SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Critical Race Theory got a lot of attention this year in Pierre, starting with the Governor’s State of the State Address.
“In state after state, school after school, children are being exposed to radical political ideologies like critical race theory. And we’re not going to let that happen in South Dakota,” Noem said.
Governor Noem introduced two pieces of legislation. One bill that would have banned K-12 schools from teaching things that could make kids feel “discomfort” based on their race, failed in committee.
The second measure which focused on higher education passed. It bans state universities and colleges from requiring students to attend orientations and trainings involving so-called “divisive concepts”.
“I think it’s more about being proactive, we don’t always have to wait until we have a crisis on our hands,” Noem said.
House Minority Leader Jamie Smith, who is also running for governor, voted against the higher education bill calling it unnecessary.
“CRT is a college level or above theory that is not being taught in our schools, it’s a political set of letters to make people get all stirred up, because they know it must be bad,” Smith said.
Following the session, the governor issued an executive order directing the Department of Education to review all policies, guidance, and content standards for quote “inherently divisive concepts.”
After going through thousands of materials, the DOE found two standards to be in violation of Noem’s executive order. The course in question isn’t currently being taught in South Dakota.
“When the report came back with a big nothing burger, you know what happened then, they spun to say well that’s why we had to bring these things, so it doesn’t get into our schools, that’s not true it’s a problem they brought into our state to blow people up and to get people scared,” Smith said.
The governor disagrees. She says the bill gives students certain guarantees.
“To make sure in our classrooms our students are learning true and honest history and that’s all we really want, Critical Race Theory divides people based on racism and it uses Marxists theory in principles to do that, so that’s where its basis comes from and that deserves no place in any of America’s classrooms, especially not here in South Dakota,” Noem said.
A year ago the governor also signed an executive order banning the South Dakota Department of Education from applying for grants in history and civics due to her concerns over ties to Critical Race Theory.