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Members of the South Dakota Legislature’s Joint Committee on Appropriations drafted a letter asking two of the state’s top officials in higher education to refrain from applying for federal grants that educate on civics, but deferred action on the letter to its next meeting date. A draft of the letter Wednesday asks Brian Maher, executive director of the South Dakota Board of Regents, and Nick Wendell, executive director of the Board of Technical Education, to delay applying for federal grants that educate on American history or civics.The lawmakers deferred sending the drafted letter on Wednesday because Maher and Wendell might want to send a response. A date for the next meeting has not yet been determined.Lawmakers also ask that educators delay developing history or civics curriculum for K-12 or higher education, and delay training for history and civics teachers, until after the South Dakota Legislature has had an opportunity to address and act upon legislative initiatives on civics in next year’s session.The state’s development of a K-12 civics and history curriculum is already underway, after Gov. Kristi Noem’s successful $900,000 push last spring for educators to develop more South Dakota-specific materials.More: What will it take for South Dakota to have a culturally responsive civics and history curriculum ?No grant applications should be made until the Legislature has “disposed of” legislative proposals on the topics of civics and history, the letter states.SDBOR spokesperson Janelle Toman said Wednesday she’s not aware of any application at the Board level being made for such types of grants.And as of May, Regents were already investigating if topics like critical race theory are taught anywhere among the state’s six public universities.This letter comes two months after a similar letter was penned by the same committee toward the South Dakota Department of Education, asking the DOE not to pursue any federal grants for history and civics curriculum until the entire Legislature meets to address critical race theory.The DOE wasn’t planning on applying for any federal grants related to civics and history at that time, either, spokesperson Ruth Raveling told the Argus Leader.More: South Dakota lawmakers tell Department of Education to not pursue federal grants for history, civics classesIn this latest letter, legislators say they anticipate legislation barring “action civics” or “project-based civics” from South Dakota’s education system will come up in the next session.Anticipated legislation, they write, would also bar the state’s education system from training or promotion on topics such as “wokism, critical social justice, neo-Marxism, and cultural Marxism.”Under that sub-ideological umbrella is also “critical race theory, whiteness studies, decolonization studies, postcolonial studies, fat studies, intersectionality and other radical ideologies rooted in the conflict theory perspective,” they wrote.More about critical race theory in education: School board debate: Critical race theory, transparency among hot topics at school board candidate debateDOE Secretary Tiffany Sanderson: State's top education official joins growing list of critical race theory critics in South DakotaGov. Noem: University system should investigate if state funds are used to teach critical race theorySDBOR: Regents already investigating if critical race theory is taught at state's 6 public universitiesStandards review process: Conservatives resign from group retooling South Dakota social studies standardsLawmakers believe such concepts are “often ushered into universities using ill-defined, unproven, tendentious concepts” labeled “implicit bias” and “systemic racism.”Educators should continue to consult with the committee before they apply for any federal grants in the areas of American history or civics education, develop history or civics curriculum or more in the years ahead.This letter comes four months after the same committee considered stripping $275,000 in funding from the University of South Dakota to defund the college’s diversity office.More: From indoctrination to Woki-Leaks, a clash of ideologies is coming to higher ed in South DakotaThe movement foreshadows a spring 2022 legislative session in which there may be a clash of ideologies over the state’s higher education system, and differences of opinion on whether universities should work to promote diversity, equity and inclusion.Of the 18 lawmakers on the committee, 16 are Republicans and two are Democrats. Lawmakers on the committee include: Rep. Linda Duba (D)Rep. Mary Fitzgerald (R)Rep. Randy Gross (R)Rep. Steven Haugaard (R)Rep. Taffy Howard (R)Rep. Chris Karr (R)Rep. Liz May (R)Rep. John Mills (R)Rep. Tina Mulally (R)Sen. Bryan Breitling (R)Sen. Brock Greenfield (R)Sen. Jean Hunhoff (R)Sen. David Johnson (R)Sen. Jack Kolbeck (R)Sen. Ryan Maher (R)Sen. Reynold Nesiba (D)Sen. Maggie Sutton (R)Sen. John Wiik (R)See the full letter below.
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