Gov. Kristi Noem replaces Aberdeen superintendent with local businessman on Board of Ed Standards

Gov. Kristi Noem announced Tuesday night she appointed a local businessman to take the place of a certified K-12 educator on the South Dakota Board of Education Standards in advance of its next hearing on social studies standards.

Steve Perkins has served as the owner of Perkins Consulting in Sioux Falls since July 2005, according to his LinkedIn page. He will immediately take the seat previously occupied by Becky Guffin, who began as a fifth grade teacher in Aberdeen in 1991 and became superintendent there in 2014.

“Steve has grandkids of his own, and he realizes that their future is of the utmost importance,” Noem said in a news release. “He will always put the future of our next generation first in his approach to the Board of Education Standards, and that is why he is a great pick for this role.”

Guffin’s term on the BOES ended Dec. 31, 2022. She had been appointed to the board effective Jan. 1, 2018 by former Gov. Dennis Daugaard, and later became president of the board.

The South Dakota Board of Education Standards meets Nov. 21, 2022 in Sioux Falls at the Convention Center. From left to right: Education Secretary Tiffany Sanderson, Board president Becky Guffin, and Board vice president Terry Nebelsick.
The South Dakota Board of Education Standards meets Nov. 21, 2022 in Sioux Falls at the Convention Center. From left to right: Education Secretary Tiffany Sanderson, Board president Becky Guffin, and Board vice president Terry Nebelsick.

The shift in BOES leadership comes after dozens of local educators, Indigenous leaders, education lobbying groups and the South Dakota Education Association have repeatedly stood in opposition to the social studies standards either for their removal or lack of references to the Oceti Sakowin, or for not being age-appropriate. Opponents to the standards have largely outnumbered proponents during hearings in Sioux Falls and Aberdeen.

More:SDEA says new revision of proposed social studies standards still falls short

This reappointment also comes amid consternation from some conservatives about some educators in the Aberdeen School District who sent memos to each other against the standards, who sent in public comments opposing the standards or who testified in public hearings against the standards.

In May, Noem had also replaced Jacqueline Sly, a 37-year educator and three-year BOES member, with Rich Meyer, a retired dentist who had served on the social studies standards revision committee in 2021 but who had quit the workgroup with fellow Rep. Sue Peterson, a fellow conservative, halfway through the revision process without publicly saying why.

Peterson had called for Guffin to resign from the BOES in September over news that Guffin and other members of the Aberdeen School District were against the standards.

More:Time for 'truth and reconciliation' in South Dakota social studies standards, opponents say

“If she had problems with the standards, she should have made that known sooner in the process and been upfront about it, and not now trying to circumvent them behind the scenes,” Peterson told conservative news outlet Breitbart.

The South Dakota Board of Education Standards meets Nov. 21, 2022 in Sioux Falls at the Convention Center. From left to right: Rich Meyer, Linda Olsen, Education Secretary Tiffany Sanderson, Board president Becky Guffin, Board vice president Terry Nebelsick, Julie Westra and Phyllis Heineman.
The South Dakota Board of Education Standards meets Nov. 21, 2022 in Sioux Falls at the Convention Center. From left to right: Rich Meyer, Linda Olsen, Education Secretary Tiffany Sanderson, Board president Becky Guffin, Board vice president Terry Nebelsick, Julie Westra and Phyllis Heineman.

Perkins does have some education experience, according to a press release from Noem’s office. He taught real estate education classes and continuing education classes at Minnesota West Community and Technical College, Worthington Campus; Southwest Minnesota State University; and through Community Education at Luverne Public Schools.

Considering Perkins taught in Minnesota, he isn’t certified with the South Dakota DOE to teach K-12 students in South Dakota, as three of his peers on the board -- Terry Nebelsick, Huron superintendent; Linda Olsen, a teacher in Dupree; and Steve Willard, Belle Fourche superintendent -- are, and as his predecessor Guffin was.

Now, only three of seven BOES members are certified to teach K-12 students in South Dakota, according to a search of the South Dakota Department of Education’s Teacher 411 lookup.

More:Opponents outnumber proponents of proposed social studies standards

“Our kids are our most precious asset, and our standards should set them up with the best possible opportunity for success,” Perkins said in a news release from Noem’s office. “We need to raise the bar for our children and work to ensure that every child has the opportunity to pursue their dreams.”

Perkins received a bachelor’s degree in economics, business and political science from Macalester College, according to a press release from Noem’s office. Perkins describes the college as having the “most conservative economics department in Minnesota,” according to his LinkedIn page.

This article originally appeared on Sioux Falls Argus Leader: Noem names Aberdeen superintendent's replacement to education standards board