Gov. Kristi Noem Did What Her Legislature Didn’t Want to Do — Ban Critical Race Theory in Classrooms

The South Dakota legislature failed to pass a bill last year that would have banned “divisive concepts” like critical race theory (CRT) in government schools. Using her power as governor, however, Kristi Noem recently barred the South Dakota Department of Education from teaching CRT in classrooms through executive order.

“Political indoctrination has no place in our classrooms,” she said in a statement. “Our children will not be taught that they are racists or that they are victims, and they will not be compelled to feel responsible for the mistakes of their ancestors. We will guarantee that our students learn America’s true and honest history – that includes both our triumphs and our mistakes.”

What the EO will do:

  • The Department of Education (DOE) shall not compel employees, students, or teachers to personally affirm, adopt, or adhere to inherently divisive concepts;

  • The Secretary of Education will review all policies within DOE to identify if any promote inherently divisive concepts;

  • DOE will review other materials and trainings  to identify if any promote or endorse inherently divisive concepts;

  • If any policies, materials, or trainings promote inherently divisive concepts, they shall end or be removed no later than October 1; and

  • Directs the Board of Education Standards to ensure South Dakota Content Standards do not promote inherently divisive concepts.

The legislature’s Republican Senate education committee was wary of banning certain ideas in the classroom. A Democratic lawmaker who voted against the bill said he worried about whether a law would water down “historical atrocities,” but Governor Noem said that wasn’t her aim. She wanted to make sure schools taught both sides of history, good and bad.

Photo credit: Gage Skidmore (Creative Commons) – Some rights reserved

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