Spearfish organization plans to host educator “equity training”

The event is advertising itself as an “opportunity to learn, grow, and better support all of your students,” to educators.
"Make Space" in Spearfish, SD
"Make Space" in Spearfish, SD(Facebook)
Published: Apr. 27, 2022 at 5:37 PM CDT
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PIERRE, S.D. - A Spearfish based organization wants to help educators become “anti-bias, anti-racist,” and more LGBTQ+ inclusive.

“Make Space,” an organization that originated as a bicycle co-op in Spearfish, is planning to host an “equity training” event over the summer.

"Make Space" in Spearfish, South Dakota is offering a training opportunity for educators to...
"Make Space" in Spearfish, South Dakota is offering a training opportunity for educators to learn more about teaching more inclusively.(Submitted DNN/KOTA)

While “Make Space” originated as a bicycle co-op, it now advertises itself as promoting “arts, cycling, and equity,” per their Facebook page.

The event has already raised the eyebrows of some in the area.

“I don’t think this is the kind of group the majority of us in our district want training our teachers, that have custody and control of our kids all day, every day,” said State Rep. Scott Odenbach (R-Spearfish). “Certainly, “Make Space” like any group has a first amendment right to get together and organize, but so do the rest of us to push back frankly.”

Make Space declined several requests for an interview, or to comment on the event. Additionally, the Spearfish School District declined to comment on if they had any involvement in the event, or if they had spoken to educators in the district about it.

The flier for the event says that it offers “continuing education units,” (CEUs), which the state’s Department of Education would have to approve.

In a statement, Secretary of Education Tiffany Sanderson said that a training like this would not be eligible for CEUs, due to an executive order signed earlier this month by Governor Kristi Noem.

“Our focus at the Department of Education is to help students succeed and to guarantee each student equal opportunities,” said Sanderson. “Training like this one do not help achieve that, they divide students into groups instead of focusing on equal opportunity for every student. The Department of Education does not pre-approve training that claim to offer CEUs; but we do determine whether a training can be counted toward the CEUs that educators need to earn as part of the recertification process.”

Opponents of Noem’s executive order, and legislation passed during the 2022 session, argue that in part the efforts have created confusion for educators and school districts around what is considered “okay,” and what is not.

However, Odenbach believes the sentiment coming out of Pierre has been crystal clear.

“The sense of the legislature, and the sense of the Governor has been pretty clear, and I commend her for some of the stances she has taken in the education arena to push back on stuff like this. I think our position has been made clear.”>

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