Educators still question proposed social studies standards after revisions

Revisions have been made to the proposed social studies standards following two public meetings, but for some they aren't enough.
Published: Jan. 24, 2023 at 6:18 PM CST
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - Two meetings have already been held on the latest round of proposed social studies standards in South Dakota, and two more are scheduled for later this year. But that doesn’t mean the proposed standards will be the same by the end of the process.

The hundreds of parents, educators, and community members that turned out to the first two meetings in Aberdeen and Sioux Falls seem to have made an impact. Revisions made to the proposals include many grammatical changes. Some changes to geography standards for sixth grade, as well as high school students were included as well.

But for some educators, those changes aren’t enough. The South Dakota Education Association stated in a release that the changes fail to revisit many of the areas they said the proposals initially failed at. That includes the process from where the standards came from.

“The revisions made to the proposed social studies standards fall short in addressing the concerns raised by South Dakota’s educators and parents. A majority of revisions are grammatical and while some of the new language includes the word geography, the current proposal still fails to include content-rich geography standards. If these changes were truly significant, the SD. Dept. of Education should consider restarting the hearing process to give those living in the Aberdeen and Sioux Falls areas a chance to weigh in on the new proposal.

We continue to urge the Board of Education Standards to address the issues with the age appropriateness of the standards, maintain South Dakota History in the fourth grade and include the relevant Native American History that is identified in consultation with the nine tribes of South Dakota. This is what our students deserve and what parents and educators will continue to fight for.”

Ryan Rolfs, SDEA Executive Director

MORE: South Dakota educators raise concerns with proposed social studies standards process

The School Administrators of South Dakota agree, and Executive Director Rob Monson said the revisions show that there’s room for further changes to be made to the standards.

“What it does tell me is that there is in fact a process for revisions. That’s kind of what everyone who’s been testifying and people who have been writing in are saying, that these standards that are out there right now are not perfect,” Monson said. “So let’s take a pause, let’s take a look at them. Let’s bring a couple of committee’s back together, and let’s maybe fix some of the things that need to be fixed.”

Monson said even though two meeting have already been held before changes were made, he’s glad there are still more opportunities for people to come forward and react to the revisions.

“I do believe that’s why there certainly are four meetings held. Because if something’s identified at the first meeting or the second meeting, you have time in between the second and third, and third and fourth to bring those changes and put them in front of the public.” Monson said.

The preferred fix though for Monson, the SASD and the SDEA, is they’d like to see is to start the process back over or at least bring back the proposed standards from 2021. Those standards, they argue, were supported by more educators across the state, even if they weren’t perfect.

“Ideally, we would like to go back to the first set of standards that were brought forward by practitioners from South Dakota, that seemed like a majority of people agreed on and thought would be good standards moving forward. Again, if we had the opportunity, go back and bring those standards forward. Maybe take some of those that are being proposed for the current standards and meld the two together.” Monson said.

The Board of Education Standards’ next meeting on the proposed social studies standards is February 10 at the Rushmore Hotel in Rapid City. That date is a day earlier that originally scheduled. The deadline to register to speak at the meeting has already passed, but there’s still time to submit online comments on the standards here. A meeting in Pierre in April is also planned.