Gov. Kristi Noem signs executive order limiting critical race theory in K-12 schools – Argus Leader

gov.-kristi-noem-signs-executive-order-limiting-critical-race-theory-in-k-12-schools-–-argus-leader

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Gov. Kristi Noem signed an executive order Tuesday that she said will limit the influence of “divisive concepts” in K-12 schools.Noem’s move follows the failure of a bill that she proposed during the legislative session similar to the executive order. That bill, House Bill 1337, was killed in the Senate Education committee on a 4-3 vote.However, the same committee passed a similar bill, House Bill 1012, pertaining to the state’s higher education system. Noem has signed HB 1012 into law.Her order points to critical race theory as a “political and divisive ideology that teaches a distorted view of the U.S. and its institutions,” Noem said.Critical race theory (CRT) is an academic theory that states race is a social construct, that racism isn’t just the product of individual bias or prejudice, and racism is embedded in the nation’s legal systems and policies. Top education officials in K-12 and colleges have said CRT largely doesn't show up in South Dakota's content standards or curriculum.More: Senate committee kills 'divisive concepts' bill for K-12 schools after passing similar one for colleges“(CRT) compels students to view the world through a purely racial lens and to judge others based on the color of their skin rather than the content of their character,” Noem states in the executive order.Here, Noem invokes Martin Luther King Jr., who famously said, "I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character."Education, she argues, should be free from undue bias and “political indoctrination,” and students should also be “empowered to think for themselves.”Rep. Jamie Smith, a Sioux Falls Democrat and one of Noem’s challengers for the gubernatorial race, reacted on Twitter. “Once again, Noem refuses to work with South Dakota leaders to make the state better,” he posted.What’s in the executive order?The executive order states South Dakota’s accredited K-12 schools and the Department of Education shall not direct or compel department employees, students, teachers or school district employees to affirm, adopt or adhere to “inherently divisive concepts.”Those divisive concepts include the following: That one race, color, religion, sex, ethnicity, or national origin is inherently superior to another race, color, religion, sex, ethnicity or national origin;That an individual should be discriminated against or adversely treated solely or partly on the basis of his or her race, color, religion, sex, ethnicity or national origin;That an individual’s moral character is inherently determined by his or her race, color, religion, sex, ethnicity or national origin;That an individual, by virtue of the individual’s race, color, religion, sex, ethnicity or national origin, is inherently racist, sexist or oppressive, whether consciously or subconsciously;That an individual, by virtue of the individual’s race, color, religion, sex, ethnicity or national origin, is responsible for actions committed in the past by other members of the same race, color, religion, sex, ethnicity or national origin; or,That meritocracy or traits, such as a strong work ethic, are racist or sexist, or were created by a particular race or sex to oppress members of another race or sex.Noem’s order also tasks the Secretary of Education, a position currently filled by Tiffany Sanderson, as well as the DOE, to review all DOE policies and identify if any promote inherently divisive concepts, and end those policies no later than Oct. 1.More: 'Nobody teaches a class on critical race theory': CRT's perceived influence in South Dakota educationThe Secretary and DOE also must provide a report to the governor’s office by July 1 detailing any policies, guidelines, websites, best practices, materials, programs, training or content standards that promote “inherently divisive concepts” and identify any necessary administrative or legislative action needed to end the use of those concepts.Noem’s order also prompts the DOE to review all content standards and remove any that include the “inherently divisive concepts.”Why take the executive, not legislative, route?In final arguments against HB 1337, 12 proponents argued it would keep CRT out of K-12 classrooms, and would keep students safe from discrimination or radical agendas.But 13 opponents of the bill said it didn’t give clear direction to educators, questioned “promoting” concepts as opposed to “teaching” concepts, and argued it would have a chilling effect on South Dakota’s educators and censor classroom discussions.They also argued there are already avenues to avoid teaching divisive concepts, such as the standards revision and adoption process that the Board of Education Standards uses, and routes to revoke or suspend teacher licenses if they teach anything divisive.More: Gov. Kristi Noem signs bill limiting 'divisive concepts,' critical race theory in collegesSanderson had stood as a proponent of the bill. Sen. Blake Curd questioned her support of the bill then, and questioned if promotion of divisive concepts is currently a problem in South Dakota’s schools. Sanderson said it’s not a systemic problem, but some specific instances of this issue were handled in local school districts.In the past, Sanderson has told the Argus Leader she saw CRT a “catch-all phrase” with a lot of different meanings from a lot of different groups.Mary Stadick Smith, deputy secretary for the DOE, said to the best of her knowledge, CRT is not being taught in K-12 schools.Local schools make decisions about curriculum, which is meant to teach to the state’s content standards. CRT doesn’t show up in the state’s content standards, Mary Stadick Smith told the Argus Leader in past interviews.
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