Dr. Steve Willard, superintendent of the Belle Fourche school district and one of the only two Board of Education Standards members who voted against Governor Kristi Noem’s destructive Hillsdale rewrite of South Dakota’s K-12 social studies standards, quit the board yesterday:
The South Dakota Board of Education Standards has another vacancy.
Steve Willard resigned Monday. The Belle Fourche school district superintendent made the announcement at the end of the morning meeting. It took effect immediately.
“I do not have the time to do this board justice,” Willard said [Bob Mercer, “Willard Quits SD Board of Education Standards,” KELO-TV, 2023.05.22].
In his brief statement to the board before adjournment, Willard said he is resigning for “personal reasons”. Willard thanked Governor Noem for appointing him to the board in 2021. He also thanked former board presidents Jacqueline Sly and Becky Guffin (whom Noem surprisingly replaced during the social studies standards rewrite) and current board president Terry Nebelsick (the other nay on the Hillsdale standards) “for their leadership and dedication to education in South Dakota.” Willard said, “This board will have many challenges in the future as we’ve seen today and I wish everyone the best of luck.”
Willard was part of a minority of the Board of Education Standards who is actually certified to work in South Dakota’s public schools. Willard’s three-year term was to end this December. Willard’s departure gives Governor Noem another opportunity to replace a strong public-schools advocate with a Republican political crony dedicated to destroying public education.