South Dakota unveils draft social studies standards

Draft incorporates civics, Native American history throughout a student's career

PIERRE, S.D. — The South Dakota Department of Education on Monday, August 15, 2022, released new Proposed Soc. Study Standards for teaching social studies in grades kindergarten through 12.

An earlier draft released last summer was criticized for not putting enough emphasis on Native American history.

The new proposal was developed by the Social Studies Content Standards Commission, which included Native American representation.

In developing the standards, the commission says it focused on four 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  • Genuine content in the form of specific stories, historical figures, maps, research, images, and historical documents;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.

In a statement announcing the proposed standards, South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem said, “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.”

Commission member Joe Circle Bear of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe said, “I am glad that Native American heritage and culture will be well represented in these standards. Governor Noem promised to tell our story as part of American history, and these standards do that.”

The commission was facilitated by former Hillsdale College professor William Morrisey.

Members included:

  • Mark Miller, Chair of Commission
  • Joe Circle Bear
  • Janet Finzen
  • Dr. Stephanie Hiatt
  • Dr. Benjamin F. Jones, State Historian
  • Dylan Kessler
  • Aaron Levisay
  • Christopher Motz
  • Shaun Nielsen
  • Fred Osborn, State Director of Indian Education
  • Dr. Jon Schaff
  • Mary Shuey
  • State Representative Tamara St. John
  • Dr. Samantha Walder
  • State Senator John Wiik
  • William Morrisey, Facilitator

As part of the review process, the state Board of Education Standards is required to hold a series of four public hearings in four locations across the state over a period of at least six months. During that time, the state also accepts written comments about the proposed standards.

Categories: Local News, South Dakota News