South Dakota’s governor said she wants to see standards that reflect the state’s values
Gov. Christie Noem is pushing the reset button on South Dakota’s proposed social studies curriculum, abandoning her administration’s past standards and changing the one that prepares new ones.
Friday’s announcement comes a week after it said the amendment process would be delayed by up to a year. Noem’s office told Granthshala News that the advisor was breaking ties with Beth Rataway and the C3 framework—both controversial influences who later raised concerns about left-wing content in schools.
“I have asked the Department of Education to restart the process from the beginning,” Noam, of the Republican Party, said in a press release Friday. “I want to make sure we propose standards that accurately reflect South Dakota’s values.”
“Our children deserve to learn the true and honest history of both America and South Dakota, taught in a balanced context that does not pit our children against each other on the basis of race, gender, or background. More work needs to be done for this right, and we are committed to completing that process.”
However, Rataway’s employer, the American Institute for Research (AIR), said it was unaware of any changes in their liaison with the South Dakota Department of Education.
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“AIR is a non-partisan organization and our team worked closely with state officials on revision of social studies standards and respected the standards set by the South Dakota Department of Education at the outset of this project. A non-partisan organization, our Experts operate under the highest standards of professionalism, and any suggestion against it is completely without merit.”
Noem faced backlash from both sides, with Native Americans upset by the expulsions that favored the conservatives.
his latest move followed a Warning by Stanley Kurtz, a senior fellow at the Center for Ethics and Public Policy, about Rataway’s impact on the Department of Education as well as what he called “action-citizen-based”. C3 Framework“
Kurtz also pointed to Ratway’s video presentation on social justice, which has since been removed from YouTube. Accessed by Granthshala News via Kurtz, PowerPoint uses a lot of language reminiscent of the controversial equity training seen across America
For example, under “Connecting Social Justice and Social Studies”, Ratway’s slide reads: “We want social justice education to encourage students to critically discuss, investigate, and actively explore the reasons behind social inequalities.” and as the pedagogical practice of guiding how to perpetuate unjust institutional practices and reproduce power and privilege that have a direct impact on the lives of students.”
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She also cites Paulo Freire, a well-known advocate of “critical pedagogy”, who has been criticized by anti-CRT advocates such as James Lindsay. His association with leftist ideas does not end with his presentation. In 2020, Rataway co-chaired an Advancing Social Justice conference, with a speech by Nicole Hanna-Jones, the founder of the controversial “Project 1619”.
Friday’s release promised to “create a new workinggroup of stakeholders to develop the standards. This group will propose new social studies standards, and everyone who expresses concern will be part of the process, including Native Americans. Will be reviewed and adjusted based on input from the public, DOE, and, ultimately, approved by the Board of Education Standards.”
“The DOE working group will also appoint a new facilitator to oversee the process. DOE workgroup action and education standards to approve a new timeline to ensure standards are adopted after sufficient time for public input into the process Will work with the board.”
Rataway’s employer, The American Institute of Research, did not immediately respond to Granthshala News’ request for comment, but previously provided a lengthy response defending his work.
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Dana Tofig, managing director of corporate communications at AIR, told Granthshala News: “We conduct and implement research and our work is informed by data and evidence. We’ve reviewed and rewritten standards in nearly every state in the US. We have consulted successfully – including in the blue and red states – and our work is led by the needs and direction of our clients.”
“In South Dakota, our role has been to facilitate the revision of state social studies standards under the direction and guidance of the South Dakota Department of Education. When we began this project, the South Dakota DOE set specific parameters for our work. We collaborated with a team of educators and community members from across the state to meet those standards. We’re proud of our work in South Dakota.”
The controversy appeared to prompt June’s resignation of two members serving on the Social Studies Standards Committee. One of those resignations came from State Representative Sue Peterson, a Republican, who told Granthshala News that the state’s proposed standards did not align with a pledge signed by both her and Noem.
“Like Gov Noem, I signed the 1776 Pledge,” she said last week. “The proposed standards do not align with that pledge, nor do they align with what most South Dakota parents want for their children. Government Noam’s postponement of the approval process is the right thing to do. Will allow us to get the right people to build standards that align with what governors want.”
In July, Noem Put signature on An executive order that bars state education departments from pursuing federal grants in history or civics until the legislature can consider anti-CRT measures in the 2022 session. It came amid concerns from conservatives that the Biden administration had proposed grants that would effectively fund CRT-related education in schools.
“During this summer, Gov. Noem took action to stop the teaching of Critical Race Theory in South Dakota schools,” former President Trump adviser David Bossi said in an op-ed this week. “Gov. Noem is one hundred percent right; teaching our kids to hate America will spell our doom as a constitutional republic.”