Supporters and opponents speak at the second public hearing over proposed social study standards

Supporters and opponents speak at the second public hearing over proposed social study standards
Published: Nov. 21, 2022 at 6:19 PM CST
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - During a public hearing Monday in Sioux Falls, supporters and opponents were given 90 minutes each to voice their thoughts on the newly-proposed social studies standards in South Dakota.

“To know history is to know yourself and that’s why I’m excited to be here today as a proponent for the proposed social studies standards,” Janet Frinzer said, an Iowa educator.

An original committee comprised of more than 40 educators brought forward a proposed set of standards last year.

Governor Kristi Noem scrapped that group’s work in 2021, and instead opted for a 15-person board consisting of only two current South Dakota teachers.

“This is the third time in three decades that I’ve witnessed a well-thought-out plan to update the South Dakota school content standards get hijacked by out-of-state partisan influences,” Robert Hoffman said, a retired South Dakota educator.

Dr. Steven Jackson, an associate professor of history at the University of Sioux Falls, was a member of the original board.

“The only two practicing South Dakota full-time educators have both spoken out against this process, and that raises a lot of questions about what happened here,” Dr. Jackson said.

An issue discussed by both those for and against the standard is the amount of memorization that would be present in the coursework.

“The lack of inquiry in these standards, and inquiry is a fancy way of saying having students think for themselves, these standards are all about rope memorization and that’s just not what our students need right now,” Dr. Jackson said.

“Memorization is also known as learning by heart. Children love to own knowledge, to own information. They are like sponges, they absorb it,” said David Steiner, the Director of Johns Hopkins Institute of Education and Policy.

The new standards are also believed to be more difficult.

“If you challenge a person, I don’t care if it’s a student or an individual if you give them a challenge and they’re going to try and meet that challenge it’s going to make them better,” said Larry Fossum, a grandfather and great grandfather to 18 children.

Critical Race Theory was also a buzzword that was often used during Monday’s hearing.

“Through this pessimistic lens we were taught that there are many things wrong with America, and I believe that if our higher education is going to be this way, our k-12 education should teach students what is right with America,” Jon Nash said, a graduate of South Dakota State University.

“South Dakota educators are not teaching critical race theory in k-12, we are not teaching cultural marxism in k-12,” Paul Herens said, a former teacher with 39 years of experience.

The South Dakota Board of Education Standards is not voting on approval until the conclusion of the 4th public hearing which is set to be held in 2023.