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DOE Pretending Hillsdale Standards and Drafting Process Completely Normal

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.


  1. larry kurtz 2022-09-22

    What prevents Mrs. Noem from combining the Department of Education with say, Labor and Regulation or the Department of Insurance?

  2. P. Aitch 2022-09-22

    Hillsdale has a long-held reputation for discriminating on the basis of gender preference and identity, and news outlets in the LGBT community have reported incidents in which Hillsdale staff and officials openly discriminated against gay students.
    – Hillsdale College is seeking exemptions from the US Department of Education from provisions under Title IX of the laws governing higher education, which protects students from discrimination in housing, athletics, and access to facilities on the basis of such things as gender, sexual orientation, sex or pregnancy outside marriage, or having an abortion.

  3. David Newquist 2022-09-22

    Faculty unions do not represent members only in terms of compensation and negotiations with school boards, but they also are, or should be, active participants in the defining and application of professional standards. The SDEA needs to take a leadership role on this matter. The practicing educators need to assert themselves, not leave this matter left to political hackdom.

  4. Donald Pay 2022-09-22

    It reminds me of when Chem-Nuclear Systems, Inc., wrote the Dakota Low-Level Radioactive Waste Compact that would allow them to build their nuclear waste dump. Same corrupt thing. Hillsdale wants to sell millions of dollars worth of worthless curriculum and they’re writing the standards so that only they will be considered.

  5. All Mammal 2022-09-22

    -Hillsdale College, LIBERAL Arts college in Michigan-
    Hmmm.. I thought they despised those radical far-left intellectual liberal heathens? Conservatives aren’t suspicious about some liberal artsy smartsy college getting to their kids?
    I am definitely worried about Hillsdale Liberal Arts College having access to the curriculum of any child.

  6. KurtD 2022-09-22

    Corey, I would like to see you give some live public testimony in SF. 4 minutes should be enough to share the points you made in this post about how the process used is different from the past. If you have extra time you might wonder why our local legislators left without listening to the opposition. Anyway, I didn’t understand anything Al said and Carl saying he remembers that Tallahassee is the capital of Florida was not strong evidence for his argument.

  7. Mark Anderson 2022-09-22

    Teachers who know their field will teach it. If they are fired for teaching facts, a lawsuit will get you much more money than slinging the Hillsdale hash.

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