Social studies standards would benefit from compromise and more work
The public listens to testimony on the proposed social studies standards at the South Dakota Board of Education meeting at The Rushmore Hotel in Rapid City on Feb. 10, 2023. (Courtesy of South Dakota Education Association)
A final vote on the proposed social studies standards by the South Dakota Board of Education Standards will be on the agenda for the April 17 meeting in Pierre. This is the last of four statutorily required meetings during the public comment process. As the only principal who served on the 2022 Revision Commission, I am not satisfied with the final proposal. We can do better for our South Dakota students and teachers.
Social studies education matters to all of us. The next generation of South Dakotans needs to know and understand the rights and responsibilities that come with being an American citizen.
Social studies news and commentary
- Opponents urge board to ‘go back to the drawing board’ for social studies standards
- Commentary: Social studies debate shows concerning shift from standards to curriculum
- Board of Education hears more comments on proposed social studies standards
- Social Studies standards revision meeting draws nearly 900 public comments before deadline
In our South Dakota schools, the teachers and principals I work with each day are teaching a true and honest history of our Founding Fathers, both their sins and their successes. As principals, we do our job as instructional leaders to hold teachers accountable to the state standards and to apply brain science as well as short-cycle improvement science to immediately improve practices to promote student growth and understanding of challenging content in all subjects.
Educators, parents and local school boards alike provided feedback in opposition to the proposed K-12 Social Studies Content Standards. The opposition concerns include but are not limited to the lack of the inclusion of educators or transparency in the review process, the lack of developmental appropriateness of the content, the lack of South Dakota and Native American history at appropriate grade levels, and the overreach of state government into local school board decisions as the standards are oftentimes detailed like a curriculum.
Specifically, the class time needed to meet the secondary standards would not allow students to take all career and technical education coursework, such as the agricultural coursework required for FFA participation, and advanced welding or construction technology courses needed for critical workforce development in South Dakota today.
So far, 940 concerned citizens have submitted opposition (87% of the comments) and at least 27 local, public school boards have passed resolutions in opposition.
In the spirit of the American promise of compromise, the summer of 2022 commission members could reconvene alongside the summer of 2021 committee of teachers. We could find consensus taking into consideration the overwhelming number of public comments provided as well as testimony delivered at all four public hearings.
- Information about the April 17 meeting of the Board of Education Standards is available on the state’s Boards and Commissions website.
- A copy of the proposed social studies standards is available on the state Department of Education website.
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