SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Since May 2022, the State of South Dakota has paid $125k to William Morrisey, a retired Hillsdale College professor from Michigan, contracted to develop the state’s social studies content standards.
April 17 marks the final public hearing on the standards submitted by the most recent work group, a step that will be immediately followed by Board of Education Standards discussion and action.
Morrisey, the facilitator behind these standards, is expected to be paid up to $200k according to the terms of his contract, for the following services:
- $10,000 to facilitate the selection of commission members
- $40,000 to submit a draft of standards
- $25,000 to facilitate in-person meetings
- $25,000 to facilitate Zoom meetings
- $25,000 to submit standards to the Board of Education Standards
- $25,000 to facilitate public hearings
- $50,000 to approve the final standards.
These payments are to be made upon satisfactory completion of services, and the amount is not to exceed $200,000.
As of April 17, 2023, Morrisey has received five separate payments from the state, totaling $125k.
May 6, 2022: Morrisey is paid $10,000, an amount which corresponds to the facilitation of the selection of social studies standards revision commission members.
May 18, 2022: Morrisey is paid $40,000, an amount corresponding to the submission of a draft of the revised standards.
August 12, 2022: Morrisey is paid $25,000, likely for facilitating in-person meetings with the commission, though this amount also corresponds to the facilitation of Zoom meetings, submission of the standards to the Board of Education Standards, and the facilitation of public hearings (the last of which is happening April 17, 2023).
August 17, 2022: Morrisey is paid $25,000, likely for facilitating commission meetings via Zoom, though the amount also corresponds to the facilitation of in-person meetings, submission of standards, and the facilitation of public meetings (the last of which is happening April 17, 2023).
September 21, 2022: Morrisey is paid $25,000, likely for the submission of standards to the Board of Education standards, who heard comments on the submitted standards that month, though the amount also corresponds to the the facilitation of both in-person and Zoom meetings, as well as the facilitation of public meetings (the last of which is happening April 17, 2023).
Morrisey has not received a payment yet in 2023, likely due to the fact that public hearings on the standards have not yet officially concluded (the last hearing happening as this article is being written), for which he’s to be paid $25,000 for facilitating.
Morrisey is also set to be paid $50,000 in the event that his standards receive final approval from the Board of Education Standards. If they are approved, they will not take effect until 2025.
The newest version of the standards have faced pushback, from the public, from educators, from South Dakota tribes, and even from members of the new work group itself, whose members were hand-picked in part by Gov. Kristi Noem.
In September of 2022, group member and self-described conservative Shaun Nielsen, a Rapid City Middle School teacher and one of only three certified South Dakota teachers on the committee, spoke out against the new standards.
Nielsen told KELOLAND News that prior to first meeting of the new standards revision commission, he and other members were the recipients of a packet from Hilldale, Michigan, containing a set of already written standards.
Nielsen said decided to speak out because the standards didn’t originate from South Dakota educators and compared them to the 1776 curriculum.
The 15-member group Nielsen is a part of was selected after the first attempt to revise the social studies content standards (a routine process) was scrapped.
The original work group, consisting of over 40 members, worked together to produce a draft for revised social studies standards back in 2021. The state faced backlash after it was revealed that the Department of Education (DOE) acted to remove multiple references to Native American culture and history from the standards before releasing the draft.
Members of that original workgroup began to speak out, expressing anger and disappointment that their work had been revised to such a large degree.
Following this backlash, Noem initially ordered the DOE in September of 2021 to delay implementation of the standards changes by one year. Shortly thereafter in October 2021, she changed her mind, announcing that the standards and workgroup would be scrapped and that the entire process would be restarted.
In all KELOLAND News has calculated that the entire process to revise the social studies standards is expected to amount to a bill of nearly $500k for the people of South Dakota, a little over 40% of which will be paid directly to Morrisey.