NOTE: Testimony on Monday will be taken from people at the meeting and then remotely as time allows. To register, go here.
PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — The fourth and final opportunity for the public to express thoughts on South Dakota’s proposed changes to K-12 standards for social studies and for career and technical education is set for Monday, April 17.
The state Board of Education Standards will hold the hearing at the Pierre Ramkota Convention Centre starting at 9 a.m. CT. The board’s president, Terry Nebelsick of Huron, told KELOLAND News he expects the seven-member panel will vote on the two proposals later that day.
Written comments must reach the state Department of Education by Friday, April 14, to be considered. They can be sent electronically or by US mail. People wishing to testify in person can do so at the hearing or registering in advance to testify remotely.
The department and the board have seen turnover at the top since the social-studies process began.
Education Secretary Tiffany Sanderson resigned at the end of 2022, and Gov. Kristi Noem named then-Mitchell superintendent Joe Graves to replace her.
The governor decided to not re-appoint the board’s then-president, retired teacher Jacqueline Sly of Rapid City, and replaced her last year with Richard Meyer of Rapid City. The governor this year chose to not re-appoint Becky Guffin, the Aberdeen superintendent, and replaced her with Steve Perkins of Sioux Falls.
The board’s previous hearings on the proposed standards were held in Aberdeen on September 19, 2022; Sioux Falls on November 21, 2022; and Rapid City on February 10, 2023. As of February 7, 2023, the department had officially received 1,094 comments regarding the social-studies proposal, with 117 in support, 940 opposed and 37 neutral. At the February hearing, 23 spoke in favor while 23 spoke against.
Many current and retired teachers and some parents and school boards submitted comments against the social studies proposal. (The latest round of comments numbering 1,312 pages is here.)
The South Dakota Education Association, which represents teachers and other school employees, and the Associated School Boards of South Dakota have publicly criticized the social studies proposal.
Wade Pogany, the Associated School Boards executive director, testified against the proposal at the Rapid City hearing. He told KELOLAND News on Monday the organization believes the state board should recommend to the department that the current social studies proposal be suspended and the governor should name a new review group from those who recommended the current proposal and those who recommended the previous proposal that the governor set aside.
The current proposal is already in its third revision. An earlier proposal released in mid-2021 was scrapped by the governor.
“Clearly, the current proposal has numerous issues, but there is merit in some of the proposed standards suggested by the Governor’s Commission and the original social studies review committee,” Pogany said. “Selecting the more appropriate standards from each proposal and finding solutions to the many issues that have been raised, would be a more prudent approach than simply adopting the current proposal. The social studies standards the (state board) has before it are not workable and (are not) what’s best for South Dakota children.”
August 6, 2021 — Education Department releases first proposed revision of social studies standards
September 20, 2021 — Gov. Noem announces delay in revision of social studies standards
October 1, 2021 — Gov. Noem relaunches social studies committee
November 3, 2021 — Education Department seeks applications for social studies review
November 15, 2021 — Application deadline extended
April 22, 2022 — Department announces first meeting of relaunched review committee
August 15, 2022 — Gov. Noem announces revised social studies proposal
August 19, 2022 — Gov. Noem column ‘Raising the Bar‘
January 19, 2023 — National group endorses revised proposal
February 8, 2023 — Outside education experts endorse revised proposal