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EXCLUSIVE: South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem plans to release new draft social studies standards for K-12 students Monday, following controversy surrounding an earlier draft of the standards.
Noem relaunched the process of developing new social studies standards last October, after delaying their review just a week earlier over concerns of left-wing influences and “feedback from several constituencies.” At the time, Noem asked the South Dakota Department of Education to “set aside” the proposed standards and begin the process again to “ensure we propose standards that accurately reflect the values of South Dakota.”
The new standards, set to be announced Monday, feature “integrated civics,” according to Noem’s office, ensuring civics-related materials are woven into history lessons. The new draft standards will also expand South Dakota and Native American history.
“South Dakota’s children deserve the very best social studies education in the nation,” Noem told Fox News Digital in a statement. “These standards raise the bar for the breadth and depth of civics and history education. They feature a true, honest and balanced approach to American history that is not influenced by political agendas.”
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“Under these standards, our students will focus more on Native American history and culture than every before,” she said.
The new draft standards made several specific changes to previous drafts, including “enhanced content to ensure that standards are meaningful and clear; a spiraled sequence to ensure that students have the opportunity to build on what they have previously learned; and streamlined identification to improve accessibility and allow for easier use by both teachers and parents,” according to Noem’s office.
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“I am glad that Native American heritage and culture will be well represented in these standards,” said Joe Circle Bear, a member of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe and member of the commission. “Gov. Noem promised to tell our story as part of American history, and these standards do that.”
The initial release of the social studies standards last year was plagued with controversies, including when two members serving on the committee and resigned in June, claiming that the standards did not align with the anti-Critical Race Theory pledge designed by the group 1776 Action that Gov. Noem signed. Just days before Noem paused the initial review process, Stanley Kurtz, a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy center, warned that “hard-left activists” had taken over the writing of the standards.
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The initial standards were also criticized when members of the review committee said elements intended to bolster students’ understanding of Native American history and culture were deleted from the standards.
New social studies standards are released every seven years in South Dakota, and the South Dakota Department of Education plans to offer professional development training to teachers beginning in the summer of 2023 to ensure they are prepared to implement the standards.
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The Associated Press contributed to this report
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