SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — While Governor Kristi Noem celebrates the passage of new social studies standards, educators in the state are expressing their disappointment.
Monday the Board of Education Standards voted 5-2 to approve a 2022 draft of the standards to replace the current 2015 standards. Only Terry Nebelsick, former Huron superintendent, and Steve Willard, Belle Fource superintendent, voted against the standards.
“We’re very disappointed,” South Dakota Education Association President Loren Paul said Tuesday. “If you’re going to have public hearing and take to comments and stuff, you should probably listen.”
The standards drew 1,295 comments with the majority (1,137) opposing the draft. There were also 121 comments in favor and 37 neutral comments.
Paul was grateful to the opposition provided by Nebelsick and Willard but felt the whole standards process, including the vote by the board, was political.
“I think it was a political vote and it was not a vote that was by comments or concerns by our educators from South Dakota, and that’s disappointing,” Paul said.
Paul and the SDEA would like to see changes to the makeup of the Board of Education Standards saying it should be comprised primarily of educators.
“Currently, it’s appointed by the governor, and we don’t have a problem with that. However, we feel the majority, at least the majority of the board should be current educators in South Dakota,” Paul said. “It’s like any commissions for doctors or lawyers or anything. The majority on those boards is always from the profession. So why would why why would this be treated differently?”
Having been through other standards approval processes before, Paul said this process deviated from the norm in a few ways. First, Paul said that the workgroup that typically creates standards includes educators that specialize in that subject. The original 44-person workgroup was comprised of mostly educators but after their draft was scrapped, the second workgroup that took over had few educators and was facilitated by Hillsdale College professor William Morrisey.
Second, Paul said that the standards typically provide a framing for what educators should base their curriculum off of, keeping control local for each district.
“The problem with these current standards is there’s not options of curriculums out there to choose from; it’s just the one,” Paul explained. “These are interesting, because these are sweeping changes, sweeping to where nobody’s curriculum is going to fit within these standards now. So everybody is going to have to get new curriculum, which is very expensive to change your curriculum like that.”
Paul worries about how some districts will afford new curriculum and textbooks to align with the new standards.
“I don’t even know if this is going to be attainable by some of our districts out there.”