South Dakota teachers’ union president reacts to Noem’s history initiative

Education

SIOUX FALLS, SD (KELO) — South Dakota teachers want to learn more about Governor Kristi Noem’s lesson plan for history and civics in public schools across the state. Noem says she wants to improve civic education by teaching kids all that makes America unique. Her statement in Pierre on Tuesday that we must do a better job educating teachers on the topic of history caught the attention of South Dakota’s largest teacher’s union. The president of the South Dakota Education Association says teachers will have a place at the table in making changes to how they teach history.

Governor Kristi Noem put forth the challenge of improving history and civics education in South Dakota during her state of the state address.

“Through all of this, our common mission and key objective needs to be explaining why the United States of America is the most special nation in the history of the world,” Noem said.

But the South Dakota Education Association says teachers in the state already do a good job teaching history. And that emphasizing the unique nature of the United States within the context of history must come from standards set down by the South Dakota Board of Education, not simply from a decree by the governor.

“If that is in the standards, we’re going to teach to it, if it’s not in there, we’re not required to teach to it,” SDEA President Loren Paul said.

Noem also said we need to do a better job educating teachers on the subjects of America’s founding, as well as state and national history. The SDEA’s president says he’s giving Noem the benefit of the doubt when it comes to her choice of words.

“You could take offense, the words to teach our teachers, but we don’t use the term we’re going to teach our doctors or anything else. So, we shouldn’t be doing that with teachers. However, I’d like to think she meant it in a positive way,” Paul said.

Paul says he hopes South Dakota teachers will have input in whatever changes will be made to improve history education and that the subject doesn’t get politicized in the process.

“I hope we don’t start being directed, or have legislators start changing content, because they really don’t have the right, that’s local control, we should be teaching to the standard,” Paul said.

The president of the Sioux Falls School Board, Cynthia Mickelson, tweeted a blunt assessment about Governor Noem’s history education plan.

You can read about South Dakota content standards by going to the Department of Education website

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