SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Both the South Dakota Department of Education and the South Dakota Education Association are preparing arguments ahead of the first public input meeting.

South Dakotans will have their first opportunity to give public input on the controversial social studies standards Monday in Aberdeen.

Ahead of that meeting, Department of Education Secretary Tiffany Sanderson released an editorial urging the public to look at the “big picture.”

“The South Dakota Department of Education aspires for all students to graduate from the K-12 system
ready for college, careers, and life. This is not something we take lightly,” Sanderson wrote.

Sanderson goes on to say that in addition to wanting students to graduate high school, the DOE also wants students to be “responsible citizens, voters, board members, and engaged volunteers who recognize how they can impact the world around them.” In order to do so, Sanderson says the content standards are a way to create a framework for students to develop skills and learn.

The SDEA provided a side-by-side comparison for each grade level to the standards approved in 2015. 

In a post on the organization’s website, the SDEA says: “The proposed social studies standards discourage inquiry-based learning and emphasis rote memorization. They wildly deviate from current social studies standards and will upend the curriculum for every teacher, every classroom and every school.” 

The SDEA comparison documents say the side-by-side view doesn’t compare the merit of the content or provide analysis of either set of stands. You can view the comparisons for kindergarten through 8th grade as well as high school economics, geography, government, U.S. history and world history. 

“These standards are the basis from which they can learn to critically analyze information, practice the art of debate, and see their opportunity to lead, equipped with the lessons of those who came before us,” Sanderson said in her letter.

The proposed content standards have been criticized for focusing on memorization and advanced content not appropriate with the age of the children as well as the association with Hillsdale College and the 1776 curriculum.

“Kids are capable of a great deal, often more than we think. Let’s use this opportunity to ensure our
expectations challenge South Dakota students to learn and grow and become our next generation of
South Dakota leaders,” Sanderson concluded.

“It should also be noted that the proposed standards lack any robust geography,” the SDEA said. “Pointing to a map is the expectation in the newest proposed standards instead of understanding how human movement and culture have contributed to our history and our country.” 

The public input meeting is scheduled for Monday, September 19 at the Dakota Event Center in Aberdeen, South Dakota. The meeting is set to begin at 9 a.m. To register to share public comment and testimony, you must register by 2 p.m. on Friday, September 16 by emailing

For public hearing on the standards, up to 90 minutes for proponent and up to 90 minutes for opponent testimony will be allowed. Any remaining registered testifiers will be placed on the registration for the following hearing.