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Public Comment 9 to 1 Against Hillsdale Standards; Second Educator on Commission Declares Opposition, Says Commission Never Voted to Approve Proposal

The Board of Education Standards public hearing on Hillsdale’s radical social studies standards today in Aberdeen offers two notable pieces of news.

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.

Dr. Samantha Walder, principal, opponent of proposed social studies standards that her commission supposedly approved.
Dr. Samantha Walder, principal, opponent of proposed social studies standards that her commission supposedly approved.

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.


  1. grudznick 2022-09-19

    This Hillsdale business, as entertaining as the all-engulfing bloggings have become, is going to rot the minds of many. Has it occurred to any of you fellows who like to lash out based on your social psychology of extremist political stances that perhaps the entire Hillsdale business is designed to keep you focused on that shiny object, when the real heinous objects are sneaking up behind all of us?

  2. Dicta 2022-09-19

    It appears your mind is rotting, bud. Educators and commissions are responding to something that directly impacts them. Is your assertion that reading and commenting about it somehow distracts readers here from other work? The blog you are responding to shows how dumb your claim is.

    Not your best work, Grudz.

  3. Arlo Blundt 2022-09-19

    Is Grudznick slipping into his dotage or is it just his wistful Labido, his fantasy of rescuing Governor Noem from her political foes, and carrying her off to commune with his goats, just erupting.

  4. P. Aitch 2022-09-19

    The public isn’t smart enough to understand the Hillsdale standards so what they conclude means nothing. – Ian Fury’s Response before he’s said it.

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

    Grudz, a proposed reform of K-12 social studies education that will do lasting damage to South Dakota children’s learning, public schools, and the teacher workforce, not to mention promoting the ideological agenda of a right-wing Michigan college and its well-connected backers, warrants a great deal of attention.

    This standards process epitomizes the Noem Administration’s commitment to putting ideology and her personal political aspirations above practical policy, local expertise, and public participation.

  6. Donald Pay 2022-09-20

    I suggest two options for the educators on that panel: (1) make as much noise (respectfully) through the process as you can, and then resign from the panel, or (2) make as much noise (respectfully) through the process as you can, and then write a minority report. It’s clear that panel is just window dressing, the goal being to destroy public education.

  7. All Mammal 2022-09-20

    Burning books, subjugating women, and erasing history is where we’re at. I cannot put this pile in the kids’ laps. I am offering any services those with too much to lose are unable to provide. Aim me and pull the trigger…. this next election decides between life or watching shadows on the wall.

  8. Arlo Blundt 2022-09-20

    Read about the Aberdeen “Hearing” before the Standards Board in the Argus leader. The room was packed but only about 30 of the “anti” speakers had time to testify. The Noem administration packed the agenda with minions from the Department of Education, led by State Board member Ben Jones, Director of the Heritage Center, testifying about how wonderful the Standards written by Hillsdale College are. The “antis” led by the articulate and knowledgeable Principal of Tea Elementary, testified as to the age inappropriate, non developmental, rote learning prescribed in the proposed Standards. There is another “Hearing” scheduled for Sioux Falls, soon.

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