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Education Department Rewrites Social Studies Standards Again; Board Must Delay Final Vote Until August

Education Secretary Joe Graves was on the news spinning our attention away from the broken process that produced the broken draft K-12 social studies standards because his department just issued a new revision of those standards. We’re up to four versions now:

  1. The original and only tolerable draft, composed by actual teachers in summer 2021.
  2. The hasty whitewashing the Department of Education churned out in August 2021.
  3. The Hillsdale College version written by Professor William Morrisey and published in August 2022.
  4. The latest DOE revision posted January 13, 2023.

The January 13 changes attempt primarily to remedy the Hillsdale/Morrisey draft’s neglect of geography, a glaring problem that original social studies workgroup member Paul Harens and retired Aberdeen geography teacher Kurt Drube spotlighted in their public comments and that the South Dakota Education Association pointed out back in September. I have some reading to do before I can assess how well the January 13 draft restores the hard work South Dakota’s teachers have done over the years to integrate a modern and rigorous study of geography into their students’ learning.

However, this significant revision of the standards would seem to call for a restart of the entire public hearing process.

South Dakota Codified Law 13-3-89 requires the Board of Education Standards to hold four public hearings over at least a six-month period on any new curriculum standards:

The Board of Education Standards, prior to adopting content standards pursuant to § 13-3-48, shall conduct, over a period of no less than six months, at least four public hearings. The purpose of the hearings is to give members of the public the opportunity to provide input to the board on whether the standards being proposed should be adopted and implemented in South Dakota. The board shall conduct at least one of the public hearings in each of the following cities: Aberdeen, Pierre, Rapid City, and Sioux Falls. No public hearing required pursuant to this section is valid unless a quorum of the board is physically present at each of these public hearings [SDCL 13-3-89, adopted 2012, last amended 2017].

The board has held two hearings so far, in September in Aberdeen and in November in Sioux Falls. Those hearings discussed the August 2022 draft standards. The board has scheduled two more hearings, in February in Rapid City and in April in Pierre. Those hearings will evidently discuss the January 2023 draft.

The K-12 social studies standards now being proposed, the January 2023 draft, have not yet had public hearings in Aberdeen or in Sioux Falls. The standards being proposed only have two scheduled hearings in two of the statutorily mandated cities over a period of less than three months. Secretary Graves tells KELO-TV that it is likely the Board of Education Standards will vote on the social studies standards at the April meeting, but state law forbids the board from voting on standards proposed in January 2023 just three months later. State law requires that the Board of Education Standards schedule two more hearings, one in Aberdeen, one in Sioux Falls, to take public input on the standards being proposed as of January 13, 2023. State law requires that, since the first hearing on the standards now being proposed is scheduled for February 10, the fourth and final hearing on those standards cannot take place earlier than August 10.

That necessary statutory delay is actually all fine and good. August is a busy month for teachers, but if the board will do us the favor of scheduling one of the meetings for June (later June, to avoid conflicts with all the make-up days schools will be doing for snow days!) or July, teachers will finally have at least one hearing they can attend without missing a school day.


  1. e platypus onion 2023-01-20 08:14

    Patently obvious that worst problem public education faced/es is constant meddling by racist magats who decided decades ago to destroy public education and defund it at the same time. They have always wanted to replace the public schoiols with private/religious schools in order to indoctrinate America’s children with religious and corporate garbage thinking.,

  2. Richard Schriever 2023-01-20 09:01

    Graves will railroad this through – illegally – having already proclaimed the process is flawed but should be ignored in favor of an outcome, any outcome it seems. Or he can lose his job. Or maybe both. This is how the farm subsidy welfare queendom works.

  3. Donald Pay 2023-01-20 09:05

    Cory, do you really expect Noem’s team to follow state law? I mean, really? That’s expecting quite a lot from Queen Kristi and her court of merry jesters. Be prepared for them to ignore the statutes. Someone will need to sue to make them follow state law.

    That statute is pretty clear, even if it is bad government. This statute provides no way to get around the “four meeting, six-month” rule. It says nothing about revising the proposed standards in the middle of the hearing process. In most similar governmental processes, there is a way for a board to revise the proposal as it progresses through the hearing process or at the end. In the case of educational standards, revision is not provided for.

    I suspect before this statute was enacted in 2012, the Board acted on proposed revisions as all other government boards do, which is to revise as necessary during or after public hearings. This statute does not allow that.

  4. P. Aitch 2023-01-20 14:45

    “We’re not dumb! We just know different things than you know. Now we’re going to teach the things we know to your children.” – The Hilldale Connies

  5. Mark Anderson 2023-01-20 21:21

    The dumbing down of the SD children. It’s a Republican thing. Children are smart, now, and especially now, they will easily check on this.

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