SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Eleven days before the second Board of Education Standards meeting on the proposed social studies standards, the Department of Education has released a second op-ed in support of adopting the proposed standards. 

Ahead of the September meeting in Aberdeen, DOE secretary Tiffany Sanderson released an editorial urging the public to look at the “big picture.” This time, the editorial comes from Janet Finzen, a member of the Social Studies Standards Revision Commission who worked on the proposed standards. Finzen, who lives in Dakota Dunes and taught in Nebraska, has never been certified to teach in South Dakota. 

“The proposed standards may seem at first glance to be overly rigorous and time consuming, but complex social studies standards empower students to succeed in school and later in their careers and life,” Finzen wrote. “Social studies matters and the democratic traditions of our country deserve a place in today’s classrooms.” 

You can read the full letter attached below. 

The South Dakota Education Association provided a side-by-side comparison for each grade level to the standards approved in 2015. 

Sandra Waltman, SDEA director of communications and government relations, told KELOLAND News in October the proposed standards haven’t changed and therefore the opposition remains from the SDEA and many other education associations and teachers across the state. 

Waltman said the main concerns are about memorization, the amount of content and the cost of changing curriculums to match the proposed standards. 

There is no current state or federal test that measures how students are learning about social studies in South Dakota. The proposed social studies standards doesn’t change that, but Waltman said part of how public schools are accredited is through aligning with statewide standards. 

Finzen said in her editorial: “These standards do not dictate the curriculum or how a teacher in each district will teach them.” 

“It is important to note the proposed standards are guidelines for addressing what students should know by the end of each school year,” Finzen wrote. “These standards are both meaningful and challenging and are grounded in democratic principles like civic participation, equality and individual freedoms.”

The second of four Board of Education public meetings will be held Monday, Nov. 21 at the Sioux Falls Convention Center. Registration for public comment is open. Two future meetings will be held in Pierre and Rapid City before the proposed social studies standards could be approved in March 2023.