South Dakota’s proposed social studies standards had their second hearing, recently.
Opponents and proponents shared their sentiments with the state Board of Education Standards – who will ultimately make the decision – on the proposed standards in a more than three hour long hearing in Sioux Falls on November 21.
Those in favor argued the rigors in the proposed standards were good for students and trusted by parents, who had lost some trust in teachers.
“They (standards) might be hard to teach, but I ask that you trust in our kids and trust in our parents,” Jessica Pollema testified. “Start restoring the trust that has been lost between parents and teachers.”
Fellow proponent, Sen. Maggie Sutton said the proposed standards offered a lifeline to South Dakota’s public schools.
“We do need to embrace these Social Studies standards,” Sen. Sutton declared. “If we do not start now, we will not have a public education system worth supporting, much less sending our kids too.”
Opponents focused their critiques on what the proposed standards were missing in key areas and process by which they were selected.
Watertown Superintendent Dr. Jeff Danielsen said the volume of the standards “takes away from” time needed to teach other subjects to students at the elementary level and has a “focus on lower level thinking at the high school level.”
While former teacher Eric Toft said the proposed standards “all but eliminate geography” and current Lennox School District Teacher RoxAnn Neeman said the proposal lacked focus on South Dakota and its history, which the current standards provided, and her students loved learning about.
Current South Dakota teacher and a member of the 2015 social studies standards group Brianne Bolstad said in the development of the current proposed standards there was an absence of teacher representation.
SDEA Executive Director Ryan Rolfs asked the BOE if they’d listen to the concerns of South Dakota educators.
“Will you listen to our state’s professional educators?” Rolfs questioned. “Because they’re speaking up.”
SD DOE Division of Learning and Instruction Director Shannon Malone shared with BOE members the state had “received 968 public comments” with proponent comments totaling 103, neutral comments at 37 and 828 comments from opponents.
ASBSD has drafted a sample school board resolution as an option for your board to consider should you wish to collectively state your opposition to the proposed Social Studies Standards, which you can download here.
The next hearing on the proposed social studies standards will be held on Saturday, February 11 in Pierre.