South Dakota’s Noem Delays Social Studies Standards Over Concerns About Left Influences


South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem is delaying consideration of the new social studies standards because critics accused her of allowing left-wing influences to taint the state’s curriculum.

In a statement released this week, Noem said she was delaying the review process for up to a year, earning her praise from the anti-critical racial theory group 1776 Action.

On Monday, Noem said: “Following public comments from several constituencies, it is clear that there is still work to be done to get it right.”

Over the past few months, Noem has waged a public and political war on Critical Race Theory (CRT), pushing for several aspects of the original standards to be revised. Notably, she was one of the first Republican governors to sign a 1776 Action anti-CRT pledge – though some have asked for more from her office.


His latest move came as Stanley Kurtz, senior researcher at the Center for Ethics and Public Policy, warned on education consultant Beth Ratway’s influence on the Department of Education, as well as on what he called “civic education action Frame C3. “

Kurtz also highlighted Ratway’s video presentation on social justice, which has since been deleted from YouTube. Obtained by Fox News via Kurtz, the PowerPoint uses a lot of language reminiscent of the controversial fairness trainings seen in the United States

For example, under “Connecting Social Justice and Social Studies,” Ratway’s slide reads, “We define social justice education as the educational practice of guiding students through critical discussion, review and an active exploration of the reasons behind social inequalities and how unjust institutional practices maintain and reproduce the power and privileges that have a direct impact on the lives of students. “

She also quotes Paulo Freire, a well-known advocate of “critical pedagogy” who has been criticized by anti-CRT advocates like James Lindsay. The links with the ideas of the left do not end with its presentation. In 2020, she co-chaired a conference on advancing social justice, which included a speech by the controversial “Project 1619” founder Nikole Hannah-Jones.

Ratway did not directly respond to Fox News’ request for comment, but his employer – the American Institutes of Research (AIR) – provided a lengthy response defending his work.

Dana Tofig, executive director of corporate communications at AIR, told Fox News, “We conduct and apply research and our work is informed by data and evidence. and the Red States – and our work is driven by the needs and direction of our clients. In South Dakota, our role has been to facilitate the review of state social studies standards under the direction and guidance of the South Dakota Department of Education. When we started this project, the South Dakota DOE provided specific parameters for our work and we adhered to those parameters by working with a team of educators and community members from across the state. We are proud of our work in South Dakota.

The controversy appeared to prompt the June resignations of two members serving on the Social Studies Standards Committee. One of those resignations came from State Representative Sue Peterson, a Republican who told Fox News that the state’s proposed standards did not match the 1776 Action pledge.


“Like Governor Noem, I signed the 1776 pledge,” she said. “The proposed standards do not match this commitment, nor what I believe most parents in South Dakota want for their children. Deferring the approval process by Governor Noem is the right thing to do. will allow him to get the right people in place to create standards that match what the governor says he wants. ”

Dr Rich Meyer, who also left the committee, told Fox News: “We were not working on educational standards consistent with the 1776 pledge signed by Governor Noem, which rejects critical race theory. and civic action. “

In July, Noem signed an executive order prohibiting the state’s education ministry from obtaining federal grants in history or civic education until the legislature could consider anti-CRT measures during the session of 2022. This came as Tories feared the Biden administration had offered grants that would effectively fund CRT-related education in schools.

“Throughout this summer, Governor Noem has taken steps to stop teaching critical race theory in South Dakota schools,” former Trump adviser David Bossie said in a statement. editorial this week. “Governor Noem is one hundred percent right; allowing our children to learn to hate America will mean our downfall as a constitutional republic. “

Noem’s revisions also provoked a reaction from the left by removing several references to Native American education.

But according to Kurtz, Noem’s order “came too late” as the governor allegedly made “largely cosmetic” changes to the draft standards.

Adam Waldeck, president of 1776 Action, called for further revision and praised Noem’s delay.


“The push for CRT and civic action is well-funded, organized, and full of puns meant to hide the truth from parents and taxpayers – and the fact that its supporters may even get their foot in the door in a state as South Dakota shows how much work there is to do, “Waldeck told Fox News Thursday.

“Governor Noem’s freezing of his state’s standards review process was exactly the right decision and shows his commitment to getting it right,” he added.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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