PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — The past House speaker told the state education secretary Wednesday it would be “wise” to restore Native American references deleted from South Dakota’s proposed K-12 social studies standards.
The official working group that spent eight days preparing a draft saw parts of the document changed the next day by the state Department of Education. Many references to Native American history were removed.
Sanderson defended the process Wednesday.
“Some of the recent narrative that you heard might make it seem like the department is now proposing or recommending to erase all teaching or learning around Native American history or government, and that is absolutely false. That’s not the case. I’d like to equip you with some information to make sure that we’re all on the same page,” she said.
“We did make some recommendations or revisions to the work group’s recommendations to us, to ensure that schools have the ability to teach about all cultures that make up the fabric of South Dakota, including our Native American or Oceti Sakowin people — the Lakota, Dakota and Nakota people of South Dakota,” she continued.
The state Board of Education Standards must hold public hearings in four South Dakota cities during the coming year. The first is in Aberdeen on September 20.
“The proposed standards are actually more inclusive of all students in South Dakota than the former standards, the 2015 standards, were,” Sanderson said. “Examples of additional ways that schools could address cultural teaching include our Karen population and the culture of our Hispanic students, our Somali students, and our Czech students, just as examples. Of course there are many, many cultures that make up the South Dakota demographics.”
Haugaard, who serves on the Legislature’s State-Tribal Relations Committee, said the matter should be reconsidered.
“I recognize the fact that the coverage came out as though something was being extracted. I understand the wording is nuanced as I read through it. It’s nuanced to include a variety of cultures and backgrounds and that sort of thing,” Haugaard said.
“But I think it would be wise to simply re-insert the references to Native American culture, since it’s such a significant part of South Dakota, and I think that’s potentially the only way that you can redeem those standards to the public, because I believe the public image is they’ve been excluded.
“I understand they’re still there, but I think it would be a reasonable way to recognize the important aspect of the Native American culture. Simply make reference to it, and you can say, ‘And other significant ethnic or cultural backgrounds’ as well. But I think it should be in there.”
Sanderson responded, “Thank you.”