SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — One of the members of a committee chosen to come up with new social studies standards for South Dakota public schools says he no longer supports the plan.

Rapid City Middle School teacher Shaun Nielsen was one of three people certified to teach in South Dakota on the 15-member committee, which included the governor’s chief of staff and some state lawmakers.
In the past, a group of more than 40 educators helped set the standards.

According to members of the standards commission, the state paid a former professor from Hillsdale College in Michigan $200,000 to help come up with social studies standards for South Dakota.
This is the same school that put together the Hillsdale 1776 Curriculum, which offers nearly 2,400 pages of lesson plans on American history.

Rapid City Middle School teacher Shaun Nielsen says before the first meeting he got a thick packet in the mail sent from Hillsdale, Michigan. It was a set of already written standards. Ultimately, Nielsen says, he decided to speak out against the standards because they didn’t originate with South Dakota educators, and the standards were not written with the classroom in mind. Nielsen, a self-described conservative, compared the proposed standards to the 1776 curriculum. So far, educators KELOLAND News has talked with don’t seem concerned with what’s in the standards so much as the way the standards were developed and what level of thinking they are asking kids to do at certain ages.

“What these standards do is they go back to where we used to ask kids to remember as many facts as you can from your social studies book because that’s what kids are going to have to do to get through all of these standards,” said Summer Schultz.

The president of the South Dakota School Superintendents Association told us last week that at this point these are just proposals and there are upcoming public hearings.

“I really encourage parents, I encourage even our community members to take a look at the standards and see what they like about them and maybe take a real hard look at how they feel they are appropriate or not appropriate for the developmental age of their child and then be vocal about what they think,” said Schultz.

The Board of Education Standards will make the final determination after four public hearings. The first is scheduled for September 19th in Aberdeen.