SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — In an email Wednesday morning, the Department of Education confirmed that Governor Kristi Noem was involved in selecting the members of the DOE’s new social studies standards commission.
“With this current process, Governor Noem and her office worked with the Governor’s appointed Secretary of Education, the Governor’s appointed State Historian, and the Department of Education, as they do on any important issues impacting the next generation,” wrote DOE information specialist Ruth Raveling.
This response came to inquiries from KELOLAND into the selection process for commission members following Tuesday’s confirmation from the DOE that members of the governor’s office were involved in the selection process.
Over 200 people applied for the new 15-member commission, which is replacing a 44-person workgroup that in July of 2021 submitted a draft of social studies content standards to the DOE.
Those standards were then revised by the DOE, with many references to Native American history and culture removed, a decision which sparked backlash from members of South Dakota’s education and tribal communities, as well as from the members of the original workgroup themselves.
Of the new members, only three are educators currently certified by the DOE, and only six have experience in education. Other members of the group include Noem’s Chief of Staff, the executive director of the South Dakota Catholic Conference and the director of a retirement home who is an alumni of Hillsdale College, a conservative private institution in Michigan, of which Noem’s communications director Ian Fury is also a graduate.
On Sept. 20, 2021, Noem asked the DOE to not consider revisions to the state’s social studies standards at that time, instead directing them to delay the process one year. Shortly thereafter, she reversed course, announcing that she would instead be relaunching the entire project with a new workgroup.