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State education agency plans big rollout of hotly contested social studies standards

PIERRE, S.D.  — Big plans are rolling out from the South Dakota Department of Education (SDDOE) intended to help teachers bring South Dakota’s new social-studies standards into their classrooms.

The SDDOE characterizes it as a ‘moving forward’ following a controversial two-year battle over state education social studies standards content.

A statewide summit is set for this summer. Also coming are two training seminars targeted for elementary teachers. Participants will receive free lodging and stipends. The summit and tours are planned to happen again next summer, with the seminars expanding to include middle-and high-school teachers.

A revamped website emphasizing South Dakota history for all grades also will debut. And the department has invited publishers nationwide to submit copies of books written for the K-5 level, which a panel of educators will review and the department then will purchase and provide free to schools.

Following public hearings and multiple rewrites of the standards over a two-year time period, a board appointed by Gov. Kristi Noem gave its approval of the current version of social studies standards.

The new standards continue to be opposed by the Associated School Boards of South Dakota, the School Administrators of South Dakota, the South Dakota Education Association, all tribal nations in South Dakota and, according to public input records, an overwhelming majority of parents. Over 95% of public comment on the proposed standards opposed the social-studies standards as written.

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