South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem, a Republican, on Monday directed the state's Department of Education to delay changes to the state's social studies standards up to one year to allow more public input.
"The Department of Education changed the working group's recommendations to the social studies standards significantly, but it is clear to me that there needs to be more public input to bring greater balance and emphasis on our nation's true and honest history," Noem said in a statement.
"Following public feedback from several constituencies, it is clear there is more work to be done to get this right."
The Argus Leader reported last week that nearly 600 public comments had been submitted to the Board of Education Standards as the DOE prepared to hold the first hearing on the standards in October.
The newspaper's review of the comments found that the majority were in opposition to the proposed standards, in which the DOE removed more than a dozen explicit references to education on the Oceti Sakowin that initially were included in an early draft proposed by a work group tasked with retooling the standards.
"Oceti Sakowin" refers collectively to the Lakota, Dakota and Nakota people who are indigenous to South Dakota and surrounding states.
Two conservative members of the work group developing the standards resigned in July before the references to the Oceti Sakowin had been removed.
"We will be delaying further formal action on the draft social study standards to allow more opportunity for public input, increased legislative engagement, and additional voices to be heard in this discussion," Noem said.
"Our focus remains the same: ensuring that South Dakota students learn a true and honest account of American and South Dakota history."
Noem's statement was announced the same day the National Review ran an opinion column by Stanley Kurtz, a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, titled "Noem Must Fix South Dakota Standards Fiasco."
"Hard-left activists have taken over the writing of K-12 history and civics standards in ruby-red South Dakota," Kurtz wrote.
"Unless Noem throws out the current, hopelessly compromised draft social-studies standards, replaces the state education bureaucrats responsible for this fiasco, and puts thoughtful conservatives in charge of the standards revision process, South Dakota's schools are poised to become playthings of the Left."
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