DRA and its members stand against the proposed changes to the SD DOE Social Studies standards

Recently, the SD Department of Education (DOE) released their version of the new Social Studies standards. These changes continue our state’s history of trying to erase Indigenous people and their ongoing relationship with this land. The DOE’s edited version drastically changes the proposed curriculum without consent from the working group tasked with making recommendations and updates to the curriculum. The working group is composed of education professionals and stakeholders who review current standards and make adjustments to the curriculum on a five- to seven-year year rotation. It consists of more than 50 representatives from K-12, including teachers and school administrators, post-secondary educators, and business and industry representatives. Some members of this team are now speaking out against the department’s changes to the draft they submitted in July.

We are calling on all of our members, our allies, and our community to speak out against this attack on our community members, our shared history, and our future. INDIVIDUALS CAN VIEW PROPOSED REVISIONS AND SUBMIT PUBLIC COMMENTS VIA THE FOLLOWING LINKS:

+++VIEW THE REVISIONS : Content Standards:
Social Studies Standards Revision Process

+++SUBMIT YOUR COMMENTS : Proposed South Dakota Social Studies Standards Public Comment Feedback Survey

AND also attend the four public hearings between now and 2022 before the Board of Education Standards considers the draft standards for approval in spring 2022. The first of these hearings is set for Sept. 20 in Aberdeen, followed by meetings in Sioux Falls, Pierre and Rapid City.

The changes consist of an erasure of language that references Indigenous communities. While the original document made 25 references to “Oceti Sakowin,” that phrase only appears three times in the new document. Similarly, the word “Indigenous” appears 20 times in the originally submitted document and only 9 times in the new standards. And whereas the working group made 34 references to the word “tribal,” the new document only invokes the word 27 times. 

Additionally, the edited document attempts to remove curriculum that would teach tribal historical importance. In the opening section titled “notable changes,” rather than an “incorporation of more diverse perspectives, especially those of Indigenous Native Americans,” the new document simply calls for “teaching the positive and negative aspects of our nation’s history while instilling pride in being an American.”

“It is everyone’s responsibility as part of our diverse society to acknowledge the vitality of our Indigenous populations, their history in the region and their unique cultures and needs. We must all make a commitment to learn about, celebrate and partner with Indigenous persons in our workplaces, our educational spaces and our personal lives.”

— Marcella Prokop, Member of Dakota Rural Action (full letter HERE)

These edits and changes continue the long history of institutional and structural racism that is so prominent in our state and our dominant culture. Gov. Noem, who also championed the overhaul of civic education in her State of the State speech in January, demanded that “critical race theory” not be taught in South Dakota. Noem also signed a conservative educational treatise coined the “1776 Pledge.” This pledge is riddled with white supremacy, white fragility, US exceptionalism, and color blindness. The Department of Education’s edits that were made after the review team submitted their draft demonstrate this continued attempt by the Noem administration to white wash what children learn in schools. 

Structural racism affects every facet of our lives, down to the very decisions that are made on behalf of communities of color. We know that justice can only be reached with the inclusion of all voices. 

Dakota Rural Action continues to take a stand against these displays of structural racism. We supported Standing Rock because our members opposed the Dakota Access Pipeline. We opposed the “riot boosting” legislation because our members oppose the Keystone XL pipeline. But we don’t consider this enough; as an organization, we continue to work to address structural racism. The SD Board of Education is working to implement a tool that will try to erase Indigenous voices and continue the long history of structural racism in our state. We all must stand together to stop these actions. 

Dakota Rural Action is a small “d” democratic organization working to organize people and build leadership while developing strong allied relationships. We protect environmental resources, advocate for resilient agriculture systems, and empower people to create policy change that strengthens their communities and cultures. We are calling on individuals to take a stand here and to look towards opportunities to engage in community building. The people who show up, turn out to vote, volunteer and connect with those around them play a key role in building resilient, equitable, and just communities. 

Please review the curriculum revisions and SUBMIT YOUR COMMENTS TO SD DOE RIGHT NOW!

+++VIEW THE REVISIONS : Content Standards:
Social Studies Standards Revision Process

+++SUBMIT YOUR COMMENTS : Proposed South Dakota Social Studies Standards Public Comment Feedback Survey