First, Department of Education official Shannon Malone said the written comment submitted as of Friday, September 16 consisted of 707 Web submissions, emails, and letters, including 67 statements of support for the Hillsdale standards and 615 statements against. Take out the roughly 240 comments from teachers present whose comments I tallied and reported Saturday—10 for, over 230 against—and non-educator opinion is running 57 in favor and 385 opposed. The 9-to-1 opposition among all commenters and the 7-to-1 opposition among non-educators is not quite as profound a split as the 23-to-1 opposition among K-12 professionals, but when the best showing the Hillsdale standards can get is 13% support, it should be clear that Hillsdale is selling us an inferior product.
Not even the educators on the standards commission are supporting the Hillsdale’s proposed social studies standards. In oral testimony to the Board of Education Standards today, Tea Legacy Elementary principal Dr. Samantha Walder confirmed what fellow commission member and Rapid City social studies teacher Shaun Nielsen told the Associated Press last week: members of the commission received a large packet in the mail, before the commission began meeting, containing a full set of pre-written social studies standards.
Walder told the board that the standards, sent out by Hillsdale College professor emeritus and commission consultant William Morrisey, diverted the commission from reviewing and building on the existing K-12 social studies standards and instead “reduced the commission to essentially proofreading or randomly interjecting content to a bulleted list of exhaustive curriculum topics.” Walder said the Governor’s chief of staff Mark Miller was in charge of approving any changes, not Secretary of Education Tiffany Sanderson.
Walder said she asked Miller and Morrisey to speak with elementary principals at other schools that have adopted Hillsdale’s “classical” education model to get perspective on how those schools make such voluminous standards work. Instead, Walder said she was directed to speak with Jordan Adams, a Hillsdale civics education specialist who was involved in reviewing Florida’s math textbooks for “woke content”. Adams said principals using Hillsdale’s materials wouldn’t speak with her and claimed the schedules for instruction were proprietary.
Dr. Walder said she cannot support the proposed standards because “the commission never voted on any full documents being circulated” by the Department of Education.
Read that again: the commission empaneled to prepare and approve new draft K-12 social studies standards never voted to approve the draft standards before us. When the Governor picked her new standards commission in April, the Department of Education said, “Once approved by the commission, the draft standards will be open to public review, which includes four hearings at locations around the state.” But commission member Dr. Samantha Walder says the commission never voted to approve these standards.
With Walder now joining Nielsen in revealing how the commission actually worked—or didn’t—in writing and approving—or not—the proposed standards, we now have the only two practicing South Dakota K-12 educators on the commission opposing the radical standards the Governor appointed them to review.
Related Unscientific Polling: During his testimony, School Administrators of South Dakota exec Rob Monson asked audience members attending the BOES hearing in the Dakota Event Center to stand if they oppose the Hillsdale standards. A South Dakota Education Association observer says 75% of the 200-strong crowd stood.