PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — For the first time since the South Dakota Department of Education released revised social studies standards, we are hearing from the secretary of education.

The new version came out this week, following two public hearings on the topic.

New secretary of education, Joseph Graves, has been in education for 37 years.  For the past 23 years, he was the superintendent at the Mitchell School District. 

The new version of the proposed social standards includes some wording and formatting changes, as well as an addition of more geography. 

“Some of the amendments are basically pro forma. They’re things like what’s the appropriate spelling of particular terms? What’s a better term to be using? And those are a number of those standards. Those are normal changes,” Graves said. 

Graves, who used to be a social studies teacher, says adding more geography is important.

“There was a sense that we weren’t giving geography its due in those standards, and so the changes that are made are hopefully doing that, and I agree with that. Geography is an important aspect, and it’s important to especially American history because you’ve got to understand the geography if you’re going to understand the history,” Graves said. 

The reason for the changes came from two different directions.

“One was from public input, and one was from the professionals who said these standards are great but they’re not giving, well, not always great in all aspects, but we’re not giving geography it’s due and we need to get we need to get that more spelled out in the standards. I agree with that,” Graves said.

While not everyone approves of the process, Graves says they do address an issue which is a lack of “civics mastery.”   

“We’ve got to get back to that. To me, however, the process occurred, of course, I wasn’t here for that, so I really wasn’t tuned into that as much as many people were. The outcome is much more important than the process. And if we need to fix a process later, then we’ll need to fix that process later,” Graves said.

The Department of Education will outline the changes in the new version of the standards at their next meeting February 10 in Rapid City.

Registration to testify at the February public hearing is now open.

Secretary Graves says it’s not certain but is likely the new social studies standards will be voted on at the April public hearing.