens. Are we concerned with adults or students? The basic concept of social is “concerned with the study of social relationships and the functioning of society and usually made up of courses in history, government, economics, civics, sociology, geography, and anthropology” Webster’s. Many of the concepts are beyond some of the grade levels that the committee has assigned them to. Was there any discussion on grade level appositeness
  10. “Debating current political positions or partaking in political activism at the bequest of a school or teacher does not belong in a K-12 social studies class, and the color of one’s skin does not determine what one can or should learn.” Discussion:
    1. Debate creates higher thinking skills, research skills, and oral presentation skills. Debate is a life-long learning that benefits everyone.
    2. I do not know of a teacher/school that promotes political activism. However, if this is what you want then no elected official should be allowed into any public school because allowing them into a classroom could be an example of political activism.
    3. The second part of the sentence does not fit at all. What does the color of one’s skin Have to do with debate? Nothing.

Page 6 Notable adjustments Enhanced Content: The content is exactly that, this is requiring specific items to be taught and how it would be taught (i.e., memorization, oral presentation, rote learning, etc…).

Expanded South Dakota and Native American History and Civics: This explains the confusion that is in this document. It jumps around too much and is confusing. As a teacher, it would be hard to follow and use. An ideal standard is one that is a general concept that the teacher knows has to be achieved and the teacher comes up with the content and way to achieve it. This document doesn’t do that. It is a document of indoctrination, rote learning, no understanding but memorization, and mandated content.

Integrated Civics: Definition of civics: a social science dealing with the rights and duties of citizens Definition of history: a chronological record of significant events (such as those affecting a nation or institution) often including an explanation of their causes—The two do not fit together, however, civics integrations could be a form of political activism. The elimination of geography classes and South Dakota History class is not what should be done. Plus, waiting two years for implementation leaves Native American History absent for another two years in the educational system. I will have more information in the other sections at a later date. I just want to make sure this is in the record.

Elizabeth Qualseth: Overall these standards at the elementary level are not age appropriate. First and second graders that are just learning to read are not ready to learn about wars and the nuances of different religions and Ancient cultures. There is a lack of critical thinking skills and an emphasis on rote memorization throughout all elementary levels. While I believe that it is important to study historical documents, I don’t see that there is any benefit to memorizing those documents (5.SS.1.E, 1.SS.1.N are some examples). It is going to be difficult to find a curriculum with this content at a reading level that is appropriate for the younger grades. The lack of educator input on these standards is very apparent.

Andrew Olson: I believe age appropriateness vastly misses the mark across many subjects and grade levels. The mention of Christianity over three-dozen times seems problematic, especially when compared to Judaism (ZERO), and the Holocaust being mentioned only twice.

I believe the memorization required in younger age groups will discourage the growth of critical thinking skills in our children. This will kill interest and creativity in our students.

The fact that William Morrisey was brought in to write these standards is an absolute slap in the face to educators state-wide. Hillsdale’s history of anti-teacher rhetoric is disgusting, and a polarizing, far leaning group has no place in writing standards for our students.

Stephanie Van De Walle: I am NOT in favor of the standards. The standards proposed are not age appropriate. As an educator, I fear that these standards will set students up for failure and not give our students a chance to love social studies and our history. With these standards, students will be bogged down in memorizing facts verses having a deep understanding and love for our history. In my opinion, social studies standards should allow students to learn about our history while also learn about our present. They should encourage students to become well rounded citizens who contribute to the good of society. The standards proposed are not age appropriate, unattainable, and are not going to create successful students nor people. It would be an absolute disservice and shame if these standards were to pass.

Rebecca Harvey: I am angered. Angered at how these standards were developed. Angered at how far backwards this takes our education system. Angered at the stress and anxiety this will place on children who are going through their first years of education in a society where teen suicide is at an all-time high and depression is being diagnosed earlier and earlier. Angered at the unrealistic expectations of these standards, particularly on the younger students. We should be emphasizing PLAY and social learning in kindergarten and first grade and here we are expecting them to create stories about WARS at the age of 7. What is the actual thought process on this?! I am ANGRY that thousands of dollars were spent creating completely inappropriate and asinine standards as we continue to struggle with teacher salaries and funding as a whole. This is a disaster. I fear for the future of my daughters’ educations in South Dakota public schools.

Rebecca A Harvey CCC-SLP [same person as above, I think—second comment]: I’m writing you tonight to voice significant concern regarding the new social studies standards. As a speech language pathologist, I have a deeper understanding of comprehension and vocabulary. I ensure you, the standards as they are proposed, specifically for early elementary students, have unrealistic expectations for their language abilities at that time. Children are learning core academic vocabulary and vocabulary strategies in early grade school that set them up for future success and learning. We should not include unrealistic expectations for their develop. I consistently see this trend of pushing skills appropriate for a certain on younger and younger students. We are doing a disservice to these children by expecting them to learn and perform standards that are beyond their current developmental abilities. This does not create “smarter” children rather creates bigger gaps in performance and stress on teachers, students, and families. Thank you for your time and consideration with my comments. Submitted via email 8/16/22

Susan Johnston (retired): Dear Board of Education Standards. I am a retired HS Librarian from Aberdeen and my grandchildren attend the Aberdeen School District. As librarian I worked with curriculum throughout the district and also worked closely with teachers providing supplemental material for curriculum delivery. Over the years, I worked with educators who had served on state curriculum committees and always had the highest regard for them and their efforts. Therefore, I was appalled at the state’s rejection of the original Social Studies curriculum committee’s efforts in drafting those standards. I also was stunned when the governor appointed a new committee, ultimately paying someone from out of state to draft the standards. My grandchildren will be directly impacted by the decisions you make. I urge you not to approve the Social Studies Standards. Thank you for your time and consideration. Do the right thing.

Jo Robinson (former): “There are many ways of studying and teaching history. Many people remember high school classes full of memorization—names, dates, and places of major historical events.

Decades ago, that kind of rote learning was important, but things have changed. Today, 60% of the world’s population and 90% of the U.S. population use the internet and can find those facts on demand. Today, learning history is about making connections and understanding not just what happened, but WHY.”1

We can’t just learn the “good” things in history and fail to teach things that might make a student feel uncomfortable. That would be a huge disservice to our children. That’s not how the world works.

I also have a huge concern about the lack of teachers on the committee. WHY wouldn’t you use the EXPERTS? Again, this is a huge disservice to our children and a slap in the face to ALL SD educators, both past and present.


Steve Hilton: As a whole these standards make no sense and are not realistic. They do not present a logical level of measure across the age groups.

Patrick Cass: I am a former member of the Social Studies Content Standards revision committee. The standards I worked on were adopted in August of 2015. I am disappointed that the teachers that were brought together to revise these standards in 2021 had their work thrown out the window. The process in place to revise standards was tried and true but for some reason it was completely overruled this time. Very few teachers were involved in the creation of these new standards and they do not use research-based methods to best educate our students. If they are adopted it is a giant step backwards for our students and the process used to revise standards.

Carey Mitzel: General comments regarding proposed standards.

  1. Existing standards (2015 SS standards) allow for integration into other subjects such as ELA. These standards are very specific and would need to be addressed mostly in a stand-alone Soc. Studies class.
  2. Skills addressed with the standards are not developmentally appropriate.
    1.SS.1.O Reciting the Preamble is not something most students will be able to do and for those that do memorization of a paragraph and reciting will not be retained or understood.
  3. There are many additional standards that are being addressed. Elementary teachers are concentrating on Math/ELA with other subjects receiving less time. To cover the proposed standards would take a considerable amount of time that is not available in the school day.
  4. Standards are much too specific and again not appropriate for age/grade. 2.SS.4 Demonstrating Knowledge of Late Middle Ages and Renaissance. There are too many too list but this is one example.
  5. Textbooks are not in line with the standards as they are written.
  6. The World History component should be condensed or eliminated. Focus should be on American history and geography, South Dakota history and geography along with a focus on civic and community education regarding local, state and national political structures and branches.

There are so many standards not appropriate that it is hard to pick out a few.

Gretchen Christenson: In general, these standards are not age appropriate in content or vocabulary (triumvirates and Punic War in 1st grade!?! Mythology in 3rd grade?) and were not created by SD teachers who would understand prior knowledge and abilities. The emphasis on “morally right” borders on mixing church and state.

Ellie Falcon: They can be improved to be more age appropriate.

Erin Riedel: I have been an elementary teacher for 18 years. Based on my experience working with students in grades K-5, these standards are not at all developmentally appropriate for what children at the various grade levels are ready to learn. I urge you to include some actual K-12 educators in this process so that we can adequately and appropriately provide quality social studies education to the children in our state. Thank you.

Rebecca Aker: As a special education teacher in a K-5 setting, it is my opinion that these standards are not remotely developmentally appropriate. The concepts presented in these standards are written at too difficult a level to allow for mastery of the content. The concept of time is hard for young children to wrap their heads around and these standards are asking them to think about periods of history that are very obscure and difficult for them to connect to. Years of educational research has shown that children this age are very egocentric, focused primarily on themselves and their own experience. While we work on subjects like empathy and considering someone else’s point of view, to try to wrap their minds around things like ancient wars and civilizations will be difficult, if not impossible. In addition, certain content presents moral and ethical content that is not appropriate for young children. Teaching six and seven- year-olds in 1st grade about Greek mythology involves discussions about morality and sexuality that parents and teachers will most certainly object to. Numerous standards also call for memorization of long pieces of text, involving complicated old-world language. As a special education teacher I can assure you that this will be difficult, or quite frankly next to impossible, for a large number of children. In the field of education, rote memorization is an ancient technique that best practice does not recommend. In reality, most elementary teachers have enough time in their schedules to teach Social Studies approximately sixty minutes a week. The sheer number of standards presented makes it impossible. As written, the only thing an elementary teacher will have time to teach is Social Studies, which is not reality or where our focus should be. Finally, no materials exist to teach this content. Teachers are great at finding and creating lessons to present to their students. However, to create materials for the hundreds of standards listed is going to be incredibly time consuming. Asking some of the lowest paid teachers in the nation to do this additional work without any compensation is yet another injustice. The old Social Studies standards are in need of improvement, but these new standards are not the answer. Adopting these standards would be a step backwards for the students and teachers in South Dakota.

Shelly Pieper: Totally developmentally inappropriate for young children!!

Shannon Knopf: Not developmentally appropriate. Impossible to cover in a school year

Kathie Tuntland (retired): Dear Secretary Sanderson, The introduction to the recently proposed Social Studies standards document states that children deserve “history and civics instruction free from political agendas and activism.” Unfortunately, this entire process and the proposed standards have done the exact opposite. Last summer, your group of 45 current and former educators, social studies professionals, and members of Indigenous populations came together to review and revise the social studies standards as planned. When the proposed standards were stripped of diversity before being published for the public comment, the state Board of Education President, an experienced educator and a former GOP legislator, stressed that the standard revision process was an educational process and should not be political. Before new task force started, the governor replaced the experienced BOE President with an individual who has no teaching experience and knows nothing about the process of reviewing educational standards. As you know, when the new task force was created our governor chose her own staff members with an out-of-state facilitator, a recent Hillsdale college professor to lead the task force. The rest of the 15-member task force was handpicked and included Christian school leaders in South Dakota, Hillsdale College alum with no background in child development, other individuals from out of state and a few local SD citizens. After reviewing the standards proposed by this group, it is very apparent most of the task force members lack any background in the foundations of education and child development. The standards lack balance and sequence or any understanding of how children learn at different ages/ grade levels. For years, the standard revision process has been built upon the standards that were in place before – standards written by educators who work here in the state of South Dakota. I truly can’t believe our K-12 schools and parents in South Dakota would want what this group developed. We have many capable, creative and knowledgeable teachers in South Dakota who do what is best for our children every day. Let them follow the 2015 standards and then work on revisions and updates through the next school year during a later revision cycle. Our teachers know their students and foundations of education. Using this task force to write SD standards is a slap in the face to all SD Educators. Social studies should be an enjoyable content area to teach. It can be integrated with other subject areas and is a great way to involve students in historical research and critical thinking. However, the new standards do not encourage inquiry-based learning, critical thinking or other higher level thinking skills that our students will need to succeed in their life after graduation. Instead, the proposed standards are essentially a timeline to follow ancient civilizations to the present day. More facts do NOT mean better standards. Simply listing additional historical facts is NOT good teaching and will NOT improve the standards process. You are the head of the Department of Education. I am submitting this letter to you with a sincere plea that you NOT put your stamp of approval on this travesty. Show us you have integrity and believe in the wisdom and teaching skills of our SD teachers. Please encourage state leaders and the Board of Education to leave the 2015 standards in place and let SD professionals finish updating and revising Social Studies to include the information provided by our own Native Nations- NOT from the Governors Political allies. Thank you for reading this. We will be watching to hear your opinion and comments to BOE.

Kathie Tuntland [second comment]: After looking at the new proposed social studies standards I am appalled. It is very apparent there is no one on that task for that has any background in child development or foundations of education. They are almost totally off balance and should not be adopted by any K-12 school system. I could go down the ten guidelines for teaching methods and give you reasons why they are also inappropriate. The K-2 standards are way too much. Please take time to look at them.

If what you really want is Christian Nationalism this may be the document for you. However, it is still very inappropriate for early elementary students in any setting. If you want 4th-5th grade students studying religion this might be for you. I am not going to refer to every thing, but SD K-12 system should Not be adopting this!

I truly can’t believe K-12 schools and parents in South Dakota want this kind political agenda. Please keep the 2015 standards as they are for the future. Our teachers can follow those guidelines and add more updated information as they go. They are very capable and knowledgeable. Do NOT allow these to go through.

SD school teachers do Not teach Critical Race Theory. However, to our credit we Do teach Critical Thinking Skills! And, Yes! – it Is higher level than rote memorization. We do NOT use racist or sexist language. However, we do teach all content area – history, geography, and social studies included- with truth – using research and inquiry-based projects. That should [be] continued – not be squelched by politicians!

Ruth Grinager (retired): My overall feeling is disappointment. Our SD students and teachers deserve better than these standards, and we are fully capable of delivering better standards. Grade K-5 standards are unrealistic for primary and intermediate leveled students, both in content and expectations. Some Grade 6 standards sound like Christian indoctrination and feel as if they cross the time-honored line providing for separation of church and state. Standards for grades 7-12 should be requiring students to use higher level thinking skills. Their breadth is overwhelming while their depth is underwhelming. Our students deserve better, and we can deliver better than this. We are cheating our students, SD citizens, and the future of the State of SD if these are adopted.

Kim Olson: I’ve thoroughly read the entire proposed standards twice, each time telling myself to keep an open mind and concentrate on looking for the good. Each time, however, I came away thinking surely this must be a joke. It is glaringly obvious this committee lacks enough qualified and experienced personnel from K-12 education that actually understand how today’s students LEARN best and the amount of curriculum that can possibly fit into one school year…not to mention how utterly off-base the age-appropriateness is. (1st graders memorizing the Preamble followed by students from each grade level memorizing this or that? 7th graders being able to identify states by their shapes? Why? So they can complete a 50-states jigsaw puzzle? Memorization is not learning.) Once again, it is obvious our state is being run by those who choose to expend precious energy inventing problems where they do not exist as opposed to working to improve and expand upon the solid foundation already in place. The previous Social Studies Standards committee did outstanding, heartfelt, and LOGICAL work with the end goal of creating an enhanced learning experience for our students. Please chalk this up to a well-intentioned ‘miss’ and take us back to the previous committee’s recommendations. Since our state apparently lacks highly qualified education professionals, we’ll only be out a little over $200,000 in out-of-state “advising fees,” right?

Mary Ann McAfee (retired): It’s obvious that most of the elementary standards have been written by people who have NO classroom experience. I strongly believe a committee of teachers should be writing these standards. Perhaps it’s time to revisit the original proposal written by the first committee of educators.

Amy Long: Higher order thinking skills are rarely addressed by these standards. Students need to be able to apply and evaluate information about historical events. Rote memorization is not necessary in this information age. Students should be taught how to find accurate and reliable information.

Michael Beardt: I feel overall that the proposed Social Studies standards are seeking change for political purposes rather than educational ones. We need to be certain that our students are learning history that promotes looking at the past through many perspectives in order to learn from it and grow a better future.

Tammie A Foley: he Governor of South Dakota is working hard to whitewash our history. The very fabric of America is [divisive] – we literally declared independence from our mother country.


The standards also list “State and Native American History” – this isn’t a class, the phrase “Native American” isn’t listed a single time on the graduation requirements – this is pandering at [its] finest.

Lauren Jahn: Social Studies standards are named to tag learning with experiences of societies and cultures. Politicizing and reducing curriculum or content access based on far-right agendas of Governor Noem or the South Dakota Department of Education is a disservice to our students. If we would like our South Dakotan youth to become lifelong learners and continue to enrich our state with knowledge and commerce, we must educate them to exist and interact with different worldviews. Censorship and a removal of content with underlying objectives gives a connotative message to educators and students that they are not valued or competent. Represent our minorities and show them they matter in policymaking.

Kelly Remily: I have a GREAT concern that we are completely leaving developmental stages out of consideration for these new standards. Even though students continue to be exposed and expected to understand/remember/respond to concepts and ideas that are FAR beyond what their brain and body is able to comprehend and discern, designers of curriculum continue to thrust information and expectations into curriculum that just make NO SENSE. Science is REAL. Listen to it. Follow it. Set appropriate expectations.

Jessica Torbert: I believe that the proposed social studies standards at the elementary level are not developmentally appropriate on the whole. Students at the is age should be learning about their communities, their state, the region they live in, our country, and then our country’s history. I also believe that there are far too many standards to accomplish in a school year.

Dorothy Story: I am not afraid to admit that I cried when I read South Dakota Proposed Standards today. I am a proud South Dakota Citizen, a teacher, and a mother. I am proud of my community, my county and my state. Our history is a complicated and interesting one, one that is not without conflict but also one that is not without beauty. These new standards completely disregard that history.

The new standards no longer teach about our communities and disregard our state history until high school. Instead, they propose that we begin teaching our first graders about world history and American history before they even know what their place in the world is. Our first graders are just learning to read and do addition and yet they are asked to memorize the Preamble to the Constitution?! This is absolutely NOT developmentally appropriate.

Upon looking at the scope of the standards proposed at all grade levels, not only are they not developmentally inappropriate, but they are unrealistic to try to cover in the small amount of time that is allocated to Social Studies classes. In many South Dakota elementary classrooms, Social Studies is limited to 30-45 minutes a few times a week. The standards that are proposed would take so much more than that, and to be quite honest, probably could not be covered if you spent the entire academic time working on them.

The introduction to the standards states that “history and civics instruction free from political agendas and activism,” and yet, implies that American History starts in 1492, which is the first time period covered in American History according to the standards. This is clearly a political choice with underlying roots in racism. It implies that there was no history before 1492, that the Native Americans that came before white colonialism are not important to who we are as a country. There are also very few connections to the Native Americans that live in our own state and make our state so great.

As an educated individual, I would also like to note that I am incredibly disappointed to see that there are no works cited nor any evidence at all that this is based on research. Upon looking into the panel that helped to write these standards, it is also clear that none of these individuals have spent anytime recently in a K-12 classroom, if at all. Some of the individuals are not even from our state, including the facilitator of the project. This would explain why the standards are not developmentally appropriate, nor a reflection of our great state.

As a taxpayer, it infuriates me that a group of educators were already paid to write these standards, and then their work was altered for political purposes and then not passed, and now we are paying for yet another group, the facilitator who is not even from our state, are again wasting valuable tax money to produce another piece of politically laced propaganda.

Finally, teaching these standards is not even remotely realistic. There is no curriculum or training that would support teaching these standards. Who would fund the creation of textbooks, teacher training and resources that would aid teachers in teaching content that has never before been taught at this grade level? Are we ready to sink even more taxpayer money into something that may be rewritten in a few years when it is proven to be unrealistic? Or worse, are we going to leave teachers with no resources to try to teach content that is so beyond the scope and sequence of what their students have ever done in the past? These standards are setting our students and our teachers up for failure. They are not developmentally appropriate in my opinion, and there is no research or evidence to suggest that these are even achievable at this level. I am out raged that our Governor threw our precious tax dollars that could have been used to enhance our current understanding of our state, country and international history in the classroom and funneled them into the pockets of an out of state party that shared her same political agenda.

I would encourage us to look again at the original standards that were proposed last year by educators and professionals in the field, the version before the late-night alteration that included Native American standards, and consider that before pouring money into someone else’s pockets.

Nancy Block: Many standards are not age appropriate.

Carol Christianson (retired): Your form letter did little to reassure me of the qualifications of the individuals serving in the social studies standards committee. Now, as the proposed standards are revealed, I am stunned to see the latest version. These standards do not address the cognitive development of students in the various age groups, and present outlandish vocabulary requirements and conceptual understandings for early elementary students.

Can you identify major public buildings in Washington, DC and their architectural styles?

The scope of the requirements appears to ignore the fact that teachers have numerous subjects beyond social studies, that demand classroom attention and instruction.

How did the fall of Rome become a second-grade standard?

Why is Chronological Order such a fascination of this committee?

I am appalled at the ridiculous nature and structure of these standards. It almost appears that they were designed to draw additional ridicule to the manner in which this state operates. Congratulations on creating a monster! South Dakota has once again proven that it doesn’t acknowledge educational expertise or research-based instructional scope and sequence.

Please allow professional educators to develop sound standards that suit the abilities of our students and address the concepts of social understandings at appropriate age levels.

Dani Ruhd: These standards are far too complex for students at the elementary level. I would like to focus on the rigor of these standards and ask when teachers are going to have this amount of time to teach this number of standards. Are specials supposed to be cancelled so teachers can have the time to teacher 6 year olds about maps? It doesn’t matter how much training the teachers have or how many professional developments are offered, if the kids are not developmentally ready to hold a pencil and form letters then they won’t be able to comprehend maps or identify the 30+ American symbols you have listed. Please consider taking the feedback of what your elementary SD teachers are telling you.

Van Eaton: These are the most terribly written and proposed standards that I have ever seen in my 20 years of teaching. Clearly children and their learning were not taken into account when these were put together. These standards will create a serious negative impact, these standards will never be taught/learned because the learners will NEVER be able to complete them as they’re brains and ability to, are not ready for them. Social Studies instruction and children’s understanding will take a serious backslide. I am so [disappointed] of our state and Department of Education for even suggesting that this is what we should teach our children. We spend years of schooling learning how to most effectively teach children and then to have our DoE suggest something so unaligned with children and their learning, it is extremely [disappointing]. These should absolutely be thrown out and then have students actually taken into account with the next try. I am completely disgusted by this.

Lynn Klaas (retired): I will submit another feedback for the rest of the 9-12 standards once I have time to review them all. To be quite honest, these standards are far from objective and need to be revamped. I suggest you continue with the current standards already in place until actual educators can be consulted. It is obvious to me, a former social studies teacher, that these standards were not created by teachers but by politicians, and I fear for the students of our state and what harm will be implemented to them IF these standards are ever approved and implemented. The teacher shortage in our state will continue to get worse if this is how educators are treated. The teachers today teach because they love their students and care about their education. We want to prepare them for life, not make them think as we do. These standards are not a representation of what social studies teachers believe should be taught in the classroom. The waste of time and taxpayer dollars on the revamping of the standards, already once created by actual teachers is appalling. Please feel free to contact me. I have so much more to say. Thank you for allowing public input. I look forward to attending the public hearings.

Taylor Henwood: These proposed standards are trying to cover too much information without establishing the base for advanced topics in all aspects of social studies.

The foundation of social studies should be the focus for elementary grades. Map skills, identification of continents. These standards promote more memorization than applicable skills. No time in my teaching career have I ever been asked to recite the Gettysburg Address. The why and the how are the important parts, not the memorization.

Karen A Schlekeway: In a short review of the proposed standards I could not help but be dismayed!

I probably will not have a lot of specifics instructions/ideas to improve them as I truly feel scraping these and going back to the drawing board would be the best option after my time-limited review.

First, all the standards are just not aligned with the development of the brain for kids at the specified ages. For example, the vocabulary of the Preamble is not developmentally appropriate to be learned as a first grader let alone memorized. And how does rote memorization of this benefit the lives of our students?

I also think we would be doing a GREAT injustice to our students if we did not offer our South Dakota students the opportunity to learn the rich and amazing local history of South Dakota. When I taught SD history in 6th grade, my students LOVED to learn about the robust history of Belle Fourche, and that is only our little community in this GREAT state; so much more to offer.

I also failed to notice where and when the time period of the American Civil War will be taught. This is a part of our country’s history and needs to be taught. It was a time in our history where although divided to the point of war, it teaches us that we can come back together and rise above the ashes to become a more unified and better nation.

The standards disappoint me as it will greatly add to the already challenging workload of our elementary teachers who currently have more than enough to teach.

I hope this makes a little sense and as stated earlier with everything going on in the first week of school, I cannot think of more appropriate suggestions other than going back and trying one more time.

Third time is the charm! Karen the Librarian

Lisa Haugland (retired): These standards are ludicrous, absurd, ridiculous, outrageous and totally inappropriate for the ages to which they are assigned. And did we seriously pay $200k for an out of state facilitator to spearhead this?? Whatever happened to SD YOU k-12 educators sitting on curriculum revision teams???

Jenny Hawk-Heirigs (retired): I am a recently retired educator who counseled in the SD public schools for 33 years. I deeply care children/youth and their education. They are the future! The currently proposed standards that are in line with the governor’s agenda are OUTRAGEOUS! We need to go back to what the committee, made up of actual EDUCATORS, proposed. It was created in good conscious for the good of teaching actual history to our children. I have read excerpts of the 2021 committee’s well-thought proposal, and I’ve read current comments from said committee member about the changes that were made without committee permission; and I have read the current proposal. It is very obvious that the governor is pushing her own agenda, which is a carbon copy of far-right political agenda formula. Even though the education standard issue is yet another one of the governor’s attempts to gain recognition with the nation’s Republicans (she’ll no doubt taut this on Fox News and possibly in an upcoming political ad). But, let’s put that aside and discuss what is best for children/youth and their education. The current proposition is not developmentally appropriate or realistic. We need to teach age-appropriate actual history and facts! We cannot pick and choose history! We can’t “put our own spin on it” in education. What has happened, has happened. We must not sweep it under the rug. We need to be open and honest with children (in a developmentally appropriate manner). We learn from history; we do better in the future when we learn from the past.

Janet Morrow: I am a fourth-grade teacher in Yankton. I teach South Dakota history using The Weekly South Dakotan, Dakota Path Ways, and Tour SD. These were designed specifically for fourth grade and are age appropriate. I also teach the three branches of government, the Bill of Rights, the Amendments, and map skills to meet all of our present standards. I am proud of the work that I do and the accomplishments of my students. They leave my class with great foundational skills and are ready to tackle more complicated material when they leave my class.

The new standards for 4th grade include teaching World history 60 B.C.E., which includes: the Roman Empire, the Middle Ages, ancient civilizations in Asia, Africa, Greece, China, etc. All of these materials are supposed to build on the materials that were covered in earlier grades. Why would you expect first graders to learn about Ancient India, Babylon, and the Persian Wars? Please carefully read the proposal and think are these realistic standards for our elementary children.

Another red flag I noted is under the standard 4.SS.3 section C: The students are supposed to “explain the major historical ideas and events surrounding the life of Jesus of Nazareth and their historical effects. Section D: The students need to “explain the major historical events, cultural features, stories, and religious contributions of the early Christians.” What happened to the separation of Church and State?

The proposed standards are not age-appropriate for elementary students. I hope that you have hear from educators from the middle and high schools regarding their standards. I know that after teaching third and fourth grades for last 34 years that these are not realistic standards and that they will not be successfully implemented. How many six-year-olds will understand and retain major figures and stories from Greek mythology?

Please do not allow these standards to go into effect.

Janet Morrow [second comment]: I have taught 3rd and 4th graders for the last 34 years. I can tell you what works and what students are developmentally ready to handle. These standards are not realistic for elementary children. You will need to check with middle school and high school educators to determine how they feel about their standards.

  • Time and time again your proposed standards state “Building upon skills learned in previous grades” Well if students cannot understand the prior concepts because they were not developmentally ready for them, or the teachers could not get through the magnitude of materials the whole purpose has been compromised.
  • Where are teachers and schools supposed to get curriculum that cover all of these standards.
  • What happened to separation of church and state?
  • Maybe I missed it, but where is South Dakota History?

While there are things that are good in the proposed standards they need to be adjusted. Most of proposed standards needs to be moved up by two to three grades.

You need to include early childhood educators and current elementary teachers for realistic goals. If you can’t do that then your team needs to spend time in elementary classrooms to see what works and what is appropriate.

Martha Nystrom (retired): I was a teacher on the SD Social Studies Standards committee before these were created. Please do not implement these standards as they stand today. I do not agree with these standards whatsoever. There needs to be a complete revision with trained educators on the committee. We have to recognize the stress levels that these typical students will be under when faced with these unattainable goals. Let’s not set our students up for failure.

Jeremy Robert Risty: As I examine these standards in totality, they are absolutely NOT age appropriate nor based on sound educational/psychological principles. I truly fear what would happen to South Dakota’s public education if these standards should pass. Again, they are not realistic and sound by nearly any measure.

Kim Clark: Guiding Principles review

  1. Standards must not indicate a specific textbook or curriculum
  • Where did these standards come from? What research and references were used to write these standards?
  • These standards as written feel like they came from an established curriculum or textbook.
  1. Standards should not be exhaustive…..
  • When we have tripled or quadrupled the standards they are very exhaustive.
  • When we ask students to learn concepts that are not age appropriate they are exhaustive
  • When we do not have themes or anchor standard K-12 they are exhaustive.
  • When we tell students exactly what to do they are exhaustive
  1. Social studies standards should follow the natural order of historical events, moving chronologically as the events actually unfolded. Themes emerge …. A chronological movement through history ….
    • Currently World History is in middle and high school. Explain why it is in K-5.
    • The proposed standards do not have themes that are K-12, rather time periods in History.
    • World History is not chronological in K-5
  2. Each standard should be written with clear, direct language that leaves little doubt about what is being asked of the teacher and student.
    • The standards as written are at a low cognitive level, a regurgitation of facts to be learned and memorized.
  3. Students should be asked to demonstrate their knowledge in ways that reflect ordinary means of communication, such as: name, explain, tell of, describe, tell the story of, list, locate, tell the biography of, read, write, etc
    • Is the committee familiar with the Webbs Depth of Knowledge levels?
    • By giving no idea of understanding needed you have made them harder not easier to teach. Not clear or concise.
  4. Social studies standards should spiral between grade levels, with students building on prior knowledge and deepening their understanding with each study of a given topic.
    • Standards that spiral have foundational understanding with increasing complexity
    • Standards that spiral have themes or anchor standards K-12
    • These standards skip grades, are age inappropriate in K-5, have an amount of standards that can only be taught superficially in order to get through all the material and are sets of facts in a given time period.
    • The study of South Dakota History and Oceti Sakowin History does not spiral.
  5. Social studies skills, history, geography, civics, and economics should be included at every grade level and should also build upon skills and knowledge learned in previous grades.
    • Sadly, they are all over the place, mixed in, hard to follow. Increase in complexity? Hard to tell because you have the words tells, shows, locates, explains at every grade.
  6. Inquiry-based learning is a pedagogical approach that lies outside the scope of a standard.
    • We want that to take place in the other content areas, but not Social Studies? The committee gets to decide this?
  7. The goal of K-12 social studies is not to create research-based historians, just as math class does not try to create professional mathematicians or science class research scientists.
    • In English Language Arts standards K-5,Writing- students are introduced to research as early as Kindergarten. K-2 students participate in shared research (K.W.7, 1.W.7, 2.W.7), grades 3-5 students Research to Build and Present Knowledge (3.W.7, 4.W.7-10, 5.W.7-10) Students are very capable of research.

Kim Clark [second comment]: General comment as I look at K-5 is that they cognitively and developmentally inappropriate especially at the K-2 level. For example, you are asking a first grader to understand American History and major events over a 300-year period and World History covering each of seven continents over a 1200-year period, plus geography. Envision a 6-7 year comprehending that and learning Reading and Math foundational skills and Science. Read what you wrote out loud and tell me a 1st grader will understand it. Some of it is inappropriate to talk about.

That is just grade 1!

There are too many standards that cannot be covered in the amount of time given to teach Social Studies.

As an educator and as a grandparent I am hugely disappointed. You did not have representation of all the grades or grade bands on your committee. The majority were professors, politicians or businessmen/women. People who have never stepped foot in a classroom yet you deemed them worthy to know what are children need and what is appropriate. Did you not think that educators know and understand their students?

In the past we have had a mix of educators and community members, members from across the state, representation from different sized school districts.

I will be reviewing every grade level in K-5. I will be sharing this document with out of state educators and getting their observations. I will share it far and wide with parents.

Disappointed in the proposed standards on so many levels.

Tova Homan: Garbage. Hire elementary teachers to come up with the standards and vocabulary. These standards read like a high school/college syllabus. It’s not developmentally appropriate, it will take too much time to teach since students have no background knowledge, and it is not assessed on high stakes tests so no one is going to put forth the effort to teach these standards. Not to mention that young kids do not care about things that took place long ago. Try again.

Pam Gillespie (retired): Terrible and what a waste of money. What about all the time educators spent re-writing these standards last year to only have their hard work and collaboration thrown out? I helped on the Technology and math curriculums while teaching from 1998-2017. Never was paid a cent for all my hard work that was actually adopted as curriculum.

Kari Furman: I think the grade levels of some of these standards need to be changed to a higher grade level. As a 5th grade teacher, I am especially concerned about 5.SS.1E, 5.SS.3, & 5.SS 4. These new standards are a lot to teach in a matter of one year. These standards need to be more appropriate for the grade level.

Kathy Cruse (retired): The standards are absolutely inappropriate. Jumping between ancient civilizations and American History would be nothing more than confusing to elementary students. You are setting them up to fail with these standards.

Robert A Sittig: First, the proposed social studies standards involve too much memorization of facts. Why should students memorize facts that are readily accessible on any phone or computer? While some memorization may be necessary, many of the standards include facts that are inappropriate for the indicated grade level. Standards should focus on themes and why events happened rather than recitation of parts of documents, dates, and times. Second, we need to teach students how to think for themselves, and how to take part in discussions on important topics in a rationale and civil manner. The admonition that political discussions have no place in K-12 education is the exact opposite of what should take place in our schools. Our classrooms should be safe places where students can discuss thoughts and ideas, consider other viewpoints with an open mind, and agree to disagree without being disagreeable. Where will the next great leaders and thinkers come from if all students do is recite facts? Third, I agree that political activism should not occur at the behest of educators, but if activism is the byproduct of open discussions, so be it. I fear the current standards will make teachers hesitant to lead discussions on important topics, and the end result will be students who cannot think for themselves or support their own viewpoints. Last, with no disrespect to the standards workgroup, I believe more South Dakota K-12 practicing educators should have been included in the development of the standards.

Desi Kranz: The lack of inclusion of educators in creating these standards

  • The wasted time of the previous standards committee
  • The unrealistic skills and content that are assigned to elementary grade levels
  • The removal of early American history, specifically the indigenous perspective and any history pre-European contact
  • reinstate the existing standards for another cycle and restart the process in 7 years.
  • the elimination of local control by going so far to detail exactly what students need to do will set a precedent for future/other classes.
  • the high cost to purchase new curriculum.

Lyndi Hudson: I am an educator and parent of two children in the K-12 Public Ed. system in SD. I am shocked at the proposed content standards for Social Studies. Not only is the content not developmentally appropriate for the age levels, it seems as if the content is driven by an intent to push political agendas, rather than to provide a deeper understanding of SD history, American history, civics, etc. These standards were obviously not created by teachers that currently teach K-12 in South Dakota.

Jeany Salter (retired): Please reconvene and look at the standards with a panel of teachers. We can do better for our students and our teachers.

Jennifer Miller: These proposed social studies standards are so developmentally inappropriate for the younger grades; it is laughable. There are not enough opportunities for critical thinking; which is so important for our students. These proposed standards focus on so much memorization and tell the students what to think while we want to teach them to learn how to think for themselves. There also seems to be a Christian slant to these standards; which is not appropriate for public schools. These proposed standards are also very far-reaching; I can’t imagine being able to teach all of these in a rigorous way in a year with all the other subjects we need to teach. As a 2nd grade teacher who has also taught 1st, 4th, 7th, and 8th grades; and as a parent of two public school high school students in South Dakota; I wholeheartedly believe that these proposed standards need a complete redo. These standards are not right for South Dakota and will not help our children become the [conscientious], critical thinkers our state needs for our future.

Linda Steele: These standards have been written without any true understanding of the developmental educational needs of students in grades K-12. The level of understanding is written exceedingly high for each grade level. Content can be memorized by students, but if we want students to truly comprehend what it is that we are teaching, we must have an understanding of student learning and what is appropriate for their age level. While many of the concepts are important, specific topics are less important than students understanding the deeper meaning of what it means to be a good community member, citizen and global partner. There seems to be such an emphasis on learning specific details that we have lost sight on the bigger picture of applying what the we want them to understand. There are many, many great resources from which we can use to build better learning than what has been presented to us in these standards. I hope that our state will consider those other resources prior to adopting what has been presented here.

Dale M. Knebel: The best move for the Board of Education in approving standards is to revert to the original set that was compiled by the diverse group in the summer of 2021. When Governor Noem did not like the outcome and moved forward with her own group that provided standards that aligned with her beliefs, the process jumped the tracks. It became a political issue and most of the group that she assembled have no clue about South Dakota education. She continues to push Critical Race Theory because that is what furthers her agenda in promoting herself in her party on the national level. It is not found in South Dakota schools, and I doubt that she even understands it. But that is what she is directed to do; it is part of the script handed her. At this point, the state has spent $427,000 on the issue. It is time that DOE divorce itself from Hillsdale College. I don’t want to see their principles creep into South Dakota education.

Barbra DeVos: I am concerned that 1) 3 of 15 drafters were educators, 2) this group of drafters is headed by someone who gains financially and isn’t even from SD, 3) because educators weren’t largely the creators much of the curriculum does not take into account children‘s developmental abilities and 4) WHAT IS NOT IN THE CURRICULUM . In contrast to what Governor Noem is saying, these standards are biased and appear to purposely leave out truth that can help children learn to make their own decisions. Ex. how white colonization in fact swept from the east to the west, had done so in other areas of the world, pushed indigenous people from their homes, outlawed their way of life, created boarding schools, etc. along with slavery. Is there education that Hawaii actually began as a monarchy until white colonization built sugar cane plantations, etc and the monarchy was overturn. Our children deserve to receive education not based on bias. It is the truth that will help heal our nation. Is there information about red lining , how banking structures were set up disproportionate, etc. ?

Pamela Mettler (retired): In my opinion, many of the standards at the elementary grade levels are age inappropriate and are setting children up to fail. Each standard needs to be revisited and be critiqued by trained education professionals at each grade level who work with children at those grade levels. Our governor wants excellence in education in our state, but these standards will do nothing to help reach that goal. In fact, I believe many of the standards are harmful as currently written and must be revised.

Carolyn Westby: These standards are not appropriate for elementary students and seem very politically motivated. Please do not move forward with these standards!

Julie Prasek: Let SD teachers teach —- government shouldn’t be telling us how. No wonder we have fewer and fewer teachers.

Jayne Leonard: It is clear educators were not included on the writing of these standards. They lack age appropriateness, clarity, logic, and show no understanding of an elementary classroom in which we teach 6 or more subjects a day. These should be piloted by the people who created them. They should have to teach in our schools for at least a year, be held to ALL our district/state standards, and then decide whether these are appropriate.

Bonnie Carr (retired): Horrible please let me know this has been received and read. Thank you

Joan G. Anderson: Why were SD educators not the ones to write the standards for SD? This finished product is terrible.

Jeremy and Lisa Hurd: What has transpired as a result of these standards and their publication has been disheartening, hurtful, and unethical in regards to the process that has traditionally taken place when previous standards were adopted by our state in the field of education. The original Social Studies group members comprised of 41 respected educators from across South Dakota recommended standards for approval was modified without the knowledge of the committee and then eventually a new committee was formed of only 16 individuals, many who have no knowledge of pedagogy at the various levels of learning like the original group did and who have no experience actually teaching the very standards and content that need to be learned.

Once the new standards were released, they not only [drew] immediate criticism from social studies teachers and retired teachers across the state, but [called] to question the committee’s professionalism in adopting what many see as a politically influenced set of standards heavily driven by the $200,000 payment to William Morrisey, who was a former professor of politics at Hillsdale College, a deeply conservative private Christian college in Michigan that has been known throughout the country for its far-right political beliefs. Similar movements are taking place in states like Florida and Tennessee and while the Governor stated clearly in her SD State News article about “Raising the Bar” that “We won’t allow political ideologies to invade our classrooms”, in fact she has done the very thing she claims to be attempting to prevent. South Dakota educators are not fooled by these lies and the truth is already out there. The influence of Hillsdale College on our standards can be found in the article by Cory Heidelberger from the Dakota Free Press as well as other articles from nonpartisan news sources like Bridge Michigan that highlights the political motivations of Larry Arnn that currently views our nation’s schools as “Leftist indoctrination centers”.

Further themes of Hillsdale College ideologies include bans on critical race theory, restrictions around discussions of race or gender identity, and a more western and classic focus on reading material. It is also noted that the private college is “engaging states directly to reshape the curricular standards of the public education in those states”

One does not need to look further than when the Common Core standards were adopted in 2009 and the criticism that followed to see that states have gone back to the idea that the standards that are adopted need to reflect a more “state approved” version and one that takes into account the agreements of our people in the profession. Educators in the classroom are the experts and outside or private influences that have the potential to indoctrinate any of our students regarding one political ideology versus another should be diminished.

Further, the Native American community in our state are diminished in the current standards and we are once again in a position where critics are accusing these standards of “white-washing” history and failing to address the challenges Native Americans have faced since the days of boarding schools and looking at our history as a means of learning how not to repeat the dark days of our past. The Oceti Sakowin standards, highly regarded among many educators in South Dakota, are not adequately embedded and this is problematic in many ways and hurtful to our Native American people. Not to mention there is little exploration of South Dakota history outside of learning the neighboring states, the flag and motto, capitol and Governor, and basic geography.

I cannot foresee how these standards should have a chance of being adopted. They are already tainted politically and have become a magnet for criticism. They have been politically driven by the Governor and their development has lost the respect of the K-12 education community. The public comment of these standards will be overwhelming and if Governor Noem and the committee are unwilling to hear the concerns of our education professionals, we will fail to implement these standards with the fidelity we hope to and we will destroy the very working relationship needed between our state government and education community and we run the risk of demoralizing an already fragile community of educators that are going to work every day during a time that our state is short 300 teachers in our classrooms across the state. This is not in the best interest of the students in the state of South Dakota and I believe it is time we go back to the original standards developed by the original 41 teachers and honor their work.

Tyler Jon Thue: I am curious about the choice in some beginning and end years for the suggested content to be covered; namely the “1492” start date for American History in 1st, 3rd grade, and 7th grades, and the “2008” ‘end’ year at the middle and high school levels. If we are setting these beginning and end periods based on textbook publishers, I am concerned. Textbooks are excellent resources, but they are not sole curricula to be used in implementing standards. I understand that there must be a baseline, and that finding sufficient, credible resources might be difficult for more recent events, but if that’s the case then perhaps the end year should be 2003.

The scope and sequence of the proposed “standards” appears to be far to precise and scripted, leaving little wiggle room to educators that have dedicated themselves to studying the content. These are not standards, but a “suggested” curriculum. At what point does the teacher utilize their competence in determining how the standard is met? When will teachers be teachers? What has been proposed suggests that teachers can’t and the average person can.

I enjoy the idea of integrating each discipline at each level, but they are not developmentally appropriate. That said, the “standards” (curriculum) offers the exercise of perspective in many cases, content wise, but will be defeated by the fact that we are expecting skills of students that do not match their developmental levels. Outside of the proposed curriculum and its developmentally inappropriate nature, there is far too much here to be realistically taught and learned in a given school year.

I’m very wary of the fact that we have paid a consultant $200,000 to lead the proposition of new standards in our state. What about those of us that have dedicated ourselves to the state of South Dakota, attended university here, and are currently employed as certified teachers? Previous committees have held 40+ competent, well-versed, highly-capable, currently licensed SD state teachers with invaluable classroom experience. Where was their offer to continue serving the learners of our state? Finally, what is up with rolling this proposal out at the beginning of another school year? We as educators have a million things to do in general, let alone at the beginning of a school year. I can’t help but feel like we’re being spat on with this timing. For the best interest of our teachers, learners, and citizens, I highly recommend that you heavily consider an overhaul of what has been proposed. For the integrity of education in South Dakota and America, seasoned veteran and contemporary SD teachers must be heavily involved in the revision/reconstruction of state standards.

Kayla Vockrodt: Please get some educators (preferably 100%) to create these standards for our kids. Educators know what they’re doing and what our kids need to and should know.

Brianna Schmidt: The elementary standards are not age appropriate. Schools do not have curriculum to meet these standards and will be incredibly costly to all districts. Most importantly, where has Indigenous people’s history gone? These standards are a giant leap backwards.

Tiffany Runia: Overall these standards are too complex and are not set age appropriately. Why in the world does a 1st grader need to know the preamble, and a 4th grader the first 2 paragraphs, and a 3rd grader about Ancient Rome? These topics are great to be taught- but at age-appropriate times. These are usually MS topics not lower elementary. SD history should stay in elementary and these other topics in MS and HS. I also don’t see the scope and sequence of these standards; they do not follow any common sequence and need to be switched and reconsidered. As an educator there are many expectations of us- and that’s fine, but most make sense. These do not!

Charla O’Dea (retired): As a retired South Dakota teacher for 37 years, and former SD Presidential Awardee in Education, I am vehemently opposed the Board of Education’s proposed Social Studies standards.

These standards were not written by SD educators or even by the current SD committee. Who wrote these so-called Standards?

My concerns start with the complete disregard for the scope and sequence that most schools in the country base their standards around.

There are no standards covering state history. Are these standards, in effect, erasing the teaching of South Dakota History in our K-12 schools? Although I realize that standards are not all-inclusive, these leave very little time for teaching anything else.

The standards for elementary students are laughable and show absolutely no understanding of cognitive development in young children. As just one example, these standards are asking 1st graders to memorize parts of American documents containing vocabulary they will not understand until they are much older. The standards expect 1st graders to have knowledge of events from ancient history that I, and many adult South Dakotans, have rarely heard of, such as the Peloponnesian War and the Conquests of Alexander of Macedon. Who, in their right mind, would expect this of 6 year olds and WHY is this topic even relevant to elementary education?

Please reconsider forcing these ridiculous guidelines on our already overworked (and sadly underpaid) education professionals. Return to the work of the original Standards Committee who are in South Dakota classrooms and know best what our students need to learn!

Charla E O’Dea, Belle Fourche, SD

Charla O’Dea [second comment, repeated text omitted]: …Who actually wrote these beyond ridiculous standards? They can’t possibly have an understanding of cognitive development in young children. How much of our taxpayer monies was, once again, WASTED on another of Governor Noem’s pet projects.

To the entire DOE Committee, SHAME ON YOU for disrespecting our SD educators who have labored for far too long with some of the lowest pay in the nation and now have received one more slap in the face by having their SD Standards Committee’s work tossed aside only to be replaced by this garbage. Submitted via email 8/17/22

Linda Wegleitner: Use the first committee’s standards. 2nd group is a political group not a teacher group. Only 15 people with a mandate to do Noem’s bidding. This should be led by teachers not her staff.

Kim Aman: Absolutely ridiculous, developmentally inappropriate, unteachable at the levels denoted, Amount of time covered in each grade level is unattainable, go back to the start and try again.

Yvonne Huennekens: There is way too much content in the elementary. Why would you have them try to learn world history as well as American history in the same year. Fourth grade does a wonderful job of SD history and then they move on to world history in fifth. I only work with K-5th, but these standards are ridiculous. — Why weren’t elementary and secondary teachers from SD involved in this?

Jennifer L Millard: I feel we are suddenly trying to catch up with education levels in other countries without realizing that steps need to be taken, not a cliff sized jump as this feels to be. I believe these standards are over all too much for elementary and a massive switch from current teaching. I love the inclusion of more Native American history, but I cannot help but feel other topics are being toned down due to conceived issues. I feel there are many details that are no needed. Too much focus is being put on some individuals in many cases while skipping some altogether. Information currently taught in middle school is being shifted down to elementary school. How will this affect those in higher grades who would be expected to have years of knowledge they won’t have? If we do not learn from history, we are doomed to repeat it – to learn from it, it must be taught properly.

Cheryl Tiesz: Not appropriate and more native curriculum needed

Kendra Paulsen: Comparing the previous SS standards to the proposed standards, I believe the new ones are absurdly specific and far above the age level for many of the grades they are placed in (specifically elementary). Reading through them, I am pretty certain I didn’t learn some of the first-grade standards until I was a high school senior! If those are the proposed standards, I definitely think that they need to be reconsidered. I can see where the previous standards could have possibly been lacking in detail, but the proposed standards are incredibly high-level.

The proposed standards seeming to only ever ask a student to “explain” various topics. In college they always drilled it into us that to develop better learners, we need to go beyond recall. If the standards are going to be that specific, they should be using vocab that would better signify what the students will do (ex: compare and contrast, defend, ask “what if”, connect, etc.).

Regarding the statement “Debating current political positions or partaking in political activism at the bequest of a school or teacher does not belong in a K-12 social studies class, and the color of one’s skin does not determine what one can or should learn:” I see this as meaning that, for example, I as a teacher cannot tell students to participate in a protest because of “xyz”, just as I cannot tell students to go to church on Sunday because of “xyz”. I think this is a fair thing to state, and should be stated. However, I believe it needs to be reworded in a way without the “debate” section, as that can be done healthily and is beneficial in some situations. For example, if a student makes a valid statement about a political matter and another student with a different stance engages appropriately, I believe that should be fostered as that is how we create individuals who will be beneficial to our future society. If we avoid it entirely, the students will never be able to approach future decisions and disagreements with rationale and poise.

Haley Homan: My thoughts pertain to elementary standards, as that is what I teach and feel confident giving an opinion about.

  • Developmentally inappropriate at elementary level. Current standards are being pushed to being taught YEARS earlier. There is a reason they are taught when they are. People must take into account many things when writing standards, including development of students and time available to teach social studies. In order to achieve these standards students would need hours more time allotted each week to learning only social studies content. There is way too much to cover with the expected depth of knowledge.
  • Educators should be the biggest contributors to writing the standards. Educators are the experts. We have the knowledge and experience about what is appropriate at each level. Kindergarten & first graders are focused on learning basic reading and math concepts that provide a base for further learning. This is what they should continue to focus on.
  • There is no curriculum that encompasses all of these things at these grade levels. There aren’t any for a reason – it doesn’t make sense to try to teach these concepts at these levels.
  • Do we care that students can memorize the preamble or spell Philadelphia? Or do we want students to know what the Constitution is and why Philadelphia is an important city in the United States?

Keegan Hecht: The US History and US government standards also duplicate some standards/content which at my HS students are already learning possibly simultaneously when they’re juniors when they take us history and possibly also US government. I don’t understand why there is such a focus on history within government standards when many juniors are already discussing these topics the class period before. Certainly some overlap is appreciated, but it seems like a lot of duplication and wasted time having to learn the same things twice a day if a student has government and US history class the same semester.

In addition, in both US History and US government – some the Sub-points that reference readings are really really difficult even for Juniors and Seniors In 9-12.USH.9, sub point E it suggests/requires(????) reading Federalist paper #10.

This exact paper I’m using in my government class this year because I think it’s a good primary source to use. But it is taken me roughly 8 hours to modify it and at least simplify it so that my students can understand it. And I haven’t even modified it enough so that my ELL or students in the SPED Department could even have a remote chance of understanding anything in the document.

Multiple readings listed are too high level and without a significant amount of time, text modification, and scaffolding for students, their ability to get anything out of these requirements is unrealistic. These standards don’t give any hint as to how an HS teacher should accomplish successful discussion of the readings with the actual academic ability of our students and the literal time constraints on our school day and semesters.

To sum up I see five main problems specifically with the US government and US History standards.

  1. Some the actual sub points are often too high level for high school students it seems to be written for a college level course.
  2. There isn’t a clarification whether the Sub-points are required to teach (and there are way way too many) or if they’re optional. I know I can teach more than what standard and sub points are listed, but how many of these sub -points under each standard do I have to hit?
  3. With my Government class, I don’t see any possible way my students will find success when a college level understanding of governmental philosophy/ideologies/thought is required to successfully incorporate your standards.
  4. Seems to be some duplication specifically between US government and US history – not an efficient use of time.
  5. Last, I’m concerned at the almost 100% requirement for students to explain – in other words regurgitate information. I want my students to practice higher level thinking with predicting, comparing and contrasting different views/perspective, analyzing historical events or government policy to argue their own viewpoints. And where we use primary sources or readings that they don’t just explain what they read, but that they can argue a position or give their own opinion about how the literature fits into history etc.

Please make sure to have this be an educator focused standard, built up to actually foster learning and critical thinking for our students. To do this, it is a crucial requirement that numerous expert local teachers who know our students are involved to make a feasible set of standards.

Amanda Hill: In general, I would like to express the concerns I have heard from teachers at multiple levels. Principally, that these standards are unrealistic. They encompass far too much information, as well as skills that do not correspond to the grade levels that they are aligned with. These standards show one thing, and that is that no consideration of ACTUAL K-12 educators was taken into account in their creation.

Mark Harming: I think it is outrageous that you went to an out of state private college (that the Gov’s spokesman graduated from, I’ll add) to create the State’s PUBLIC School Standards.

This is just gross. I find it highly upsetting that SD educators were for the large part, excluded from this process. Requiring a 1st grader to memorize the Preamble to the Constitution is just silly. Can we get real, and actually involve actual professionals in the actual fields (public education, South Dakota, Social science) and get something accomplished, instead of being a political football for the Gov to kick around?

Kylee Hongslo: I enjoy my social studies curriculum in 5th grade. I actually LOVE teaching it. These would completely change my thoughts on teaching social studies and teaching. You already have a teaching shortage and I 100% this will cause even more of a shortage. So if I were you guys I would think twice about what you are doing. You really want a teacher strike when you don’t have enough teachers the way it is? Keep your ones you have loving it, don’t take that away from them, because you will regret it. I do not need to be taught for over a full year about social studies because I already know the social studies I teach. Thank you.

Danielle Duxbury: These comments are my personal expression of concerns about the proposed South Dakota K-12 Social Studies standards. I am a licensed South Dakota School Counselor. I have worked closely with a variety of students ranging from preschool through high school. I am writing, first, as an advocate for students as well as a friend to teachers. This message will address the K-5 standards with examples from Kindergarten. However, all my statements regarding student and teacher well-being are relatively true throughout all levels.

I hope you receive numerous letters with details about specific standards in each grade. I am sticking with what I know personally: overall student well-being.

A love for learning must start young and be fostered. My biggest concern about the proposed Social Studies standards is the difficulty and extensivity starting at such a young age. I have personally seen elementary aged students lose confidence in all aspects of themselves simply because they cannot master a subject skill. Educational standards are already taking the enjoyment out of learning.

Asking five-year-old students to “identify and explain” such things as “The Minuteman” and “Uncle Sam” is absurdly unrealistic. This is just one example of many in the proposed standards. The amount of items for each grade level is also unreasonable for both students and teachers. Kindergarten teachers need to spend a large amount of time working on social and basic learning skills. Adding four categories of Social Studies standards to the extensive list of other subjects gives teachers very little time to focus on foundational human skills necessary for success. Without those learned life skills, all our students are being set up for failure in our educational system and beyond. Teachers are being forced to spend less time on these to meet the demands of subject requirements.

Kindergarten students have yet to learn emotional regulation and self-control. At what point did we decide rigorous educational standards are more important than our children’s well-being? My first job as a school counselor focused more on social/emotional response than proactive approaches, because that was the need. Students are already feeling defeated by our school system. I had to try to build confidence in many young individuals who thought they were “stupid,” “a failure,” or “retarded.” Those are actually words students used to describe themselves more than once in my counseling office.

My curious and excited preschooler will most likely struggle to grasp these concepts next year. I am already fearful he will learn to hate school like so many other students I see. Now, learning is exciting for him. Being tested on concepts outside his cognitive ability will diminish his love for exploring and questioning. Elementary students continue to get more stressed and angry about school because the learning expectations continue to be pushed out of an appropriate age level content. They correlate their ability in school to their self-worth, because that is their major source of identity in early elementary. This is not a healthy way to start learners.

In conclusion, the proposed Social Studies standards are not appropriate for their suggested age levels. By putting this pressure on our students, we are adding undue stress and self-doubt to our state’s most vulnerable population. Please reconsider the depth and breadth of these standards for the sake of our children.

Jennifer Bergan Gabor: I am writing to you as the mother of a second grader in regards to the Social Studies Standards that are being proposed.

I am appalled at the lack of history that is included, as well as the lack of age-appropriate topics.

I know that past SS Standards have been writing by educators that teach in this state and who are trained to be the experts.

The sheer audacity that includes Jesus’s contributions, Christopher Columbus sailing the ocean blue and other topics that have been shown to be white washed is so disrespectful to future generations.

I am also wondering what the impetus is to stop teaching any history after 2008. This is the history that has the most effect on the world today.

If these standards are pushed through, it will be the catalyst for many to remove their children from the public schools in South Dakota.

For families who want more Christian beliefs in the education of their children, there are many options. My child attends the church and Sunday School of our choosing.

Do what is best for the future generations and let’s get SD educators back to the table to put our Social Studies Standards together that will best prepare our students for the world they will run. Submitted via email 8/17/22

Danielle Cleveland: As a current 8th grade history teacher and parent of a child attending public school, I feel compelled to respond to the proposed SS standards.

I have taught history since 2008 and when considering the proposed standards, I’m sickened. A respect and appreciation for history will surely be lost if implemented. First the standards do not consider or support the learning abilities of young students.

The proposed standards do not take into consideration students’ ability to understand the proposed historical events. They are not relevant to each grade level. Primary students need to focus on relevant events of their lives and community, not ancient history.

In addition, the proposed standards will not allow for educators to provide the time and depth necessary for students to achieve and develop an understanding of historical events. It is impossible to cover the amount of information proposed while making certain students develop critical thinking and comprehend the events and their impact.

Students need to have an opportunity to develop a respect, appreciation and understanding of the impact of history. These standards will destroy this. Trust the experts, teachers like me, to determine what is best for our students. Submitted via email 8/18/22

Audra West: The proposed Social Studies standards have been brought to my immediate attention. As a fourth-grade teacher in the state of South Dakota, I am shocked and saddened to read through the unattainable and outlandish expectations of both students and teachers.

The standards are not developmentally appropriate, relevant, or meaningful for young minds. They are setting up students (and teachers) to fail. When we have to devote so much time to reading, writing, and math, it is already difficult to integrate social studies into our unforgivable schedule. Educators will not have the time, the means, or the know how to teach these standards.

I am genuinely concerned for the students in South Dakota. Education and schooling are already hard as is. We are feeling the teacher shortage now. Why would someone want to impose this on all of us? If you want respectable and attainable standards, please have classroom teachers rewrite these standards.

As a district teacher of the year and a state-level educator of the year for South Dakota, I would be more than willing to discuss this issue. Please give teachers and students a chance to succeed. Now is not the time to impose such ludicrous expectations. Please let us teach our students like we know how. Submitted via email 8/16/22

Sandra Crown: [repeats Charla O’Dea above]

Allyson Boerger: I am a 4th grade teacher who loves history and grew up learning to love American history and world history. I even got the chance to see thousands of years of history on a trip to Europe. As a teacher, I have grown to love teaching 4th graders about South Dakota history where I’ve lived all my life. I want to continue teaching our children to love and remember the past so we can continue as a people to learn from it. One thing I cannot recite as an American, a South Dakotan, or a teacher is the Preamble of the Constitution. I also don’t know much of the words in the Declaration of Independence. I know some of the Bill of Rights, but not all of them. If I can’t recite, let alone remember those words, how am I going to require 4th graders to do it? They can sure remember them and practice them but once they go home for the summer, they’ll forget every word. I don’t quite understand how that helps them to understand how to buy items at a store or address an envelope. How is that going to help them when they go to vote for the first time? Another note on the world history standards, no. We never learned it that young because most kids have never even been out of the state, let alone know any other countries. World history needs to continue being taught at older level like 7-12 grades, not in 1st and 4th grade. It would be too hard of content area for younger kids to understand and relate to in their own lives. They need to know some streets in their town or know landforms near them. They certainly don’t need to know about the Roman Empire, yet. History is an amazing topic we can learn from, but we can’t learn from it if we can’t relate to it. I love history but to my students, for most of them, it’s their LEAST favorite subject. If we require them to know some of these proposed new standards, they really going to not like it. Even I won’t think history is my favorite subject anymore. Please think about our kids and want it is we really want them to know and learn. These new standards are not it. Submitted via email 8/17/22

Kim Smith: Overall, these standards were written and submitted in a way that makes it very clear what is to come. Teachers, families, and students deserve much more than a set of standards that is heavily influenced by a Governor with clear intentions and plans to strip our curriculum of honesty and depth. Our children deserve to learn in schools that are not afraid of addressing real histories and struggles of our American people. All of the people. Indigenous people. People of Color. People whose families settled this country. People who worship in ALL houses, not just one. These standards are subtly skewed. We all see it. Teachers are enraged at the roots of these standards; where they came from and who was in charge of changing them. Please understand that South Dakota families and educators expect and demand accountability and transparency. We are losing educators, we are losing credibility as a state that cares about our education. We still have a lot to lose.

Cassi Pietz: Why is there so much repetition without higher levels of understanding? There are literally multiple standards that are identical standards in multiple grades from second grade up to high school. Why is there a focus on memorization? Memorization is one of the lowest levels of education. In a classroom it is usually utilized for extra credit rather than an actual assessment as it does not demonstrate understanding at all.

Why are these standards so completely different from other public education social studies standards in other states? Was a single person on the committee trained in child development? The expectations of lower elementary students are completely unrealistic. Social studies is only a piece of elementary education and the standards proposed here imply a dominance of social studies in grades where more focus must be placed on fundamental/developmental reading and writing skills. Where is the scaffolding (aka concepts that build upon each other) from one grade to the next? This is essential to building understanding. It is not scaffolding to just simply repeat an objective from another grade level and add a thing or two to it. These standards are lazy at best and overall completely out of line with child development.

Suzy Gab: So many of the standards are things that could be looked up. Where is the base understanding for geography? Cultures? I am confused.

Scot Dobbs: As a second-grade educator, I can tell you the standards are well above a second-grade level. Second graders would not understand the caste system as mentioned in feudalism. Most adults do not understand what feudalism is, and a second grader is expected to understand and comprehend feudalism completely. Where in the standards are we addressing South Dakota history? Where are we addressing Native American history that’s important to the state of South Dakota? The standards do not address issues for South Dakota. They seem to lessen the importance of Native Americans. They seem to focus on what The “white man” has done. They do not focus on cultural diversity. Please do not adopt the standards. These will not further than knowledge of South Dakota’s children. We need better standards! Standards not rooted in politics! Create standards that teach the history of the world, the history of the United States the importance of cultures. The importance of the government and how the government should be run. Not standards that are focused on people’s current political beliefs and current political issues influencing the writing of the standards.

Darrin Newton: I want to preface this comment with the fact that I am no longer a SD resident. However, my wife and family lived there for 8 years, and that is where I began my teaching career. To say that I am shocked and angered by these proposed standards is an understatement. These standards are a blatant slap in the face of educators across South Dakota, many of whom put hours of hard work into previous proposed standards that were made in SD, by South Dakotans, for South Dakotans. These new proposed standards are a poor attempt at trying to sneak extreme right-wing ideology into South Dakota schools, to the detriment of students. It is clear that the individual tasked with developing these standards has no background in social studies, and does not understand the development of adolescents. No educator, even those outside of the Social Studies content, would ever consider these standards practical, useful, or beneficial for the students of South Dakota. To push these through the Department of Education would be putting ideologies and partisan politics ahead of the education of students.

Marie Schumacher: These standards all need to be much more age appropriate to be learned effectively by students and taught with patriotism by teachers.

Jeff Ganschow: These are simply the worst standards that could have been developed. I have a huge issue with out of staters (Hillsdale College) telling me what I have to teach the students of South Dakota. These scream political agenda and brainwashing. They are developmentally out of touch with the reality of kids today. The resources that will be provided, will they be thoroughly vetted and research based, or will they just be a continuation of feeding the pocketbooks of companies that align with Noem’s agenda? The educational system has established ways of choosing curriculum, I can’t see how any school district could find a curriculum that will meet these ridiculous standards. Why wouldn’t we trust a panel of actual SD teachers for this when we entrust their knowledge for math, language arts and science standards? Could it be because the Governor continues to put her own interests ahead of the general well-being of all of South Dakota? Go back and adopt the current standards with minimal changes, those are the ones that actually make sense for the education of South Dakota students.

Jeff Ganschow [second comment]: These are terrible! I look forward to the groups that form to oppose these and sue the state! Do BETTER!

Emily Lincoln: Elementary standards: The proposed standards are overly ambitious and seemed based more in what would work “ideally” than what is actually feasible in most elementary classrooms. As a special educator, I have a lot of concern about the specific mention of spelling various countries and capitals correctly while locating on a map. Of course we all aim to spell correctly – does someone really think that teachers just want kids to take their best shot at the spelling, and that’s all we require? On the other hand, think of how many special Education students, with a documented legitimate disability, are literally incapable of meeting this grade-level standard because of the mention of correct spelling – and through no fault of their own, and no amount of highly-qualified teaching can change that in order for the entire grade level to be considered as achieving competency?

Shawn Giesler: Absolutely ridiculous – who wrote these things anyway???

Debra Holloway: I was looking at other states standards and these proposed standards are TOTALLY UNREALISTIC. Go to the schools and ASK teachers what they think of this and they will all tell you the same thing. First grade students need to learn about their community before they ever think about learning American History.

In 4th grade, South Dakota History has always been the norm as in other states who teach their state history. This needs taught in South Dakota Schools. The book also needs rewritten as there are many typographical errors along with names being changed from one person to another. The South Dakota History book also puts a negative light on Native Americans and that is wrong. If you want to change the standards, try adding the Oceti Sakowin Essential Understandings as all of our schools have Native American Students in them.

Stop making setting our students up for failure by having these unreal expectations for them in the proposed Social Studies Standards.

Patrick Day (retired): I taught social studies and history for 31 years. I have a Master of Science degree in Curriculum and Instruction.

  1. What is proposed is not really Social Studies, it is History. They are different.
  2. The proposed plan is overly ambitious and not age appropriate and therefore will not work.
  3. The topics are fine, but trying to get young children to learn all that, sounds more like an ideology at work here than sound educational practice.

Back to the drawing board is my strong recommendation.

Ally Bowers: I am a certified science teacher and have many concerns and objections to these standards. These standards are age-inappropriate at the lower grade levels. I am very concerned that valuable time and energy will be spent by both students and teachers trying to learn and teach topics that are niche and not widely known or necessary for students to understand in order to be effective citizens. I’m also concerned about the lack of state history and connection to the Oceti Sakowin Essential Understandings. Many of these standards require memorization (of a piece of text, of a place on a map, of the spelling of a capital) and as a teacher, I know very well that memorization is not equal to learning. I’m also concerned with the development of these standards. The fact that an initial committee met and spent their valuable time revising the standards LAST summer, only to have their work changed without change in authorship and eventually thrown out, is disrespectful to the folks who volunteered for that committee. To then spend $200,000 on the creation of a new committee and facilitation of someone handing the new committee (which is severely lacking in certified education professionals) a batch of standards that they were not allowed to revise is OUTRAGEOUS. This entire process has been a year-long fiasco.

Peggy Hubble (retired): Disappointed in that these standards were written by a private college in Michigan & paid $200K of our taxes, when our own teachers revised these standards a year ago. This is definitely a political move by our governor to be noticed by the radical conservatives trying to solve a problem that never existed!

Jennifer Lacher-Starace: I hold a Master’s in Education, and I have been a certified English and social studies teacher at the secondary level for 27 years. For 8 of those years, I was an Instructor in the teacher education program at SDSU where, among other courses, I taught the Social Studies Methods course for four years. I am also a parent of an 11th grade student and a 7th grade student. I am extremely upset by the proposed social studies standards for two main reasons:

  1. They are not developmentally appropriate — especially in grades K-5. Asking first graders to memorize and recite the preamble to the Constitution is an empty, meaningless use of instructional time for 6- and 7-year-old children. Second graders cannot be expected to understand feudalism in any meaningful way. Standards like this abound in the new document, and they are ludicrous.
  2. There is too much emphasis on low-level thinking skills like memorization and recitation and not enough emphasis on building a deeper understanding of the content, practicing discipline specific skills (like evaluating and citing primary sources), and developing critical thinking and application of knowledge to new contexts. All of these are skills needed in college and career, but rote memorization and recitation are NOT.

I am also deeply concerned about the process by which these standards were developed. The committee was NOT representative of the stakeholders in public education in South Dakota. These proposed standards should be REJECTED in favor of revisiting and possibly revising as needed the standards developed by the more representative committee in summer 2021. Submitted via email 8/17/22

Lynne Seftner: The lack of insight and respect shown actual educators during this process is almost as disturbing as the final product. The amount of money spent with consultants to rewrite these standards is difficult to grasp. Such a waste. As I read the proposed standards, I was disappointed in both the content and lack of understanding in how children learn. From the amount of material, to the lack of developing critical thinking skills, the heavy expectation of rote memorization…it all appears to be in my opinion, a step back from our current standards, not to mention a huge waste of money. As a 35-year veteran educator, I am saddened and concerned with this document. We can do better. We ARE better than this. Let’s head back to the meeting table. Sincerely, Lynn Senftner ABO Schools Onida, SD Submitted via email… 8/17/22

Mike Benson (retired): I am a recently retired teacher with 45 years of teaching experience.

I just read the proposed standards and I am in awe of the lack of professionalism for those responsible for writing the standards, and who was responsible? Politicizing education standards has to be the most egregious move this administration has undertaken. Wiping out SD history will not make it go away! Just another slap in the face of South Dakota educators.

Hopefully this will be the push SD residents will need to get out and vote!
Submitted via email 8/16/22

Constance Krueger (retired): These standards seem fraught with problems. May we have enlightened discussion and come to an understanding about what is best for our K-12 Public students.

Samantha Lindholm: I do not believe these standards are a positive improvement at all. As a K-12 educator myself I do not understand how these are the best option. Eliminating geography at the seventh-grade level is not something that is beneficial to our students. They need to know about the world around them. Yes it’s important to learn our history and culture, but if they don’t understand others in the world we are setting them up for failure. I also find it very hard to understand why the standards in the elementary are so high even though I know our students are not at that level developmentally. If you look at what they do in those classes that is not age-appropriate. Then the standards for the middle school are extremely simplistic. Encouraging the students not to think for themselves or do any kind of research is the opposite of what history is. We need to learn from it and understand it. It’s not just memorizing facts that you can spew forward. I really hope that these are looked at with much greater intensity and fix. I also find it very hard to understand why we would pick these things when we can’t find curriculum for them as a teacher, where are these materials coming from? We will have no resources to pick from. This just doesn’t make sense. I hope to see great change in these before they are finalized.

Andy McKay: Low cognitive complexity, low rigor focused on knowing, telling and reciting. Many K-5 standards are not developmentally appropriate for the age of the student they are tagged too. Additionally, the amount of content in each grade for K-5 is insurmountable from a classroom teacher standpoint. Example: in the draft, K.SS.1 has a total of 14 sub bullet points. The entire K standards in the previous version consisted of 17 headings and sub points. These do not seem to be standards in the sense of educational standards. I’m curious how many minutes per day SS is taught in a classroom that is able to simply address each item in the draft standards? Much less give students time to build understanding, practice, and master.

Tucker Bigge: Rather than providing individual feedback for the rest of the grades, I will voice my general discontent with the standards here. It is apparent to me that there were not nearly enough teachers or individuals familiar with child development and education on the committee that drafted these standards. While it is commendable to put high educational standards in place for our youth, when these standards are unreasonable for students or educators to meet, they’re overall less than worthless. If any revisions are to be made, I sincerely hope that they are made under the watchful eye of those well-acquainted with the day-to- day procedures of a classroom, lest we place attainable goals for students and staff to strive for.

Sadie Bossert:

  • A majority of these standards are not developmentally appropriate for each grade level. They only expect students to memorize facts, and not use their critical thinking skills.
  • What resources/curriculum tools will you be providing for teachers? Do you really have an age-appropriate children’s book about the Persian Wars that can be read to a 1st Grader?
  • The amount of time it would take to teach all of these standards is astounding and would not leave room for important subjects like Math and Reading.
  • Also, the blatantly obvious Christian-focused standards would definitely go against our governor’s “divisive concepts” executive order, wouldn’t it? If you want to learn about Jesus then go to a private Christian school. There is such a worry about “indoctrinating” our students, yet there are numerous standards here that are basically telling our children how to think/believe.

Please review the standards that were created by the educator-filled committee back in July of 2021. They are appropriately aligned through the grade levels, and were created by a group of educators who actually know what their specific age groups can/should learn. You are also more than welcome to come to my Kindergarten classroom in Aberdeen to see what a 5 year old is capable of before you decide to give them high-school-level material to learn.
Coming from a teacher and a parent of 3 young girls, you need to completely overhaul these standards for the sake of the children in South Dakota.

Laura Hagen: [repeats Charla O’Dea]

Allison Coby: I do not find these standards to be developmentally appropriate. I think the chronological order of the world history piece does not make sense. Why are students learning with such gaps in the years between what they study in American history and what they study in world history, during the same school year? Learning about the world up to 60 BCE while studying America during the 1500s to the 1800s doesn’t make sense. Why not study the rest of the world and what was happening in the early stages of America?

I also want to point out that I am a teacher but wished to do this anonymously because I honestly fear retaliation any time I speak my mind regarding my job, particularly if it’s pointing out anything negative. I don’t feel like the public in SD want to hear what we have to say, as evidenced by the very few teachers you had on this committee.

Donovan DeBoer: As an educator in South Dakota, this is embarrassing. The entire process has been politicized and handled poorly. This document has multiple unrealistic expectations at all levels. This process has been stumbled and bumbled from the beginning, and it has resulted in a document that is ridiculous and [absurd]. All South Dakota educators and administrators should oppose the entire thing, and it should be done correctly by social studies teachers that are professional and work with KIDS every day. I would gladly be part of that committee, and would gladly stand up and let any legislator in South Dakota know how I feel, including the Governor.

Sara DeLay: These standards are not developmentally appropriate for our learners. Please rethink these and make changes for our kids. Adding SD history back in would also make them more relatable to the kids learning these things

Ellie Rohlck: The proposed social studies standards appear to be wildly out of line for what is appropriate for each grade level. The younger students will not have the background knowledge, vocabulary, or reading comprehension to meet these standards. The older students seem to have standards more focused on memorization, instead of critical thinking. Why were the original standards crafted by educators in the state thrown out and replaced by people who are not experienced in this field with only limited educator involvement by comparison? Where will the curriculum be found to teach these standards, since the sequence was turned upside down?

Holly Matzen: The standards in the early years are not age appropriate in skill or interest. The standards in the older grades are too focused on rote memorization rather than critical thinking.

The scope and sequence of these standards does not line up with any other state, so curriculum materials will be difficult and expensive to find, especially in the elementary grades.

Beth Keeney: These standards are not age appropriate and seem to have been written by stills who haven’t stepped foot in an elementary school, especially 1st grade. Go back to the original draft where real educators , who work in real schools , with real kids wrote the standards. This is politically driven and smells like a desperate presidential campaign. SD has a teacher shortage and yet we continue to disptrct the work they do. I’m sickened by this whole process.

Brian Scott Shanks (retired): Native American history is a glaring short coming in these proposed standards. Critical thinking seems to be ignored, bored students will be the outcome. There are ways to have discussions without the teacher preaching their own beliefs. I believe that you need open thoughtful discussions when helping kids become active well informed citizens.

Susan Zueger: These standards are unrealistic especially at the elementary level where students are learning the fundamentals of literacy. There is also a clear conservative slant that upholds the European/Caucasian experience as most important in our American history. The fact that there were not many South Dakota educators who vetted these standards makes it clear that these standards are a political move to further create animosity toward educators at a time when few want to go into the profession. These standards will cause many young children to feel defeated and if passed, you will have parents and school boards railing for their removal.

Ann Krier (retired): These proposed standards need to be reviewed by current group of teachers and school curriculum directors before implementation.

Valerie Wilkens: Please reconsider the proposed standards and the committee chosen to develop the Social Studies Standards for South Dakota. It is critical to the well-being of our children that experts in the field of education and child development are a part of the committee involved in the SD Social Studies Standards moving forward.

Chris Rhodes (retired): …Go back to the drawing board! These standards will set our students and teachers up for a culture of failure. Do right by our South Dakota kids! Redesign these standards!

Sylvia Johnson: First, I would like to recognize the time and energy that went into making this document. It’s a lot of work planning for students. I would know, I’m an educator. However, I have many concerns about these proposed standards at all levels. The main things that stick out for me are them not being developmentally appropriate, the lack of critical thinking within each standard (looks like a lot of memorizing), and that there isn’t curriculum made for these standards at that grade level. Most would agree that teaching the Punic Wars to first graders is inappropriate in so many ways. The first would be the vocabulary associated with such a topic and teaching students about war when they’re still trying to tie their shoes.

As an educator I’ve seen a lot. I’m only a 3rd year teacher and I’ve seen so much. We have students falling behind in basic social skills. Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs tells us that students cannot learn until their basic needs are met. We should be less concerned about our elem students recognizing every president and memorizing a map with major landmarks they’ll never get to visit. We need to focus on our students’ needs being met. We need them to have food, clothing, and a safe place to go. I’ve had a student commit suicide and I’ve had a student (5th grade) go through a D and C. We do not need to add this to their plates. Our world is broken and this will not solve it.

History of the US is important. I taught middle school social studies and LOVED it! We dug deep into Andrew Jackson, the effects of Christopher Columbus, how our culture stems from the ancient Greeks and Romans. But that was middle school. Only after our students are able to read informational text will they be able to learn this kind of information. We need this in HS where students are entering into adulthood. They need to be well informed citizens. They need to know our country’s founding as well as the world evolving through the centuries. But not as elementary kids who are still learning to read in 3rd grade. Please, just let kids be kids.

Love, A burnt out, young educator with a passion to teach the next generation

Heather Cooper: Starting with kindergarten, these standards are very developmentally inappropriate.

Marilyn Strait (retired): We should regard the work of teachers in the field that developed original standards. The updated standards are inappropriate for some of these grades. Who did the updating? More transparency is needed…. about the new writers; who did it? These standards cannot begin to be met per grade level. Drop the revised and go with the original

Merideth Wald: As far as early elementary standards, what is being asked is not even attainable. You can’t take the entire world’s history from year 1 on and just cut it into chunks. Especially when you are putting the first 315 years into first grade! They will not relate to or retain most of this! If you want students at any age to understand this material you must consider their age, their ability level, reading level, and the means to assess their knowledge. This doesn’t even touch on the fact that teachers have very limited time in a week to cover everything, and unfortunately social studies isn’t at the very top of the list of necessities. When we are expected to get them to read and be accurate mathematicians, reciting the preamble as a first grader is low on the list. If we want teachers to be able to teach our social studies standards well, the standards must be more attainable than these are.

Amanda Dietz: At first, I was very fired up about these standards; reading them, it was clear those who should have been consulted on the feasibility and reasonableness of such standards were not, and that is offensive in many ways to my profession and to the expertise of my colleagues and myself. However, I do want to stress, even after the comments I’ve already left, that conversations about education are welcome by educators. We find them important. We don’t want things to always stay the same, as there is no benefit to stifling progress, and when we know better, we should do better. However, these standards do not reflect collaboration and progress; they do not reflect best practices and they are misguided, at best. They do not welcome educators to share their knowledge and to take part in something they have a huge stake in. The process by which the previous, new standards were discounted and these were created seems suspicious, and the fact that professionals who do have knowledge and experience were largely not included (which is different than all the other standards sessions our state has had) seems not only purposeful, but also a shame. I’m not sure what the public would expect from this process, but as I mentioned before, I am disappointed to say the least. These are unacceptable. I hope after public input has ended, that we can all come to the table together to serve those in our like interest – the children of this state.

Amanda Dietz [second comment]: Breadth of knowledge too great and not developmentally appropriate, especially in the elementary grades. It is obvious those who are experts in childhood development, learning styles, pedagogy, and lesson design/assessment weren’t consulted, as these would NOT have passed. As a parent, I am concerned on the type of content that is included; I DO NOT want my children learning some of these things from instructors, and also don’t see a benefit, as an educator, in some of these standards. Greatly disappointed, but not surprised that these were presented based on the lack of support for education presented by our governor, as well as lack of respect. These standards offend those who DO understand their implications, and are a great waste of time for those who created them, as well as those who will have to teach them, and down to those who will be asked to learn them. It is not what is best for kids.

Bobbi Greenfield: The standards at the lower grades seem very developmentally inappropriate. The standards would fit better at the middle school or high school level. I also wonder why students are being asked to memorize parts of historic documents. These documents are readily available and time would be better spent understanding and analyzing the documents.

Mary Husman: Ridiculously inappropriate! We’re any seasoned certified teachers included in this process? I have been on dozens of curriculum committees and none of them would have presented something this garbage for serious consideration

Kurt Drube (retired): As a 20+ year retired geography teacher and trained Geography Teacher Consultant through the SD Geographical Society I was stunned by the geography “standards”. Geography teachers have worked hard over the years to develop standards that included all aspects of geography and not just the theme of Location. We were able to implement the teaching of geography through 5 Themes. Location, “where is it?” Place, “what’s it like there?” Interaction, “how do people interact with others and the environment?” Movement, “how do people, goods and ideas move?” Region, “how do we group locations?” (by population, language, governments, religion, etc) These “standards” for geography were dominated by locating places on a map and spelling them correctly, certainly important but that’s not geography. The critical thinking skills developed through the other themes are missing. We are taking a huge step back in time by adopting these geography standards. Go to YouTube and watch any of the replays of the National Geographic Bee competitions and see what kind of questions are asked of the students. They are not just location and spelling.

Michael Mitchell: I’m going to keep this brief: these standards appear to be as politically/religiously/racially charged as the status quo you’re trying to oppose. However, I’m only here to say that if you’re going to redesign standards, at least allow qualified educators to place them in appropriate grade levels with attainable learning standards that respect things like Webb leveling and Piaget’s stages. In order to be functional, standards must at least loosely match stages of development. We don’t expect someone who hasn’t learned algebra to learn calculus, and if we wish for these standards to be effective, it is important to keep the learning progression in mind.

Deborah Harrowa: Where do we find resources for the grades being educated? How do we expect elementary students to LEARN middle and high school content? Vocab and content are far too high. When do students learn geography? Why didn’t actual educators help write these standards, like in the past? When do we trust educators to teach students critical thinking and to question the world? These standards are not geared to student learning and achievement!

Joe Bundy: The elementary standards are ridiculous. Where does the time in the day come from to include longer SS time? Middle school and high school students struggle with some of the concepts that are in the standards for K-5! High school standards are ok, there are just so many of them. To me, a standard is something that needs to be covered. If we have to cover all of that information we will need to add several required social studies classes.

It is like you are at an all you can eat buffet and you are trying to put some of everything onto one plate. You cannot fit it on that plate, but you still are trying to. To do this you will need to get more plates (more required SS classes), which is fine with me as a SS teacher, but then you are taking away from other classes and there are fewer opportunities for elective classes.

If implemented, what kind of support will you be giving to the teachers, especially elementary teachers), to make these extensive standards possible?

Anne Beckstrand: These standards are certainly not age appropriate. I encourage you to revisit them with grade level teachers involved.

Jane Healy (former): Too much rote, which is not high-level thinking. Elementary standards are not developmentally appropriate (many are too high level), nor possible to fulfill in the time allotted. Whole sections on Jesus are better left to home and church. Will require new k-12 curriculum, as what is expected per grade level does not align with current standards.

Shadryn Lemon: Each one of these standards could be pulled out on its own and be an entire semester long college course. The majority of these standards are developmentally inappropriate for K-12 students and are setting up South Dakota’s students and teachers for failure.

William Carpenter: Forward:
To introduce this at the start of a school year with a limited timeframe for comment is an indication that the state wants to push this through without a through cross-examination of the proposal. I believe that two months should be the public’s time to adequately review the draft. For example, how many SS departments during a back-to-school in-service would like to review this draft and how it will affect current and future textbook purchases?
A.The proposed standards committee omits where they teach in SD. The 2015 Document lists everyplace that the committee teaches(p.2-3, 2015 Document).
B. How many active South Dakota teachers were involved with this draft proposal? Who is William Morrisey? How many non-teachers in South Dakota were involved with this draft? How many non-residents of South Dakota were involved with this draft?
C. How are the Notable Changes from the 2015 document to this proposed draft noted and the why behind the changes? For example, on pg. 8 of the document, the draft says “Streamlined Identification
Standards have been relabeled to improve accessibility. This allows for easier use by teachers as they teach and by parents who wish to see what their child is expected to study without having to be up to date on the most recent systems in education administration.”
C1:Education Administration is the Principal/Superintendent position.
C2:The 2015 standards are on the DOE website and anyone can see them( This statement implies that the state was making it difficult for teachers and parents to access SD SS Standards.
D. Resources: On pg.7 of the 2015 document, resources were listed. What resources were used in this draft?
E. In relation to the KG proposed standards, how many Kindergarten teachers did the committee consult concerning the proposed KG standards? What were their names and where do they teach?
E1. In relation to the 1G proposed standards, how many 1G teachers did the committee consult concerning the proposed 1G standards? What were their names and where do they teach?
E2. In relation to the 2G proposed standards, how many 2G teachers did the committee consult concerning the proposed 2G standards? What were their names and where do they teach?
E3. In relation to the 3G proposed standards, how many 3G teachers did the committee consult concerning the proposed 3G standards? What were their names and where do they teach?
E4. In relation to the 4G proposed standards, how many 4G teachers did the committee consult concerning the proposed 4G standards? What were their names and where do they teach?
E5. In relation to the 5G proposed standards, how many 5G teachers did the committee consult concerning the proposed 5G standards? What were their names and where do they teach?
E6. In relation to the 6G proposed standards, how many 6G teachers did the committee consult concerning the proposed 6G standards? What were their names and where do they teach?
E7. In relation to the 7G proposed standards, how many 7G teachers did the committee consult concerning the proposed 7G standards? What were their names and where do they teach?
E8. In relation to the 8G proposed standards, how many 8G teachers did the committee consult concerning the proposed 8G standards? What were their names and where do they teach?
E9. In relation to the 9-12G proposed standards, how many 9-12G teachers did the committee consult concerning the proposed 9-12G standards? What were their names and where do they teach?
F. Source: Argus Leader: “On that workgroup are at least 13 registered Republicans, and only three people with active South Dakota K-12 teaching certificates. Last year, the workgroup had more than 40 members, and this year, it has only 15. The DOE said it received 203 applications from people wishing to join this year’s workgroup.”
F1. Is there a political litmus test that must be applied to every standard revision in SD?
G: Source: Argus Leader: ” William Morrisey, who once taught at Hillsdale College, facilitated the workgroup. Morrisey will be paid $200,000 from the DOE for his work when it’s complete, including for facilitating meetings and public hearings, with his expenses paid separately.”
G1: How is this pay separate? Is this being paid with taxpayer dollars? What is the justification for Mr. Morrisey to be on the draft committee?
In conclusion, I hope that the state trusts the certified teachers who live and work in SD enough to consult them once more on the draft proposal.

Maridee Dossett: As I compare the proposed standards to the current content standards, I feel we are taking a step backward. The current standards encourage critical thinking, problem solving, and inquiry based learning, while the proposed standards are asking for memorizing, explaining, and identifying. Research indicates that students typically forget information they are forced to memorize, and it is less meaningful to them because real life connections are often not focused on with this method. I feel that by adopting these standards we are stifling student creativity, and overwhelming them with memorizing dates, timelines, and people of the past rather than making connections with history and learning from with the goal of changing the future.

Nicole Sarringer: I believe that students should not have to learn about American History beginning in 1st grade. The mapping skill are important and something that should be taught young, but there are so many standards for each grade. There is no way that elementary teachers will be able to teach any other subject because there are so many social studies standards. Students learn the same thing in 1st grade that they do in 7th.

Do we really think that students are going to remember the information by 7th grade? In reality, we are wasting that 1st grade teacher’s time. Once students reach middle and high school, they are sectioned into their certain classes. That is the time to hit certain time periods.

In all honesty, if we want students to hate social studies, these standards are the way to do it. We can’t expect students to memorize all of the information that each standard proposes.

Joan M. Wilson: WOW! The number of standards and the grade level expectations are extraordinary! There are not enough hours in the day or year to adequately cover these standards when added into the other curriculum and daily activities in a classroom. Students at the various grade levels may not even be able to comprehend many of the standards suggested. Even 2nd and 3rd graders would struggle with standards proposed at the kindergarten level. This not only puts more stress on educators but also overwhelms students with inappropriate age requirements.

Kayla Anderson: Why are you changing it after you had a great group of teachers that worked so hard on making it appropriate for our kids and graded level! Now you just put random people there that probably have never taught a day in their life! As a teacher and a parent you cannot let this pass! This will be a huge mistake for our children! Please think about our children and their future!

Brittni Cordingley: I am an elementary educator and a mother of 4. The proposed elementary standards are so age inappropriate it makes my chest tight. Someone clearly has forgotten that a first grader is 6 years old and needs to know nothing about the Punic Wars?! I am really excited if my students leave second grade understanding that we live in a town, which is part of a state, which is part of a country, which is on a continent of planet Earth. Even these details are too abstract for many second graders. Why in the world would elementary educators need to teach these (often disturbing) standards to a young child? We talk so much about the mental health of our children and then we are going to start teaching them about war and arrest at age 6?? My mind is blown that this was even published, and it absolutely breaks my heart that people are making decisions for our students that clearly have no idea what actually happens in a classroom.

Jennifer Nedrebo: I am highly disappointed that our department of education and secretary of education would even think about adopting these standards. The whole process was done incorrectly and they should go back to the standards that educators in the state spent so much time and energy to revise. If you have a child or have ever raised a child it should be obvious how inappropriate these standards are for kids.

Valerie Neuharth: As an educator, I am upset that once again, our governor has IGNORED teachers In the process of writing the standards. The initials standards written 2 years ago by a committee of teaching professionals was fine. The depth and complexity of the standards for certain grade levels in absurd. Not to mention, the standards are Christian based, and we are a public school system. Shameful.

Kathy Seymour (retired): The elementary standards are unrealistic and many are developmentally inappropriate.

Emma Huntimer: Not only are many standards inappropriate for the age group of the set grade level; the language used within the standards do not foster a deep understanding of the topic. Instead, the language used is of the lowest level of Webb’s Depth of Knowledge. The first level of Webb’s Depth of Knowledge is made up of memorization and retelling skills. These skills do nothing to build the critical thinking skills that students will need and use as citizens. Standards should reflect all levels of knowledge and allow students to build their analytical and critical thinking skills.
The layout of the standards does not follow the layout of other content standards. In most layouts, there is a main standard listed with an objective and DOK level listed underneath. The objectives that can be used by teachers as they plan lessons. As a teacher, I find it helpful to have the objective of the standard listed along with its standing of “Depth of Knowledge” (DOK).

Overall, these standards are laughable and should not be adopted. I highly suggest that the standards written by the original committee from 2021 be revisited. Those standards were created by local professionals in the education field. Having once served on a standard revision committee, I know firsthand how much work, thought, and discussion goes into each revision. The newly proposed standards do not showcase that same level of thought and expertise.

Jesse M Sporrer: They suck! Clearly not much classroom experience with the people who wrote these. There is no way teachers especially at the elementary levels can do all of what you ask. Stop playing politics and allow the teachers (experts In their field) to do their job!

Chris Thielen: I cannot believe, having grown up my entire life in South Dakota, that you are going to ruin the one thing South Dakotan’s have always boasted about. Our education system has always been outstanding, since the time I was in kindergarten. I remember every single one of my teachers, because of the support, because they cared, because they wanted you to succeed, because they were part of the community. And, now, our illustrious governor, has proposed the single biggest embarrassment of her time in office. I couldn’t believe this horseshit until I read it. one thing is for sure; in one year, you’ll be 1500 teachers short because of her shortfall. I have nothing but respect for the teachers in my lifetime, though middle-school, high-school, undergrad and grad courses in college. Obviously, the governor is more concerned with the kickback from the community college in Hillsdale, than the betterment of South Dakota youth. Whoever put this survey together should apologize to everyone they know in South Dakota. Because their children will suffer. Unbelievable. Embarrassing. Beyond embarrassing.

Abby Martinez: While trying to teach American and World history in chronological order may seem logical it is actually quite the opposite. Children at the K-3rd level do not have the capacity/world view to understand concepts that are so foreign and abstract to them. After reading this through it seems quite obvious that you most likely did not have enough educators helping with the creation of these standards. State history needs to be taught at the elementary level while it is tangible and relevant for them. World history should be taught when they are old enough and mature enough to grasp foreign concepts and apply them. These proposed standards are not practical.

Ashley Larson: I, Ashley Larson, as an educator, parent, and voter, oppose the proposed Social Studies standards.

The State of South Dakota and Governor Kristi Noem have a responsibility to be transparent about the creation of these standards. As an educator, as well as a parent of young children, it is obvious to me that the writer(s) of these standards are woefully uneducated regarding the developmental abilities of young children. This is demonstrated repeatedly in the standards written for Kindergarten through fifth grade. As a second grade teacher, I can assure you that my students are in no way ready to learn, much less comprehend the fall of the Roman Empire and its effects on society.

The entirety of standards 2.SS.3 and 4 read as if they were plagiarized from the objectives of a high school course.
These standards ignore an already established scope and sequence that is followed throughout the country. I would challenge the writers of these standards to find a textbook written for second graders that covers the major events during the rule of Constantine.

Honestly, should these standards be approved and put into place in our state, we will be the laughingstock of the nation. I don’t think it takes a specialist in early childhood development to understand that the average first grader will be unlikely to be able to memorize the preamble, let alone understand it. These standards read like a bad April Fool’s Day joke, and our students deserve so much more.

Carol Waider: This document is beyond frustrating. The standards lack cohesiveness. At this rate two social studies standards will have to be addressed each week for the year. We will not have time to develop understanding. Teachers will be continually slinging information at students and it will be difficult to determine if learning has occurred.

Danielle Hunt: I am only directing my comments to the standards I teach (except for the 4th grade comment). I oppose the entire revamping of all standards. When a country only concentrates on their own country and the past, they will live in the past. Our children will be naive, not encouraged to improve the world, not have empathy to the world’s issues and not be prepared to help be the solution. Again, this is embarrassing as an educator and our children will not be ready for the real world when they graduate.

Tatem Effling: Trust the educators in this state that came up with the original standards. These go too far. You are pushing the elementary students to learn stuff they are not ready for or have a curriculum for. This is not okay.

Monica Ellwanger: Overall, I believe that these standards outline a specific curriculum and are not truly standards that can be built upon for understanding. As an early childhood educator for over 15 years, I can say with certainty that the K-2 standards (specifically) are not written with a child’s development in mind. After reviewing the upper elementary standards with my fellow educators, I they also do not appear developmentally appropriate. Please take our students into account when voting on these standards.

Kristin Rath: I find these proposed social studies wildly developmentally inappropriate, especially at the younger grades. These are DRASTICALLY different than the current standards. What, if anything, supports this major shift and how is it benefitting the growth of our students? I take issue with the standards workgroup being shrunk to just 15 people to create standards for grades K-12, and only 3 of those 15 are license educators!

Katie Harrrington: I am very disappointed in the proposed standards. I would really like to keep the standards we have or revisit changing them again. The standards that are being proposed will not work for any grade level. I am very disappointed in these standards that are proposed.

Casey Kieffer: I couldn’t get past the vast amount of first grade standards without glossing over, let alone looking at all the other grade levels. From what I’m hearing from educators and community members, the elementary standards are overall overwhelming.

Elizabeth Renbarger: Rote memorization at all levels is not learning. The state needs to create critical thinkers, not memorizing robots. These standards are not age appropriate. They obviously were not created by educators who work with each grade level. These standards need to include more Native American standards, as that is a large population in our state. Please reconsider all these standards, and have real experts, current classroom teachers, help write them.

Kimberly Soldatke: Memorization in lower elementary grades is not appropriate and a lack of critical thinking in the upper grades is missing in the standards. The repetition of the same information each year is also concerning. I question the engagement of students. I am disappointed teachers were not involved in writing the standards. The lack of teacher involvement reinforces a feeling of disrespect and value to educators in South Dakota.

Erin (Moser) Clarke: First, thank you for your work and dedication to our schools and students. I know it took time to create and revise these social studies standards, however, these are not age or developmentally appropriate for our students. I am a current First Grade teacher and we work on the following social studies concepts throughout the school year: school and classroom rules and expectations, classroom community, friendships, maps and globes (differentiating between the two and being able to locate different landmasses vs. bodies of water), U.S. symbols, traditional U.S. holidays and events, being able to create a personal timeline, and economics (needs vs. wants). We are also teaching our students to build upon their reading and writing skills. I don’t understand how teaching about war or being able to memorize the preamble is going to set and encourage foundational learning and growing. My goal is to create a classroom community where all students can feel safe asking questions and learning from their peers, as we all have different experiences and perspectives. In addition, we strive to teach the root to the answer, not to simply memorize facts. See: “new math”! These new standards will not be well received by six and seven year olds because they need concepts that are relatable to where they are in their young lives. Please consider revising these standards so we can provide an appropriate learning experience to our students! Thank you for your time!

Nikki Townsend: These standards were clearly not written by educators. I worry about the fact that students are not allowed to debate current political topics. When are our students supposed to learn how to gather information, form an opinion, and politely debate important topics. “Divisive topics” is a very broad term and open to interpretation.

Susie Hooth: None of this is age appropriate. K-5 deep world history will be the biggest waste of time. They will not be able to understand this. Who wanted this added and why? What was wrong with what was being taught already?

Sara Speer: I don’t work with high school students, but many of the lower elementary standards are not age appropriate.

Teri Kinsley: I am a concerned parent, educator, and registered voter. I do not approve of these standards. These are not age appropriate, especially for elementary. Some (of many) areas of concern include:

  • Who were the authors?
  • Why is SD state history only taught in high school?
  • Apparently American history only began in 1492? There is no mention of anything related to Native American culture through 2nd grade.
  • Do people realize teachers also need to teach reading, writing, math, and science in a school day?
  • There are too many heavily loaded topics. This material could never be covered deeply enough for primary student comprehension.

Haley Gallant: These standards are absolutely outrageous in many areas. If we adopt these standards, we will be expecting elementary age children to learn, memorize, and recite pieces of information that were previously only reviewed in high school, if at all. No first grader should have to memorize any part of the constitution. Please, let’s get back to learning what is important and attainable to the specific age group!

Kennedee Goodro: Overall I think these standards are not academically where students are. In kindergarten most are beyond their thinking and not developmentally appropriate. I am also concerned with the violent historical events this is exposing students to.

Katie Purcella: Written as a Kristi Noem supporter: these standards are too big for many of our children to comprehend. Exposure is important and we can and should introduce historical figures, geography, civics, world events….however the elementary standards are not age or developmentally appropriate. It is evident that teachers were not involved in the writing process of these standards.

Micah Siegel: These standards are sickening. They are completely developmentally inappropriate and I’m disappointed in our educational leadership in the state of SD. As a SD elementary educator for over twenty-five years, our students, families, and teachers deserve better. Leave these decisions up to the experts. I welcome this committee to visit my classroom for a week as they need a reminder that I am teaching children.

Haley Dressler: These should be tossed out entirely. Either go back to what was proposed last summer or do not change the standards at all.

Mary K. Boe: I am strongly opposed.

Dani Haensel: Keep the American History portion for elementary – take out the world history standards. Way too much for elementary. Put South Dakota History standards back for fourth grade.

Kate Mogard: Please, please allow educators of young children to offer constructive feedback about how to make these appropriate for young children.

Rebecca Severson: What happened to students learning about the history of/in their own state?! Those types of topics along with simplified versions of government and history topics would be much more suited and age appropriate for elementary students. If these standards are adopted, districts are going to have a hard time finding curriculum that will be appropriate for these standards and teachers are going to have a tough time finding supplemental materials that are age appropriate for their students, especially multi-grade teachers like myself.

Holly Hodge: no

Abby Gullickson: The standards should not be changed. This proposal is unnecessary and not based in research. I urge you to stop this change.

Carrie Aaron (retired): Where is the SD history? Why are some items so very age-inappropriate? Why are you afraid of teaching all parts of our history, both things to be proud of and things that need(ed) to be changed? You know full well that CRT has never been taught in K-12 education in SD. Kristi Noem is making a culture war when it’s a non-issue. Shame.

Amber Birkmire: Overall, the standards are not developmentally appropriate. The expectations of elementary students are not what students are capable of meeting. Keeping these standards as proposed would hinder our students. There is also much missing as it pertains to race and culture in the United States. These standards show a white-washed version of history akin to present-day Germany ignoring Hitler and WWII in their history curriculum. Knowing history helps us prevent atrocities from the past happening in the future. These standards do nothing to help our students make a better future.

Kayla Ohleen: I’m not sure who was part of this committee, but it would seem it was clearly NOT many educators. Anyone who’s taught would be aware that these new proposed standards are not age appropriate. It gives me serious qualms about sending my own children to public school, or for that matter, continuing to teach in a public school if this is what our state expects. Very disappointing to say the least.

Kathleen Petersen: Overall Elementary is very developmentally inappropriate. The expectations aren’t reasonable and the variety of content is ridiculous. This is not reasonable for any elementary child.

Alissa Koens: These standards do not push for a higher order of thinking for learners to practice and master. Memorizing documents seems inappropriate for elementary age levels when they are just learning the history of our own country and the world around them. Personally growing up in South Dakota, Brookings specifically, I had to memorize US documents in high school courses on government.

Chelsea Murphy: These standards are not age appropriate and have eliminated so many important concepts that we have taught in the past as well.

Alexis Bohn: This content is above and beyond their capability at the elementary education level.

Elizabeth Ekeland: I oppose the changes in content standards for social studies. Governor Noem is afraid of a “woke” population of students – well, knowing your history is not “woke.” It is essential to each and every child to have critical thinking skills and to question and know our history- otherwise we are doomed to repeat it!

Susan Turnpseed (retired): I taught in South Dakota schools for close to 40 years before retiring in 2015. During that time I served on numerous district and state committees to review and propose curriculum and standards. Never in all those years did I see anything like these proposed standards. I am shocked! I cannot believe that any educator currently teaching would find them to be appropriate. What would be expected of our learners in the elementary grades is inappropriate for their developmental stages. The standards set students for failure as the vast majority cannot possible to attain them. For what purpose would you require a 1st grader to recite the Preamble or lines of the Declaration of Independence when much of the vocabulary is far above their developmental level? To whom does it seem reasonable that a 2nd grader know about the fall of Rome and the Middle Ages? I find it hard to believe that anyone working in the state capitol and state legislature could explain the causes, warfare, and effects of the Persian Wars, including the battles of Marathon and Thermopylae as is required of a 3rd grader. Can the governor recite these lines from memory as is required of a 4th grader – “When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation. We hold these truths to be self- evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.—That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,—That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it…”

Who are the individuals that wrote these standards? Do any other work with K-5 students on a daily basis? If they did, they would understand how developmentally inappropriate these standards are for K-5 learners. The amount of classroom time needed to attempt to teach these standards would diminish the time spent on literacy, math, and science instruction. Far too much is required and far too many of the standards are inappropriate. As was done with a previous version of the proposed Social Studies standards, these should be thrown out and redeveloped with the assistance of actual SOUTH DAKOTA classroom teachers.

These standards set up our learners and educators for failure. I hope and pray that is not the intended goal.

Alex Johnson: As a whole, these standards are not age-appropriate and are not in the students’ best interests. Early elementary cannot memorize the amount of content seemingly required of them, and there does not seem to be any mention of state-specific history. These standards are check boxes, not concepts to master. If implemented, these standards will fail our children and put them behind their peers across the nation. Stop allowing people to push agendas into classrooms and let teachers teach.

Stacie Tschetter: These standards are a mile wide and an inch deep. They are totally unrealistic and developmentally inappropriate. Given the rigor in our current math, language arts, writing, and science standards, all of which we are tested on, there is no realistic way to teach even a fraction of these standards.

Melissa Meidinger: I am game for pushing kids to achieve great expectations, but they NEED to be expectations they can reach. These proposed standards are quite ridiculous and NOT age appropriate!

Jennifer Macziewski: I sincerely wish for you to take the outcry about these standards seriously. Please understand that the educators and parents in South Dakota want to be a part of these process. We agree that our state and country history is vitally important for our future but these standards will not help us reach the goals set forth. These standards will drive educators away, crush students’ self-esteem, and traumatize our youngest learners.

The content is relevant but grossly misplaced. The learning is relevant, but not sequenced as written. The concepts deserve deep thinking and primary students can’t think deeper than themselves.

Educational pedagogy and best practice was not included in creating this document. Restart with educators and parents involved. We have to find a way to come together for our youth – this document is not what our state needs.

Our current reality has parents knocking down the doors of our school demanding a say in what and how things are taught. This would put a target on every South Dakota teachers back. The uproar will be the crayon that breaks the teachers’ backs. South Dakota education will never come back from this.

There is professional development and curriculum guides coming? How much is that going to cost our tax payers? When will teachers complete this professional development AND plan for age appropriate delivery of content. At what cost?


Jamie Healy: I am at a loss for words to express how deeply concerned I am with these proposed Social Studies standards. The majority of the standards for the Elementary level are developmentally inappropriate. These standards ignore best teaching practices, blooms taxonomy and do little to help students learn how to think critically. Not to mention taking the fun out of learning history due to each grade level being required to recite from memory historical documents (which in elementary they will not be able to comprehend).

Caron de la Montanya: Too many lofty goals for primary students. Please reconsider most of the world standards. Many don’t even know their address or a phone number for a parent.

Lachelle Olivier: These proposals are highly ridiculous in two ways.

  1. What you expect students to learn and retain at the ages listed.
  2. That you think teachers have enough time in the day to teach all of these to understanding.

I cannot believe that you expect a 1st grader to do, when most adults and even our president cannot do!!

Go back to allowing educators tweak the standards. This is one area Gov. Noem has overstepped!!

Diane Reyelts: The elementary level standards are not based on what is developmentally appropriate for young children. It seems as if the standards were written without input from those within the field of education and/or individuals with first-hand understanding of what is realistic for developing brains.

Using chronological and temporal terms such as in the future, present, past; this week or last week, is not something most five-year-olds are able to grasp, much less incorporate into a narrative. Children at this age are most capable of living in the “here and now”. With all the growth and development happening rapidly in their brains, the concept of past and future needs refining. It is unrealistic that an average 6-year-old (typical age for first grade) would be able to recite the Preamble of the Constitution. Their memories are not built for that. Some children go to first grade still trying to remember their letters, numbers, beginning sight words and to progress with the curriculum need to continuously learn new strategies for reading, adding, and recalling the meaning and correct usage of key vocabulary used typically in their daily environment. Thus, memorizing the Preamble, lines from the Declaration of Independence and any words that are well above their current level of vocabulary is not realistic.

What meaning is there in very young elementary children to learn about ancient and foreign countries? Again, it is not developmentally appropriate for them to connect a place far away with events that are so unfamiliar to them in a way that is meaningful and retained for the spiraling up that the standards intend. These standards are barely “loosely-aligned” with what a variety of textbooks cover in the elementary grades. This does not suggest that South Dakota standards need to follow a scope and sequence of a textbook, by any means. However, textbooks are designed with concepts that make sense with children at their age/grade and with the “depth” that is appropriate for a child to retain. They are created based on what is developmentally appropriate for a child–which is what is effective for teaching and learning.

Children (and school staff) are already so overtaxed with learning all that is essential to navigate in their world, the next grade, in social circles, etc. As a parent, it would be very disappointing to have my own children frustrated with expectations to master these concepts that are not within their own capacity to even understand.

We have high schoolers graduating and meeting the current standards without knowledge or understanding of some of the concepts expected in the elementary years by these new standards. If nothing else makes sense with the discussion of developmentally appropriate practices, I would hope individuals within the Department of Education can clearly see this disconnect as a significant concern.

Thank you for the opportunity to share comments from the perspective of a professional educator and parent.

Lori Jackson: Do not reflect a real understanding of development levels, the teaching day, or reasonable expectation of both teachers and students. Do seem heavily biased towards a while nationalist world view. Complete insanity reigns and Kristi is the queen.

Tricia Runyan: Who wrote this obviously is not an educator and has no clue what is age and developmentally appropriate. This is not realistic at all. Try getting an actual educator from grades k-12 on this team.

Rochelle Schultz: I feel like this echoes textbooks that have been in print since the ‘80s and ‘90s. It’s pretty standard material. It’s very euro-centric, even with the racial diversity standards sprinkled in. It’s missing a huge number of historical women. I suggest that the folks who were against government writing common core standards (10 years ago) had a valid point.

These standards, as written, are woefully age inappropriate. Teachers are best equipped to write lesson plans and create pacing calendars that are best for their students.

Teachers really should earn extra compensation if they wind up required to attend trainings on this. They know the material already.

Sherry Olson: This whole process is Noem’s political games. It’s disgraceful that the original group’s work was not used and was replaced by this disaster. It’s not written or supported by educators in public schools. This would require writing completely new curriculum for our entire state (because such doesn’t already exist because these standards are laughably insane). So purchase the curriculum, purchase all the materials to support it, and train the teachers. K-12. In every school in the state. Please listen to the few educators on this committee and the hundreds, hopefully thousands you’re hearing from about this. Do not let politics infiltrate and destroy public education in our great state. Respect educators as the professionals they are, listen to their expertise, and stop this madness. You’re only going to hurt our children.

Donovan Soulek: There are way too many standards in each section. I recently received a history minor in college. I learned most of the proposed standards in college. How do you expect elementary students to know this? Get rid of memorizing any famous speeches or writing. It should be about talking about it and learning why it is important instead of the stress of memorizing it. Most adults cannot memorize speeches or writings. I got very sick and disappointed when I read the kindergarten and first grade standards. I think you all need to reread it and think can a 5-7 year old do this? If these proposed standards go through many teachers will not back this and/or want to teach this. Student who normally love social studies will grow to hate them because of the pressure. The standards should be learning about how to be a good citizen, US history and how it affects us today, world history and how it affects us today, geography, learning about our government and how it is different from past and present governments, and how we can learn from mistakes or great events in history. These “proposed standards” are a joke. I have taught and had experience in many grades and these “standards” are not grade level appropriate. If you want these standards to go through I think the people that wrote them should have to “test teach” them. Then they would realize what a bad decision they made. Proposing these right when school is starting is not a good idea.

Maggi Soulek: I would really like to know whose idea this was and why educators are being undermined on the abilities and developmental appropriateness of the students that we work with every day. I also find it interesting that these are being proposed at the same time that school is starting and teachers already have a lot on their plates.

These standards are far too extensive for one grade level. It would be improbable for a teacher to be able to meet all these standards effectively in one school year. Furthermore, expecting students to recite historical documents is not a good indication of their knowledge. You can memorize things but that doesn’t mean that you have learned about the significance of it or the impact that is has on today. Expecting a 1st grader to recite the preamble of the constitution is ridiculous, especially since most adults cannot do this and would need to look it up. Also, the vocabulary in the preamble is far above the vocabulary of a 6-7 year old.

These standards are a joke and it is clear that educators and the needs of South Dakota students are not being thought of with these “proposed” standards.

Christen Hildebrandt: These standards do not seem to understand what is developmentally appropriate in elementary school. Geography has been turned into find a country and no study of other cultures. 9-12 the standards are demanding more than we can cover in the time we have with students and it is asking students to regurgitate facts and not develop high order thinking skills.

Susan Homer (retired): So wrong in so many ways – no local control, no expert input, no truths, one sided thinking, no local input, where is the history of our state & our people, – memorize things without meaning is worthless, inappropriate teachings at an early age – children at a young age need to learn about their community & state, they need to learn & understand “their” community, so much more. This was written by people out of state & controlled by Gov Noem – should be controlled by a group of SDak educators from all parts of the state & all grade levels. Huge disappointment!

Krista Kirst (former): These standards are truly atrocious. The lack of knowledge about children and their development is absurd. The mentality used to create this is honestly one of the reasons that I had to leave teaching in SD. The writing on the wall was there and now it is clear. I am deeply saddened by what has been proposed. The lack of knowledge and experience in the field truly shows. Our students deserve better.

Joy Berg: As an educator for over 20 years, I am completely disheartened and enraged by these standards. They are completely ridiculous and embarrassing. First graders reciting the preamble? Come on. These are not developmentally appropriate or sensible. I will go public with this nonsense. As a parent, I am appalled. Get teachers in this group and stop the CRT rhetoric.

Nikki Dawson: Overall, many of the proposed standards are not developmentally appropriate. Many of the proposed elementary standards are currently taught at a middle school and/or high school level, and some of the proposed middle school standards are taught at the high school level. It would also be nearly impossible to teach all of these standards thoroughly in a school year.

Kyla Schuster: These standards, specifically elementary, are unrealistic, unethical, and impossible to realistically follow. Please listen to actual educators who are working with the youth in South Dakota. They are the people who should be crafting the expectations of these children.

Sarah Bertsch: This is worst revision possible. Any educator looking at these can tell they are not age appropriate. Think of all the kids who missed years because of covid and not handling the switch back. You had hardly any educators on the committee. Focus on the kids and not what you think is best. Kids will never get to chance of gaining higher skills if you expect too much out of them at younger ages. Let them be kids and enjoy what they are learning. Tell me how many of you could have done these at that age.

Cheryl Prunty: These standards are ridiculous. I can’t imagine any current classroom instructor agreeing with these standards. Also bring back Native American history. I am Caucasian but they were here first. They have a right to have a truthful account of their past in SD taught in our state.

Andrea Stanoshek: [repeats Charla O’Dea]

Jenny Barthel: These standards are not developmentally appropriate for K-5. More educators need to be involved in this process. This is our profession. Please respect our input.

Morgan Bobzien: Maybe talk to some actual teachers about what you are proposing. No teacher in their right mind even has the time in a year to teach all of these things. Everything listed, in no way, shape or form, is in the correct grade level. Teachers should be the people you are hiring to write these standards.

Caitlin Podoll: I am an English teacher and mother. I am appalled at what is proposed for students at such an early age. Many of these standards are not only developmentally inappropriate, they are micromanaging how a teacher runs their classroom. What is the purpose of memorization if the students are too young to even understand what they are saying? What is wrong with having a debate on a divisive issue that is monitored by a neutral instructor? Students are bombarded with rhetoric all day through various media sources, and we need to prepare them for opposing ideas. Educators should be at the heart of the standards process. This is telling all South Dakota Educators that we don’t know what is best for our students, but people who work outside of education do.

Kim Biel: What you are expecting students to learn is unbelievable. Get your input from educators that are in the classroom. What about the history of South Dakota? Your standards are unrealistic. DO NOT pass these standards. You may possibly lose educators because of this. Try again!!

Beth Severson: These are ridiculously organized and advanced. I am disappointed in the reworking of these standards with so little input from a wide range of educators and parents. This is not helping students understand civics or history.

Remember, these 36,000 words are just the comments from people identified as educators, not parents and other interested citizens. These 36,000 words also come just from the “Proposed Social Studies Standards Overall” comment field; there are 13 more fields where the above commenters could and often did leave grade- or discipline-specific comments.

The members of the Board of Education Standards—Becky Guffin, Phyllis Heineman, Rich Meyer, Terry Nebelsick, Linda Olsen, Julie Westra, and Steve Willard—probably won’t be able to read all of those comments (certainly not from that horribly formatted spreadsheet, not without a 27-inch screen!) before Monday’s meeting. But remember: the Board won’t make a final ruling on the proposed standards for a few more months, until they’ve conducted their four mandatory public hearings. So they have plenty of time to read… and the 9,000+ teachers who haven’t commented yet have plenty of time to read the Hillsdale standards and the comments of their colleagues above and submit their written comment as well.


  1. P. Aitch 2022-09-17

    How self-consumed and arrogant would a Governor or Legislature be to quickly dismiss those 36K words with a “biased liberals” brush?

  2. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2022-09-17

    Note the comment from Rapid City kindergarten teacher Katie Purcella, who opens by saying she is “a Kristi Noem supporter” but says “these standards are too big for many of our children to comprehend. Exposure is important and we can and should introduce historical figures, geography, civics, world events….however the elementary standards are not age or developmentally appropriate. It is evident that teachers were not involved in the writing process of these standards.”

  3. DaveFN 2022-09-17

    In light of these teacher comments is Noem asking herself “my goodness, how do we go about getting these teachers on-board?”

    Or is this time-wasting and expensive process simply part of a larger charade in which Noem will reply “Our South Dakotans spoke, and I heard them” before she ditches this agenda?

    No matter which, but specifically in the case of the latter charade, one would hope these teachers would take their concern to the voting booth and vote Smith.

    Thanks for publishing all this, Cory. Delayed my AM bicycle ride.

  4. All Mammal 2022-09-17

    I must have lollygagged and not taken into account the East/West river time difference and submitted mine too late in the afternoon yesterday. Bummer.
    Thank you to everyone submitting their opposition to the standards. You’d think there is plenty of Nays to scrap the Hillsdingdongdale farce.

  5. CK 2022-09-17

    So quite a few of the “educators” in complete support of the standards are not listed on SDteacher411.

    Coincidence? I think not.

  6. grudznick 2022-09-17

    That is just a hideously long blogging, now the 6th consecutive one about those fellows from Hillsdale, which sounds like a suburb of Piedmont. It took grudznick a very long time to read and analyze it. They should have required those people claiming to be teachers to disclose their independently verified position on the Seven Indisputable Levels of Teachers (SILT).

    That would let us cross tab the SILT level with the buckets of comments. For instance, Ms. Bertsch is a known quantity on the SILT scale, and while Mr. Harens used to be in the top levels of the SILT back in the day he is now retired and out of touch with todays students and should be docked one level, at least.

    And that young lady from Custer, why she is just a loose cannon with a grudge against her principal.

  7. DaveFN 2022-09-17


    Did a word search for Custer and I find no such young lady.

  8. Arlo Blundt 2022-09-17

    Please remember that teachers, in my view, are generally very moderate people, very interested in “fairness”, and not given to overt criticism. To see them use phrases like “absurdly impractical, ridiculous expectations, totally developmentally inappropriate,” and my favorite, just a simple “No!” and to have many teachers with a vast range of experience use these phrases, or similar characterizations over and over, is not TYPICAL of the kind of comments one could expect, when asking educators for a professional opinion. What should wake Mrs. Noem and her idealouges up is that teachers are respected in their communities by the public at large, and are often asked to confidentially share their opinion of school issues.

  9. DaveFN 2022-09-17

    Arlo Blundt

    I was surprised at the level of politesse. But perhaps that’s also why teachers in South Dakota have been trodden upon for so long.

  10. sx123 2022-09-17

    Possible record for longest DFP article? :) waiting to see how Noem et al spin this. Might say how the results prove our children are being taught by a bunch of ‘liberals’ and how it shows the curriculum must be changed despite lack of support by all the ‘liberals’. She tried, but ‘liberal” educators blocked it, yada yada Mark it.

  11. Arlo Blundt 2022-09-17

    DaveFN-South Dakota is resolutely Republican, Conservative, and usually unengaged when it comes to state politics. I assume that this holds true among the 97% of teachers who chose to comment on the proposed Social Studies Standards. Teachers have been trod upon by the Conservative Republicans in the State Legislature for the past fifty years because…They can.

  12. Arlo Blundt 2022-09-17

    Pardon me..I should have said the 97% of social studies teachers who chose to comment negatively on the proposed social studies standards.

  13. grudznick 2022-09-17

    Mr. DaveFN, just because she doesn’t list her town correctly doesn’t mean we don’t know where she lives.

  14. DaveFN 2022-09-18

    Arlo Blundt

    So repression by the Republican powers-that-be makes teachers in South Dakota docile, at their own expense that is.

    In other words you are admitting that the system is working, to the advantage of those who suppress, that is.

    If so, such an admission gives nothing but sanction to that suppression.

  15. DaveFN 2022-09-18


    And just who is this royal “we” who knows?

  16. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2022-09-18

    Hey, we have comments from 240+ educators above. Don’t let Grudz distract you with the usual ad hominem. Let’s focus on the issues raised by actual experts in education.

  17. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2022-09-18

    sx123, you’re on the right track. Noem will spin this round expert condemnation of her efforts as more liberal attacks. Her attack dogs will call teachers liberal, lazy, unpatriotic, afraid of change, negative. Larry Arnn from Hillsdale will issue more of his attacks on teachers in general. And they will push these standards through to push more good teachers out of the profession and make room for more of the ideological lapdogs they want to indoctrinate our kids.

  18. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2022-09-18

    On length: Yes, it is problematic to put so much text in one post. But the length makes a point: I’m documenting the public comment submitted by teachers (current, former, retried) on the proposed K-12 social studies standards. The Board of Education Standards solicits such comment. The Board supposedly considers all of this comment as it considers approving or rejecting the proposed standards. The members of the Board can’t just look at the 350-page printout and say, “Too Long, Didn’t Read!” They have an obligation to review what the education experts are saying. They should review the comments of other citizens, too, but, as I argue here, we should look to the experts first.

    That’s the point of this post: to document some of that the expert testimony (and don’t forget, there is much more that I haven’t recorded here, from these teachers and from other commenters), as well as to place that expert testimony in a more readable, accessible form than the massive PDF that no one will be able to read comfortably on any device smaller than a desktop computer with a really big monitor.

    Grudz views blogging as a series of quick hits, opportunities for superficial jibes and barroom jest. I’m in blogging for the long haul.

  19. Donald Pay 2022-09-18

    Long blogging? Usually the press gives one or two positive and an equal number of negative comments when they cover such stories. It often gives the false impression that there is a rough equivalency in how people feel about an issue. I think Cory did a public service by showing the tsunami against the Noem-Hillsdale standards.

  20. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2022-09-18

    That’s exactly the point, Donald. My actual blogging, my summary of the public feedback so far, consists of roughly 500 words, which is pretty typical for a blog post. The bulk of the post simply presents some of the contents of the document in question. My summary makes clear that the expert testimony is running about 96% against the standards; anyone who wants to analyze that testimony can scroll through those comments and see for themselves the main arguments against and the handful of arguments for Hillsdale’s work.

    While I eschewed analysis of the testimony above, I’ll make some points here:

    The opposition centers around a few key themes, most of which have been mentioned in my previous blog posts:

    1. The proposed standards are not age-appropriate, especially for younger students.
    2. The standards focus on facts, not concepts, rote memorization rather than thinking skills.
    3. The standards aren’t really standards but lists of specific content.
    4. The standards are impractical and unworkable; teachers would have to crowd out lessons in reading and math and other subjects to fit all the details of these standards into the school day.
    5. The process did not involve actual South Dakota teachers and thus produced an inevitably inferior product.
    6. The standards insert Noem’s politics into social studies, doing lasting harm to our education system.

    The handful of proponents address few if any of those problems. One teacher says her children have learned all of this since kindergarten, so every child should be able to. Other proponents say the standards provide a “great foundation”, “an honest and accurate study” of “this great nation”, and create “more virtuous citizens” without “political activism” or “CRT”, yet those points are not unique: they could easily be said of the current standards and the draft standards proposed by the 46-teacher workgroup last year that Noem threw out. One teacher says she likes the standards because their specificity means “I do not have to question which standard I am teaching in class”…which again seems non-unique—the existing standards and last year’s rejected draft are even more helpful, with their anchor standards, in making clear to teachers how what they are teaching fits into the overall scheme—and sounds a little but like the teacher just wants to be told exactly what to teach so she doesn’t have do any of the hard work for developing thoughtful content herself.

    The opponent testimony expresses serious professional concerns. The meager proponent testimony sounds like superficial rah-rah pious patriotism (with a little bit of theocracy thrown in by Glenna Remington, “As a person of faith and values…” and one of Monae Johnson’s fellow Dominionists in Aglow) and false Noem bogeymannery (“I really appreciate no CRT!”—Glenna, show us where CRT pops up in the current standards).

  21. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2022-09-18

    When over 600 people submitted testimony frying the Noem Administration’s attempt to whitewash last year’s draft standards, the Governor threw out those standards and started over without even a single public hearing. The testimony on this year’s draft is running just as hot against, so perhaps the Governor is obliged to cancel tomorrow’s hearing, toss these standards, too, and start the process over for a third try.

    As Karen A. Schlekeway says above, “Third time is the charm!”

  22. grudznick 2022-09-18

    This morning, at the Conservatives with Common Sense breakfast, the Opening Rant will be about teacher entitlement, and the post-breakfast debates will be about the role out-of-state colleges should play in South Dakota policy.

    It’s going to be a lively one.

  23. RST Tribal Member 2022-09-18

    A simple social studies lesson: Re-elect Noem the proposed Hillsdale K-12 social studies standards will get implemented; as is.

    Candidate Noem isn’t going to change as she has pledged her future campaign for higher office on appealing to many future voters; more voters than what South Dakota has to offer. Look where she is campaigning for governor of South Dakota: Nevada, Texas, Florida, and other states with populations that far exceed South Dakota. That should tell South Dakota voters what is happening and going to happen if they learned anything from the social studies classes taken.

  24. Richard Schriever 2022-09-18


    Please be advised – for the uncountably high number of times – that by definition an entitlement is something that a person has earned and justly deserves.

    Your colloquial use of the term is an aberration to educated discourse.

  25. V 2022-09-18

    All Mammal, you will be able to comment at the Rapid City meeting.

    I’m proud of our S.D. teachers for commenting publicly about something they know more about than Noem, her Department of Education, Hillsdale, and those who wrote these awful standards.

    How much did this process cost the taxpayers of our state? People need to be aware of how Noem spends our money. I’d like to see the cumulative amount of waste from court cases to this.

    I think the parents who send their children to our public schools will want these standards rejected as well. I had many conversations with parents who are actively involved in what they learn and what they don’t learn.

  26. O 2022-09-18

    Grudznick, taking Richard’s correct context frame, your breakfast will be paid through your entitlement payments of Social Security.

    Politicians making a power grab for the content education has never been a good thing. Never. Only a politician making the grab would think otherwise — certainly no historian or teacher worth his or her salt would. You are so worried about “them” coming for your guns; more often “they” came for the teachers and the children and the schools first.

  27. bearcreekbat 2022-09-18

    Richard is correct that grudz is using the term “entitlement” totally incorrectly. And while Richard’s description falls within the scope of “entitlement” there is a bit more to the concept, at least from a legal standpoint.

    “Entitlement” encompasses property that state or federal laws protects, by entitling a person to retain or aquire that property, and preventing the State from taking without first offering the entitled person due process of law, which typically includes notice, and opportunity to be heard, and an independent decisionmaker (there are some nuances in what the court’s have found to satisfy the due process requirement).

    “Earning” something generally creates an entitlement to what has been earned, but there are also entitlements based not on what the recipient has earned but on the recipient’s membership in a group identified by statute as having a legal right to obtain that property. Whether the personm “deserves” that property is typically a matter of opinion based on partyicular values.

  28. RST Tribal Member 2022-09-18

    A simple social studies lesson: Re-elect Noem the proposed Hillsdale K-12 social studies standards will get implemented, in same form and fashion.

    Candidate Noem isn’t going to change as she has pledged her future campaign for higher office on appealing to many future voters, these standards are a piece of the political landscape. Candidate Noem needs more voters than what South Dakota has to offer. Look where she is campaigning for governor of South Dakota: Nevada, Texas, Florida, and other states with populations that far exceed South Dakota. That should tell South Dakota voters what is happening and going to happen if they remember anything from the social studies classes taken.

  29. RST Tribal Member 2022-09-18

    A simple social studies lesson: Re-elect Noem the proposed Hillsdale K-12 social studies standards will get implemented, in same form and fashion.

    Candidate Noem isn’t going to change as she has pledged her future campaign for higher office on appealing to many future voters, these standards are a piece of the political landscape. Candidate Noem needs more voters than what South Dakota has to offer. Look where she is campaigning for governor of South Dakota: Nevada, Texas, Florida, and other states with populations that far exceed South Dakota. That should tell South Dakota voters what is happening and going to happen if they remember anything from the social studies classes taken.

    Will once be enough?

  30. grudznick 2022-09-18

    Social Studies are the classes most students just skip. They are very boring. Maybe this will liven them up and put a little “sexiness” back into school, like the old days.

  31. All Mammal 2022-09-18

    V- I plan on being that laser-eyed, 6’ peacekeeper in the back at the Rapid City meeting. I will be a face the commenters/activists can look at and draw confidence from. When necessary, my expression will be cold as a polar bear’s toenails. Warfare in polite society is delicate, and oh so intentional. We can’t afford defeat. It is imperative we hold this line. See you there.

    I cannot wait for a good governor to represent our state. What a concept. I heard Rapid City mayor Allender is not running in the next race. He said he will not do another term even if there isn’t another candidate running. I hope Stan Adelstein considers running.

  32. Kim 2022-09-18

    Thank you for taking the time to go through and summarize this, amazing work!!

  33. Richard Schriever 2022-09-18

    grudz – you completely miss the content of the standards and practices being discussed here. They are about incorporating or interweaving social studies principles and concepts into NUMEROUS “other areas” of instruction. Including things like economics, history, sociology, current events, speech, communications, music ……… etc. etc.

    You are stuck with your good old days of narrowed subject matter instruction – rote memorization of test question answers method of “education”. Your framing is a reflection of precisely what the Hillsdale “standards” reflect. Learning where the lane lines are and how to stay inside them. period. I.E., the “training to perform” approach to education – not the learning to learn and to think approach.

    Good dog! Here’s your treat.

  34. Joe 2022-09-19

    I have known Alan Baskerville since we were kids in Rapid. Super smart guy. As his wont he is being VERY diplomatic in his response here.

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