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Willard Quits; Board of Education Standards Loses Half of Remaining Good Sense

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.


  1. AmyB 2023-05-23 06:39

    Would anyone be surprised if she appointed one of those Moms 4 Liberty nutjobs or someone M4L adjacent? I’m so glad my kids are grown because Kristi Noem is toxic to public education and I feel bad for the kids having to deal with her meddling.

  2. Bonnie B Fairbank 2023-05-23 07:03

    Dr. Willard’s resignation statement was diplomatic. I cannot imagine the mental relief he felt upon saying ‘bye to Noem’s douchebaggy peckerheads.

  3. Mark Anderson 2023-05-23 11:13

    He should apply to New College. It’s everywhere where Republican’s are in charge folks. Go to your school board meetings if you have kids or grandkids or great grandkids. I know the demographics here.

  4. Arlo Blundt 2023-05-23 13:12

    Thank you, Dr. Willard, for your leadership in opposing the Governor’s plot to destroy public education in South Dakota. We can only hope that the people of South Dakota will wake up and come to the defense of their schools.

  5. All Mammal 2023-05-23 16:17

    Mr. Blundt- like you said, we need to open our eyes, especially when it comes to our duty to do independent research before we cast our vote. From what I saw at the last SD Social Studies Standards school board meeting in Rapid City, the people were woke. There was an entire demonstration happening that morning outside the event and a multi-purpose room full of opposition to the proposed standards, despite it being an all-day event on a work day, during the week. Going through the traditional motions were unsuccessful because the governor we elected is a tyrannical lizard. The ones who voted for the T-Rex a second time are so sleepy, they might not even have a pulse. We cannot just be awake to defend the schools. We need to recruit, support, and vote for better people before it comes down to being rendered defenseless to stop the harm to education.

  6. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2023-05-24 04:58

    Noem’s last two picks for the BOES, Rich Meyer of Rapid City and Steven Perkins of Sioux Falls, both contributed $5,000 to Stand for the Family South Dakota, a PAC formed by former School and Public Lands Commissioner and US House candidate Tim Amdahl to support hard-right candidates like Al Novstrup, Bethany Soye, Sue Peterson, Fred Deutsch, and Doug Post, the kind of people who love the Hillsdale whitewashing. Perhaps Noem will replace Willard with the other $5K donor on that roster, LeeAnn Rieman, who is also a big Noem booster.

  7. larry kurtz 2023-05-30 15:12

    This has Travis Ismay’s fingerprints all over it, too. He and his wife hosted Monae Johnson last November. This is all about intimidation and christianic dominionism.

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