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Hillsdale Standards—Pro: Noem/GOP/Hillsdale Hacks; Con: Teachers

At Monday’s public hearing on the proposed K-12 social studies standards written by right-ring Hillsdale College, the Board of Education Standards allowed 90 minutes of public testimony from proponents and 90 minutes from opponents. Individual speeches were strictly limited to four minutes; folks who tried running over were cut off by a beeper and a verbal interruption from BOES chair Dr. Becky Guffin.

But the Board ran no timer on the introductory speeches in favor of the standards given by Department of Education Secretary Tiffany Sanderson, DOE subdirector Shannon Malone, and state historian and propagandist Dr. Ben Jones. Nor did the state limit the time granted for rebuttal to Northern State University conservative professor (and candidate for Hillsdale presidency?) Dr. Jon Schaff.

In addition to those unlimited speeches from Noem appointees (Jones and Schaff were both appointed by Noem to the second social studies workgroup whose only work consisted of rubber-stamping the standards Hillsdale wrote), the Noem Administration loaded a lot of the public proponent testimony time with its political minions. Two more of Noem’s standards commission members—Hillsdale alumnus Dylan Kessler and Noem’s Indian education director Fred Osborn—took public proponent testimony slots. So did Noem’s chief of policy Rachel Oglesby, Noem’s Secretary of Tribal Relations Dave Flute, and Republican legislators Sue Peterson, Al Novstrup, and Carl Perry. Oglesby, Kessler, Flute, and Perry even crowded their way to the top of the proponent speakers’ list.

Proponent testimony also included right-wing lobbyists Florence Thompson, Tonchi Weaver, Lisa Gennaro, and Linda Schauer, plus a pitch from Hillsdale graduate and right-wing national (i.e., not a South Dakotan) columnist Joy Pullmann.

That’s 12 proponents taking up public testimony time who are either directly employed by Noem, lunching at the one-party regime trough, or serving as ringers for their alma mater to turn our schools into Hillsdale marketing centers. Those vested interested actually outnumber the 11 other members of the actual public with no overt ties to the Noem/GOP/Hillsdale machine who spoke in favor of Noem’s Hillsdale standards.

Even with those Noem/Hillsdale lapdogs doubling the number of proponent testifiers, the proponents barely had enough people to fill their 90 minutes. The board got to the end of its list of registered proponents and had to ask multiple times for any other proponent testimony before one Terry Rohl (sp?) of Aberdeen took the mic, claimed she had been “on the fence” about the standards before the hearing but was now “really excited” about them given what she’d heard from Mr. Novstrup and other proponents. (I suspect a real fence-sitter would have waited to hear opponent testimony before climbing down to one side or the other.)

Meanwhile, 27 members of the public testified against the Hillsdale standards during the 90 minutes allotted. The Board shut out eight other opponents in the room and all eight opponents waiting on Zoom, telling them they could register to speak at the November 21 hearing in Sioux Falls.

Of the 27 opponents who got to speak, 24 are current or retired South Dakota teachers or administrators. One, Tea elementary principal, Dr. Samantha Walder, is a Republican appointed by Noem to serve on the second standards commission with Jones, Schaff, Osborn, and Kessler, but she broke with her Republican colleagues to expose the standards commission as a sham political exercise with no regard for the expertise of South Dakota educators.

Monday’s public hearing time was tilted heavily in favor Noem and Hillsdale supporters. We can only hope that, now that Noem’s friends Sanderson, Jones, and Schaff have been given their special time for their speeches, the Board of Education Standards will dedicate the remaining three hearings to equal time for proponents and opponents from the actual public.

But even if we set aside the sales pitches the Board granted Team Noem for the introductory and closing speeches, the public testimony pushing the Hillsdale standards came largely from tools of the conservative political machine. The people pushing back for better (or just real, workable, responsible) social studies standards were mostly teachers, the practical experts at educating our children.


  1. All Mammal 2022-09-24 08:58

    ‘Only a virtuous people are capable of freedom. As nations become corrupt and vicious, they have more need of masters’
    -Benjamin Franklin

    So sad so many people lack ambition to learn and are cool with being slaves.

  2. P. Aitch 2022-09-24 09:54

    Passing the religious standards is easy in SD. But will the educators follow the guidelines? I well remember, which is good for an OG like me, when memorizing was most of what I did in elementary school. And I also remember the teachers in Jr. High commenting often about how we no longer had to memorize but now we were going to do analysis and learn to see both sides of history. The teachers were ecstatic about the change. Probably around 1965.

  3. John 2022-09-24 09:57

    “In the Fight of Our Lives”, Mendel shares a striking rendition of the corrupt roles played by oligarchs in Ukrainian society, and the efforts to reform, democratize Ukrainian society.

    In the US we pretend that we don’t have oligarchs, but we do.
    The defense industry oligarchs keep us at often needless wars to create their wealth.
    The pharmacy and medical and insurance oligarchs keep us ill.
    The bankers keep us poor by charging interest rates many times more than they pay for savings.
    Elections are bought by the highest bidder, thanks to an un-Supreme Court.
    Hillsdale and its apologists support the US oligarchs.

  4. Donald Pay 2022-09-24 10:18

    Yeah, what you describe there about how they skewed the time given to proponents and opponents is pretty typical of how South Dakota’s authoritarian regimes over the years have operated. Generally, they will give the entire beginning of the meeting over to the elite, meat-to-eat folks to squeeze out an hour or two of party line poop. Then they stack the meeting with paid propagandists to squeeze out the real folks who are there to give honest opinions. Saw this kind of B.S. all the time. I’d always pipe up and say, “When are you going to let the people talk, rather than let your paid hacks dominate this meeting?” I didn’t have the guts to actually disrupt the meeting, but I’d make them a bit uncomfortable.

  5. John 2022-09-24 11:06

    Andy Borowitz does a good job discussing “trickle down ignorance” i.e., the Hillsdale / Noem ways of not thinking.
    The 3 stages of ignorance are: ridicule, acceptances, and celebration.
    Profiles in Ignorance: How America’s Politiicans got Dumber and Dumber:

    “Sometimes I wonder whether the world is being run by smart people who are putting us on or by imbeciles who really mean it.” – Mark Twain

  6. grudznick 2022-09-24 11:29

    “Is there any group of people with a longer history of complaining than K-12 educators?”
    – grudznick’s granddaughter’s old boyfriend, who once was a teacher

  7. Arlo Blundt 2022-09-24 13:13

    Grudznick-Classroom teachers have a lot to complain about. In the United States of America, we the people, are allowed to complain about our boss.

  8. Donald Pay 2022-09-24 13:28

    Grudz, I would put farmers up there, and ranchers, and taxpayers. From the constant whining I’d say an orange ex-President, who will soon be perp walked to his new home behind bars, is probably top of the heap for complaining for the years 2015-2022. The Christian rightists are some of the biggest complainers about nearly everything. Apparently, they think Jesus turned the water to whine. I would put business tycoons up there, but they tend to run things, so they are complaining mostly about themselves.

  9. All Mammal 2022-09-24 15:08

    People who are waited on by others complain the most. They complain about their service. Restaurants especially. Patients in hospitals are at it constantly too. Hotels. Anytime someone’s job is to serve, they don’t meet expectations. Very far from teachers. They are the ones getting the complaints because ‘jackhammer’ parents mistakenly think teachers are their lackeys. I am using personal experience for reference. I doubt the complainers have ran their butts off for ingrates for a paycheck. On the bright side, exceptionally nice people always seem to come along and balance the scales just in time.

    If you ever need a pick me up, be that person for someone. Double whammy.

  10. P. Aitch 2022-09-24 16:04

    Project much, grudznichts?

  11. mike from iowa 2022-09-24 16:09

    Does/has Hillsdale already written the tests on this magat propaganda? What a bunch of sick minded puppies these SOBS are.

  12. mike from iowa 2022-09-24 16:17

    “Is there any group of people with a longer history of complaining than K-12 educators?” Is there any group of people with a more deserving litany of complaints than ublic school teachers in South Duhkota?

    Fixed it for Grudzillanuts.

  13. DaveFN 2022-09-24 16:29

    RE: the Dr. Ben Jones link posted by Cory:

    “Op-Ed: Let’s meet the challenge with civic education
    One of causes is the belief that learning history doesn’t need to be equipped with historical evidence, but in a skills-based model, students should think critically about history because the students can always google the facts.”

    Not at all clear to what what “causes” Dr. Jones is referring, but he appears to entertain a belief in a false dichotomy, positing skills-based against content-based pedagogy as he does.

    Knowledge acquisition remains very much part-and-parcel of any skills-based curriculum.

  14. O 2022-09-24 17:25

    Well Grudznick, you and yours are running the “complaining” k-12 teachers out of the state, so I suppose you are “winning?”

  15. Jake 2022-09-24 20:09

    grudz is sooo jealous of good teachers….

  16. Anne Beal 2022-09-24 21:40

    objections to these particular standards might be worth attending to if K-12 educators did not have a history of complaining about standards, period.
    It doesn’t matter what standards they are expected to adhere to, what benchmarks their students are expected to reach, the teachers will complain that we’re asking too much of them.

    That’s because most of them were hired for their athletic abilities, and teaching anything, history and social studies in particular, is just a side gig. The ignorance of history displayed by my own children’s teachers was astonishing to me. They knew NOTHING. Parent-teacher conferences were disheartening. My kids still don’t know anything I didn’t personally teach them.
    Finding out that a high school graduate I worked with had no idea how to figure out how many years ago 2000 BCE was lead to the discovery that my youngest child didn’t know either.

    Your children aren’t learning anything from the assorted football and basketball coaches who babysit them in their history classes. The teacher who complained about teaching the Fall of the Roman Empire to 4th graders can probably find Rome on a current map but is unlikely to be able to describe the boundaries of the empire at its zenith.
    Sorry, but not sorry. The teachers will have to learn this curriculum along with the students.

  17. Donald Pay 2022-09-24 22:00

    You know, Anne, you have a point about some coaches, but I wouldn’t lump them all together. Parents are, of course, the most important teachers, but not everyone is going to be able to teach calculus, let alone Shakespeare or why we have the 14th Amendment.

    I have to say, though, one time my daughter was having trouble with math. She had been out sick for a week and missed something, so we just decided to go under the kitchen table to do the math down there. I recall it was story problems of some kind. It got to be a nightly thing for us until she had caught up. I didn’t do much to help her out. I’d ask questions to break it down a bit. She’d say, “Daddy, this is fun—math under the table.”

  18. All Mammal 2022-09-25 02:01

    Mz. Beal- it isn’t that the teachers ever feel like they are being asked too much of. I hope that doesn’t take root in too many more made up cockamamie filled heads. Teachers will do everything asked of them until they cannot give another drop. Within reason.

    We gotta respect people who care about your whelps. And reverse the disparaging and hostile way they’re treated. Parents modeling and/or condoning any condescending treatment of teachers are breaking the code of civilized society.

    I attempted to find an instance of the mysterious complaining Karen teacher. I cannot see where any have complained or piped up without being prompted. And those were hardly as obnoxious as the ones instigating them. They were asked for their input after the standards were written. So the complaints seem to be from the likes of the defensive. The ones who would love to use the constitution for kindling to roast children’s potential on a stick. Have a lovely day.

  19. Runs_With_Fire 2022-09-25 05:56

    WOW! Out of 22 proponents only one (an elementary school principal) had the conviction to say NO this is NOT right. YOU people are F@#$ing crazy. That’s 4.5% of the NOME NATZIES who stood up and said NEIN, NO MORE lunacy.

  20. V 2022-09-25 07:02

    John, thanks for the suggestion of a winter reader.

    Anne Beal, don’t blame teachers for the positions they fill because your school board and administration handle that. Teachers have every right to stand up for what they teach and how they teach it because your children deserve the best. Parents send them their best and teachers do whatever it takes for them to learn. You should have sent your child to a blue-ribbon school through open enrollment, or you could have become more involved in teaching your children some skills before they entered school. Teachers can’t do it all.

  21. Richard Schriever 2022-09-25 08:31

    grudz, Was that a complaint? (Just following up on P Aitch’s question.)

  22. Richard Schriever 2022-09-25 08:38

    Anne Beal – I believe you should look a little closer at where the “fault” lies in whether or not your child – or any child has knowledge up to YOUR STANDARDS, and who it is that is complaining about even having standards. BTW – 1/2 of all students will learn less to average/have less to the average capacity to learn.

  23. DaveFN 2022-09-25 22:52

    Anne Beal

    Your point regarding coaches teaching history is reiterated here by Diane Ravitch, Research Professor of Education, New York University.

  24. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2022-09-26 06:09

    Anne, I don’t recall the teachers complaining about the 2021 draft standards that the teachers wrote themselves.

    Remember, I really don’t like any state standards. I oppose state standards not because they are too hard but because good teachers don’t need the government telling them what kids need to know. In that regard, I’m still a conservative who has faith in teachers to serve as responsible leaders in their communities.

    If teachers are dumb and lazy, as Anne alleges, importing standards from Hillsdale won’t change that. Those dumb and lazy teachers will teach the pedagogically inferior Hillsdale standards as poorly as they teach the current reasonably written and organized standards. If you have bad teachers in your district, Anne, then you need to tell your local administrators and school boards to do their jobs and hire qualified teachers.

  25. All Mammal 2022-09-26 07:00

    Dave Fn- if you read the article you linked, you would have caught on there is not one mention about History teachers also coaching and this is pointed out over and over in the comments beneath the writer’s short column.

    Only in the altered title of the article the word coach, coaching, coaches gets mentioned, let alone reiterated. Your link has absolutely nothing to do with Mz. Beal’s made up scare about History teachers actually being athletically inclined Gym teachers just filling in.

    I suggest glancing over the content of your links before putting them out there. Mz. Beal’s assertion and your link are emphasizing the lack of discernment and your awesome ability to read a headline that uses buzz phrases for clicks. Gotta watch out for those catchy headlines that have zilch to do with the gist of the topic. The buggers’ll get ya.

  26. Mark Anderson 2022-09-26 20:00

    You all know of course that Grudz has a teacher fetish. Grudz and Anne could get together and work it out. It’s probably that coach cheerleader thingy, but I won’t go there.

  27. Donald Pay 2022-09-27 16:14

    Joe, thanks posting that example of the racism of Hillsdale “scholars.”

  28. V 2022-09-27 19:06

    Cory, you are correct about standards. Teachers have been teaching the same concepts and ideas, along with the order in which they are introduced, taught, and mastered since the beginning. In fact, all textbooks or professional sources have a chart with the scope and sequence in the introduction. And all state standards include S & S as well, along with materials needed of course. Hillsdale fails miserably with a smooth transition between grade levels in many skills and fails consistently with professional methods in which students will learn these concepts and ideas.

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