At Monday’s public hearing before the Board of Education Standards, Department of Education official Shannon Malone claimed that the process that created the proposed K-12 social studies curriculum standards currently under the board’s consideration is not that different from the process used for other curriculum standards.
Actually, the process is completely unprecedented. South Dakota’s K-12 curriculum standards have always been drafted and revised by South Dakota educators. Those educators start with existing standards and make necessary updates and changes. Never before has a South Dakota governor intervened in this process. Never before has a South Dakota governor ordered edits of the educators’ draft. Never before has a South Dakota governor canceled public hearings, scrapped the educators’ draft standards, disbanded the educators’ workgroup, and restarted the standards review process from scratch. Never before has a South Dakota governor hand-picked her own standards commission to redo the standards. Never before has a standards workgroup consisted of less than a majority of active South Dakota K-12 educators. Never before has a set of existing curriculum standards been completely ignored in the process of creating new standards. Never before has a set of curriculum standards been written entirely by one out-of-state consultant and rubber-stamped with minimal, largely superficial changes by a standards commission that never actually held a final vote on the draft submitted to the Board of Education Standards for public hearing and approval.
And never before, to my knowledge, has 90% of the public comment opposed those standards, with even stronger opposition from South Dakota educators. (Garbage in, garbage out….)
Malone was mouthing the malarkey embedded in the Department of Education’s “Frequently Asked Questions” sheet on its standards website. The second FAQ, “How were the standards developed?”, gets this treatment:
Content standards always start with a draft from which to work. Professor Morrissey provided a draft based on work by Hillsdale College, a liberal arts college in Michigan. Over the course of several meetings, commission members applied this draft to South Dakota. The group eliminated some items, added some items, and edited many others. The public comment period, which lasts more than six months, allows every South Dakotan the opportunity to weigh in, as well [South Dakota Department of Education, “Proposed Social Studies Standards 2022: Frequently Asked Questions,” updated 2022.09.12].
Well, at least the DOE admits that the standards came from Hillsdale College in Michigan. But the rest of the response reeks of dissemblage.
Content standards always start with a document, but it’s not a draft: it’s the current standards. The 2021 educator workgroup started with the current social studies standards, approved in 2015, reviewed each standard closely, and made reasonable, mappable changes. Good content standards processes start with the existing standards, determine what changes we need, and build upon the work of South Dakota educators. The proposed Hillsdale standards radically depart from the current standards and the normal standards development process to impose an outside agenda on our social studies classes.
Don’t let the Department of Education fool you: the proposed standards and the process that produced them has no precedent in South Dakota education.