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Final public comment hearing set for proposed SD social studies standards

PIERRE, S.D. – After three previously held public hearings, the fourth and final opportunity for the public to express opinions on South Dakota’s proposed changes to K-12 standards for social studies and for career and technical education is set for Monday, April 17.

The state Board of Education Standards will hold the hearing at the Pierre Ramkota Convention Centre starting at 9 a.m. (CT).

Written comments must reach the state Department of Education by Friday, April 14, to be considered. They can be sent electronically or by US mail. People wishing to testify in person can do so by appearing at the hearing.

The proposed social studies standards are overwhelmingly opposed by the majority of educators and administrators along with the state’s Native educators and leadership. The South Dakota Education Association, which represents teachers and other school employees, and the Associated School Boards of South Dakota have publicly criticized the social studies proposal. “The proposed social studies standards discourage inquiry-based learning and emphasize rote memorization. They wildly deviate from current social studies standards and will upend the curriculum for every teacher, every classroom and every school.”

The current proposal is already in its third revision. An earlier proposal released in mid-2021 was scrapped by Gov. Kristi Noem, who has replaced multiple Board of Education Standards members over the past two years with non-educators and out-of-state representation. According to the most recent appointment to the standards board, Terry Nebelsick, Huron, S.D., he expects the committee to vote on one of two proposals later in the day on April 17 and after the public hearing.

The board’s previous hearings on the proposed standards were held in Aberdeen on September 19, 2022; Sioux Falls on November 21, 2022; and Rapid City on February 10, 2023. As of February 7, 2023, the department had officially received 1,094 comments regarding the social-studies proposal, with 117 in support, 940 opposed and 37 neutral.

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