SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Of thousands of materials reviewed by the Department of Education, only two were found to be in violation of Governor Kristi Noem’s Critical Race Theory executive order.
In April, Noem issued an executive order directing the Department of Education (DOE) to review content standards, policies, trainings and other materials for K-12 schools to weed out any ‘inherently divisive concepts.’ The order came months after a bill to ban ‘divisive concepts’ from K-12 education in South Dakota failed in the South Dakota legislature.
Now, after weeks of back and forth between Noem’s legal team, the report is being made public.
In its findings, the DOE found that the reviewed materials were “largely in line” with the issued executive order. But there were a small number of materials that were not in alignment and the department said it is taking action to “discontinue them.”
One of the materials deemed “potentially problematic” was in the Introduction to Law and Public Safety II course, which is identified as an “advanced career and technical education course.” The report highlights two passages in the section Level 4: Extended Thinking that ask students to:
- “Analyze differences in power and privilege related to people of culturally diverse backgrounds, beliefs, and practices.”
- “Analyze issues of cultural assimilation and cultural preservation among ethnic and racial groups in South Dakota and the United States.”
That class is not currently being offered in the state at this time according to the report. Also noted is that the class is “not frequently” taught at the K-12 level when it is offered.
The report states that future revisions will remove and vet items to make sure they align with Noem’s executive order.
Also identified by the report were “unpacked” standards that are labelled as supplemental to the content standards, but the DOE finds they could violate the executive order. The example provided was of a high school social studies standard from 2015 on potential civil engagement activity to “circulate a petition, organize a rally, champion a boycott.”
The DOE said they are revising the documents to align with the executive order.
According to the DOE report, the Oceti Sakowin Essential Understandings and Standards create a “unique situation”, and a separate review is recommended to assess how the teachings align with the executive order.
Now that the review is complete, the DOE will propose changes to the two content standards found to be in violation and modifications and clarifications will be made as necessary.