PIERRE, S.D. — After facing major pushback from Native Americans and teachers over her Department of Education's rewriting of social studies standards, Gov. Kristi Noem says she'll set aside the current proposed standards and start the process again, potentially with a handpicked workgroup.
In a news release on Friday, Oct. 1, Noem said her office's plan will "create a new workgroup of stakeholders" to develop learning expectations for K-12 geography, U.S. history, and civics courses across South Dakota.
"This group will propose new social studies standards, and everyone who has expressed concerns will be a part of this process, including Native Americans," Noem said in the release.
In a statement, Noem says she wants history curriculum that "doesn't pit our children against each other on the basis of race, sex, or background."
It's unclear what elements of the current standards are objectionable to the governor. Her own education agency administrators say they edited a set of standards proposed by a workgroup of mostly teachers developed over two weeks this summer, largely deleting references to Native American culture and history.
Noem had initially backed the process to edit the proposed standards, before last week she criticized the standards as being "significantly" changed.
According to the news release, the Board of Education Standards — a group of former educators and administrators — will ultimately approve any new standards.
Asked via email on Friday whether the workgroup would be made up of mostly educators, akin to the normal standards revision process, Noem's spokesman Ian Fury responded, that "specifics will be forthcoming soon."