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Opponents to Hillsdale Standards Outnumber Proponents at Second Hearing; Noem’s Reëlection Portends Board Rubber Stamp?

The Board of Education Standards held its second hearing on the radical Hillsdale College social studies standards that Governor Kristi Noem wants to impose on South Dakota students and teachers. Once again, opponents outnumbered proponents both on the registered speaker roster and in the audience. Once again, proponent testimony came mostly from Noem flunkies, Republican politicians, and out-of-state interests, plus conservative cranks like Penny Baybridge and Steve Sibson, while opposition came mostly from South Dakota educators and parents who will have to help kids through these impractical, costly, harmful standards and Indian leaders who recognize the unseemly white supremacy baked into these standards by Hillsdale College at Donald Trump’s behest.

The board yesterday announced that the last two hearings on the Hillsdale standards will take place Saturday, February 11, in Pierre and Monday, April 17, in Rapid City. The Board won’t vote to approve or reject the Hillsdale standards until after that fourth hearing.

But I have to wonder: given Governor Noem’s reëlection by 62% to 35% to 3%, will two more rounds of vocal, homegrown, well-reasoned opposition stop the board from rubber-stamping the Governor’s bad standards? I hate to be a pessimist, but we’ve seen the Governor hijack the normal standards-writing procedure, dismiss the work of South Dakota educators in favor of out-of-state ideologues, and turn out social studies curriculum into a political prop in Hillsdale’s war against public schools and her own national campaign and suffer no consequences at the polls. Voters ignored teachers as much as Noem has and rewarded Noem with another four years of unchecked power by a larger margin than they elected her in 2018. Noem is stacking the Board of Education Standards in her favor, and she’ll get to throw another conservative flunky on the board this winter when Aberdeen superintendent Dr. Becky Guffin’s term ends. Noem has not just political capital but electoral carte blanche to demand whatever she wants from this board and pretty much every other state entity and get it.

Honest, conscientious educators, parents, and other South Dakotans need to continue to lay out the multi-pronged case on the Hillsdale standards. We must document and resist what harm Governor Noem is doing to public education. But the South Dakota electorate’s warm embrace of Governor Noem’s malfeasance indicates that resistance will not stop the adoption of these standards and the white-washing of South Dakota K-12 social studies education.

5 Comments

  1. M 2022-11-22 06:27

    There will be a huge shortage of social studies teachers next year. It’s the subject area that tyrants and fascists despise in a free educational system. They want an illiterate and uneducated population that believes what you tell them, not what is. Burn the books, close down the libraries, attack public education, and have Secretary of State Pompeo call the teachers’ union president the most dangerous person on earth, and see what nuts pop out of the woodwork next.

  2. Donald Pay 2022-11-22 12:20

    Well, it depends on whether the Board consists of people who are honest about their duties or just ciphers choosing the role of rubber stamp, doesn’t it? Once you get appointed by the Governor to a position, it doesn’t mean the Governor owns you. You take an oath, and you need to take it seriously. Governor Mickelson appointed me to the committee that evaluated the Cumulative Environmental Evaluation of surface gold mining. I didn’t just sit there being a non-entity. I pushed and pushed for a much broader study, one that considered water quality impacts. When that failed to muster the necessary votes on the committee, I submitted a minority report. Had the committee followed my advice, we might have been able to avoid the Gilt Edge Superfund Site.

    I think advancing these standards are far, far worse than a Superfund site. Once you destroy public education you have tossed the future of thousands of children in the dumpster. These standards are not simply unworkable. They aren’t really standards. The best thing the board could do is turn them down and advance the previous standards. If the board members take their job seriously they have no other choice.

  3. Arlo Blundt 2022-11-22 16:15

    Despite Governor Noem’s dominance and determination to turn the clock back 100 years, it is good to fight the good fight. Truth ultimately prevails. Schools have an innate ability to absorb the attacks from the outside and humanely adapt these inane, nonsensical requirements to more appropriately meet the needs and learning readiness of children. That resiliency of schools seems to be one of the things the whackadoodles from the far right hate about public education. It is our school’s saving grace.

  4. larry kurtz 2022-11-24 08:19

    Sibby’s deep personal damage has long lent the notion that he would be one to open fire on a classroom in the name of his god.

    A perennial loser, Sibson suffers from paranoid delusions and acute depression. Sibson’s Religionist Right is resisting parts of Common Core because the standards stress human influence on climate change, genocide of Indigenous by colonizers, gender equality and social justice but Sibson just wants control. In 2019 Sibson wrote that the Anglo-Saxon global establishment wants to destroy America but now some in his extreme white wing of the Republican Party want to restore Anglo-Saxon supremacy.

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