Today, Governor Kristi Noem released draft social studies standards for K-12 students in South Dakota.
“South Dakota’s children deserve the very best social studies education in the nation,” said Governor Kristi Noem. “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. And under these standards, our students will focus more on Native American history and culture than ever before.”
The draft standards were compiled by the Social Studies Content Standards Commission, which was facilitated by former Hillsdale College professor William Morrisey.
“We are grateful for the efforts of the working group to approach these draft standards from a wide variety of perspectives, including parents, teachers, college professors, administrators, historians, and experts in Native American history and culture,” said Department of Education Secretary Tiffany Sanderson. “Retired Hillsdale College Professor Will Morrisey did an excellent job guiding the conversation and ensuring that all perspectives were represented.”
“I couldn’t be more thrilled with the new social studies standards. They are substantial and straightforward standards that emphasize our founding documents, our pursuit of freedom, and treat our nation’s history honestly,” said Representative Sue Peterson, Vice Chair of the House Education Committee.
These standards feature expanded South Dakota and Native American history and civics, representing the most robust emphasis on Native American history and civics of any draft standards to-date.
“I am glad that Native American heritage and culture will be well represented in these standards,” said Joe Circle Bear, member of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe and member of the Commission. “Governor Noem promised to tell our story as part of American history, and these standards do that.”
“I am very proud of the work we as a committee have put into the new Social Studies Standards,” said Stephanie Hiatt, doctorate in education, member of the Seminole Tribe of Florida, and member of the Commission. “The new standards offer a chronological history of the founding of America. With these new standards, I am confident South Dakota students will develop a historical appreciation that will foster hopeful and prosperous communities.”
In preparing the draft standards, the Commission focused on the four following goals:
- Genuine content in the form of specific stories, historical figures, maps, research, images, and historical documents;
- Sound skills for making sense of the past, understanding their neighbors, earning a livelihood, and exercising the rights and responsibilities of citizenship with prudence;
- Honest, balanced, and complete accounts of historical events and debates that foster a love of country that is not blind to faults; and
- History and civics instruction free from political agendas and activism.
The standards feature integrated civics, ensuring that civics-related topics are interwoven into history classes.
“The standards developed by the Social Studies Commission represent a raising of the bar for social studies education in South Dakota,” said Jon Schaff, Director of the Center for Public History and Civic Engagement at Northern State University and member of the Commission. “We should be proud that our state is taking the lead in promoting civic education firmly grounded in the admirable principles of the American founding. Students educated under these standards will be ready to take on the role of educated citizen.
Last year, Governor Noem became the first candidate or public official in the country to sign the “1776 Pledge to Save our Schools.” At the time, she and Dr. Ben Carson co-wrote an article for Fox News outlining the Pledge and why it is important.
“Since becoming the first office holder in the country to sign the ‘1776 Pledge,’ Governor Noem has followed through with action to promote a true and balanced telling of American history,” said Adam Waldeck, President of 1776 Action. “These standards will set the bar for social studies education in this country. I look forward to continuing to work with Governor Noem to restore honest, patriotic education.”
The draft standards made several other notable adjustments to previous South Dakota social studies standards, 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.
“I am very proud of the work we’ve done, and I encourage people to read these standards,” said Dr. Ben Jones, South Dakota State Historian and member of the Commission. “I believe South Dakotans will see that American history education now includes a great deal of American Indian history and South Dakota’s history in ways that speak to all students and provide a greater foundation for understanding America and their home state after students graduate.”
The Department of Education intends to offer comprehensive professional development to support teachers in building their own knowledge and skills for teaching social studies. Events will be held beginning summer of 2023 and continue throughout the school year to ensure educators are well equipped to implement the standards.
You can find the draft standards here.