governor’s desk

Raising the bar

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I’ve never been the type to settle for “good enough.” No matter what I’m doing, I try to strive for excellence. That’s all the more true when it comes to policies that impact our kids. Everything that I do as Governor is to make our state safer, stronger, and healthier for our kids and our grandkids, and I want to set the bar. We should set an example for the entire nation and send the message that South Dakota pursues excellence for our kids.

And that’s what we are doing with my administration’s new social studies standards.

After nearly a year of diligent work, my administration has released standards that will shape our children’s social studies education into the future. These standards focus on teaching American history and civics in a true, honest, and balanced fashion.

We won’t allow political ideologies to invade our classrooms. We are proactively removing divisive teachings like Critical Race Theory before they can infiltrate our kids’ education. We will not have our children being taught to hate.

Over the last year, there has been quite a bit of conversation about teaching the history and culture of our state’s Native American tribes. These standards do that to a greater extent than any standards that have been proposed in South Dakota to-date. That’s important – and it needs to be done in a balanced way that takes into account the full context of our nation’s history. These standards achieve that goal and give Native American history the acknowledgement that it deserves.

That education will include some difficult conversations about mistakes that were made in our nation’s interactions with our tribes. And there will be tough conversations about other mistakes made in our nation’s past. We have to learn about those mistakes so that we can take lessons from them and never repeat them.

But we must also teach our children about the tremendous triumphs in our history. Our nation’s founding was a tremendous accomplishment and marked a huge step forward for human freedom. Our nation set the bar for defense of the rights of our people. And in the years since, we have built on that to advance our freedoms to more and more of our people. These standards will tell that story.

I love our nation, and I love talking about our history. I hope that our kids will come to love it, too. My hope is that by setting the bar for social studies education, we will deliver to our kids a healthy respect for our nation’s story and the freedoms that made it possible. I hope they will grow up and pass those onto their own children, just as we’re passing it onto them.

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