KELO-TV gets the proposal the retired Michigan professor William Morrisey submitted in February to win the $200K contract to rewrite South Dakota’s K-12 social studies standards. The pitch promised to involve South Dakota educators:
It is important to bring together content experts and those with relevant experience in K-12 education to converse about the content of such standards and to inform their development. As somebody who bridges both backgrounds, I am in a unique and advantageous position for serving as the facilitator of the South Dakota Social Studies Standards Revision Commission, as members and the general public share their respective insights. I am confident that I can discharge the duties outlined in the RFP in a responsible, unbiased, and timely manner [William Morrisey, proposal for “Facilitation of the Revision of the South Dakota Social Studies Standards,” posted in Jacob Newton, “RFP from Hillsdale Professor to Revise Social Studies Standards in South Dakota,” KELO-TV, 2022.09.29].
The only two practicing South Dakota educators on the workgroup Morrisey facilitated, teacher Shaun Nielsen and principal Samantha Walder, have stated the Morrisey facilitated no such conversations. Morrisey dumped new standards written in the image of his radically conservative institution, Hillsdale College, fully formed on the workgroup before its first meeting and, as Walder said in her public testimony to the Board of Education Standards last week, “reduced the commission to essentially proofreading or randomly interjecting content to a bulleted list of exhaustive curriculum topics.”
Another task Morrisey has not completed is a report on changes from the current standards, which he listed as Deliverable F in his pitch:
While there will undoubtedly be a variety of diverse changes, the most significant adjustments warrant specific explanations of the reasons for such changes. I will compile a report detailing major adjustments and the reasoning that went into making them. This will afford the general public and the BES valuable information when reviewing the standards [Morrisey, Feb 2022].
The original social studies standards workgroup—the actual teachers who convened for the normal process of revising curriculum standards before Governor Noem decided she needed to turn K-12 social studies into a political campaign prop—included a “Notable Changes” section in their July 2021 standards draft and produced a separate document showing all of the changes from the 2015 approved standards to their 2021 draft.
Morrisey’s radical and widely panned work product includes a “Notable Adjustments” page as well, but it ignores the most notable change—the complete departure from past standards and process—and offers no rationale for completely trashing the work of generations of South Dakota teachers and replacing it with the idiosyncratic ideology of one professor from one Trumpist college.
But Governor Noem didn’t hire Professor Morrisey to tell the truth in his proposal any more than she is seeking truth in social studies standards. She just wants to reinforce the apartheidist retrenchment that is her party’s only hope of clinging to power.