The South Dakota Department of Education has released a set of proposed social studies standards Monday morning assembled by a workgroup tasked with retooling the existing standards.
News of the new set of the proposed standards comes almost one year after Noem announced she'd relaunch the social studies standards revision process, following the revelation the state had removed more than a dozen references to the Oceti Sakowin from a workgroup's draft of social studies standards.
The changes prompted outrage from nearly 600 people who submitted public comment against the proposed changes, and sparked an Oceti Sakowin March for Our Children on the state Capitol in September.
This new set of proposed standards should be "free from political agendas and activism," according to a description posted by the DOE.
These new standards should also include the following, the DOE states:
Genuine content in the form of specific stories, historical figures, maps, research, images, and historical documents;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, like any love, is not blind to faults; and
Who put the standards together?
The workgroup that put together the new, proposed set of standards includes the following people, some of whom Gov. Kristi Noem had a hand in picking and appointing to the workgroup:
Mark Miller, Gov. Kristi Noem’s chief of staff, will chair the commission
William Morrisey, who once taught at Hillsdale College, facilitated the workgroup. Morrisey will be paid $200,000 from the DOE for his work when it's complete, including for facilitating meetings and public hearings.
Joe Circle Bear, citizen of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe
Janet Finzen, a resident of North Sioux City and a teacher at Winnebago Public School in Nebraska
Stephanie Hiatt, an alum of the University of Sioux Falls, doctorate of education and member of the Seminole Tribe of Florida
Ben Jones, state historian and former DOE secretary
Dylan Kessler, director of operations at Primrose Retirement Communities
Aaron Levisay, former facilities manager in the U.S. Military
Christopher Motz, director of the South Dakota Catholic Conference
Shaun Nielsen, social studies teacher at West Middle School in Rapid City
Fred Osborn, State Director of Indian Education
Jon Schaff, professor of political science and director of the Center for Public History and Civic Engagement at Northern State University
Mary Shuey, a retired teacher who once taught in the Dakota Valley School District and whose teaching certificate is now invalid
Rep. Tamara St. John, a Republican from Sisseton
Samantha Walder, principal of Legacy Elementary School in Tea
Sen. John Wiik, a Republican from Big Stone City
On that workgroup are at least 13 registered Republicans, and only three people with active South Dakota K-12 teaching certificates. Last year, the workgroup had more than 40 members, and this year, it has only 15. The DOE said it received 203 applications from people wishing to join this year's workgroup.
What will they learn? Patriotism
“Debating current political positions or partaking in political activism at the bequest of a school or teacher does not belong in a K-12 social studies class, and the color of one’s skin does not determine what one can or should learn,” reads one of the 10 guiding principles for “high quality standards” in the new document.
The principles also state that social studies standards will follow the natural, chronological order of historical events, and that social studies skills, history, geography, civics and economics should be included at every grade level.
In seventh grade, students will be taught to give examples of patriotism.
Also in seventh grade and high school, students will learn to explain patriotism as one’s love of the country, “meaning that one holds his or her country up to an objective standard of moral right and wrong, preserving the ways in which the country does good and correcting the ways it sometimes does wrong.”
Comparisons to the 2021 standards document
One of the “notable adjustments” the DOE lists in the document is “expanded South Dakota and Native American history and civics.” The workgroup expanded education about the history and government of the state, tribe, reservation and locality from one unit in elementary school to American history standards.
“This ensures students study the history of South Dakota and Native Americans frequently and in a manner that shows their contribution to the overall American story,” the document states.
A separate one-semester high school elective class on South Dakota and Native American history and civics may be developed, the document states.
“This can be an effective way to encourage soon-to-graduate students to learn, love and choose to live in their home state of South Dakota,” the document states.
This new set of proposed standards includes 30 references to the Oceti Sakowin, more than the 25 references included in the 2021 workgroup’s proposed standards, and more than the three references in the draft of standards the DOE released in 2021.
This set of proposed standards sits at 128 pages, which is more than twice as long as the 2021 workgroup’s proposed standards (60 pages) and the draft of standards the DOE released in 2021 (56 pages).
Inclusion of Indigenous history
In first grade American History, students will learn to describe the similarities and differences in lifestyle, traditional warfare and culture between two “historical pre-Columbian Native American tribes,” one from the Oceti Sakowin Oyate and others including but not limited to the Mandan, Arikara, Cheyenne, Crow and Hidatsa.
From there, students must demonstrate knowledge of European exploration and settlement of “what would become the United States,” including explaining “various European motivations for exploration,” the biography of Christopher Columbus and “how smallpox decimated Native Americans.”
In second grade, seventh grade and high school, students will learn about the removal and relocation of the Dakota, Lakota and Nakota. In fifth grade, students will learn to tell the stories of the Battle of Little Bighorn, the Massacre of Wounded Knee, Crazy Horse, Sitting Bull, Big Foot, Red Cloud and Black Elk.
In fifth and eighth grade and in high school, students will also learn about the effects of boarding schools on Native Americans, including the U.S. government’s enactment of compulsory attendance of Native American children and its enforcement on reservations in South Dakota.
In seventh grade and high school, students will learn about the Treaty of Fort Laramie, Treaty of Yankton, Dakota War, the Fetterman Fight (Battle of One Hundred Slain), the Battle of Little Big Horn (Battle of the Greasy Grass), the role of Indian agencies, and the emerging divisions within tribes regarding relationships with the U.S. government.
In seventh grade, students will be able to describe history and major cultural elements of the Oceti Sakowin Oyate, including the meaning of kinship, the creation story, traditional warfare, important symbols, celebrations, music, artwork, celebrations, honoring, ceremony and powwow.
In eighth grade, students will explain instances of “conflict, cooperation and duplicity” among Native Americans, settlers and governing bodies in the Dakota Territory during the late 19th century, including the Wounded Knee Massacre, the work of the Indian Bureau, Agreement of 1877, Dawes Act, 1889 Sioux Treaty and the Meriam Report.
Eighth graders and high schoolers will also learn the extent to which treaties made between the U.S. and tribes were followed and broken, including the historical and contemporary effects of the Agreement of 1877.
In high school, students will learn about the interactions between settlers, governing bodies and Native Americans in South Dakota prior to the Civil War, including the Treaty of Traverse des Sioux, conflict with the Brule Sioux Tribe, U.S. military presence in Oceti Sakowin country and the role of Christian missionaries in the region.
Further topics and historical figures explored in high school include:
Red Cloud’s War
Great Sioux War of 1876
The roles of Crazy Horse, Sitting Bull, Spotted Tail, Gabriel Renville, Generals George Crook, Nelson Miles and George Armstrong Custer
The early policies of Newton Edmunds
Sisseton-Wahpeton Treaty of 1867
Laramie Treaty of 1868
The Grant Administration’s prohibition of settlers in the black Hills
The U.S. Senate’s rejection of various treaties made in bad faith in the 1880s
Appropriations, resources and farming training offered through treaties
Reform efforts of Carl Schurz in the Indian Bureau
Theodore Roosevelt’s appointment of Indian school superintendents within the Indian Bureau
The disarming and dismounting of the Sioux in 1877
The abuse of the Dawes Act of 1887
The Sioux Agreement of 1889’s violation of the Laramie Treaty (United States v. Sioux Nation, 1980)
Land compensation in beef rations and their subsequent reduction by the U.S. government
Corruption and incompetence in the Indian Bureau
Efforts to secure civil rights for Native Americans by Ben Reifel, Vine Deloria Jr. and Russell Means
Mount Rushmore added to the standards
Also included in the standards are six references to Mount Rushmore, where at the base of the monument near Keystone, there was protest from many Lakota people on July 3, 2020 when President Donald Trump visited for an Independence Day celebration with fireworks.
The monument is also one Gov. Kristi Noem has defended multiple times on the national stage, even once tweeting the monument would not be blown up on her watch.
Protestors there on that date had called for the return of the Black Hills, including Mount Rushmore, to the Lakota people. It was a call Lakota people had been making for centuries, and was put on an international stage by the president’s arrival and media coverage of the protest.
According to the proposed standards, students must be able to identify and explain the meaning of Mount Rushmore among other symbols in kindergarten, identify the man-made landmark in second grade, and locate the landmark in seventh grade and high school.
In eighth grade, students must be able to describe the carving of Mount Rushmore by Gutzon Borglum, and the carving of the Crazy Horse Memorial. In high school, they must be able to describe the carvings as well as the roles of the sculptors.
Other major historical figures and events in the standards
Students must also explain why slavery is morally evil in first grade, and in second, fifth and seventh grade, they will learn about the lives of slaves on southern plantations and at slave auctions, including cultural developments among African Americans in slavery. They’ll also learn about the work of the abolitionist movement and leading abolitionists like Frederick Douglass and Harriet Tubman.
In fourth grade, students will learn to explain the different positions on slavery among “the founders and their generation,” including those who did not hold slaves and worked for its abolition, those who held slaves but wished for its abolition, and those who were in favor of slavery and its continuation.
In eighth grade and high school, students will identify the targets of the Ku Klux Klan and lynching, and the ways in which different governments did or did not attempt to protect them.
In eighth grade, students will learn about the civil rights movement, including the efforts of Rosa Parks, Ruby Bridges, Martin Luther King Jr., the Montgomery Bus Boycott, Malcolm X, Greensboro sit-ins, the Freedom Riders and the March on Washington.
They will then learn about the Civil Rights Act and Voting Rights Act, and actions taken on behalf of African Americans after the Civil Rights Act passed, including the Selma to Montgomery March, Black Panther Party, affirmative action and civil unrest.
In high school, students will learn about the ways certain local and state laws, federal policies and court decisions explicitly discriminated against people on the basis of skin color from Reconstruction through World War II, including the following:
Jim Crow laws
Literacy tests and poll taxes
Segregation of the armed forces and government offices
Chinese Exclusion Act
Plessy v. Ferguson
Woodrow Wilson’s re-segregating of federal offices
Korematsu v. United States
In fourth and sixth grade, students will learn about Jesus of Nazareth, Mohammed and major historical events, cultural features, stories and religious contributions of the early Christians and early Muslims. In high school, students will learn to explain the influence of Jewish and Christian views of a deity and of human beings on the colonists.
Students will also learn about other historical events -- like women’s suffrage and major suffragists, Karl Marx, different presidencies and the Trail of Tears, for example -- multiple times throughout their K-12 education
Public comments can be submitted on the new set of proposed standards online to the DOE. Before the standards are adopted, they will be heard in at least four meetings of the Board of Education Standards across the state throughout the next year, with public input time available.
This article originally appeared on Sioux Falls Argus Leader: South Dakota Dept. of Education new social studies standards released