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LETTER: What was behind the South Dakota standards review?

Loyalty to our own educator professionals and to our K12 children is evidently too heavy a lift for Gov. Noem to carry.

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To the Editor:

Stanley Kurtz is an American conservative commentator, author and a senior fellow at the Ethics and Stanley Public Policy Center. He has taught at Harvard University and the University of Chicago. He is also a contributing editor to National Review. 

His letter published in the Sept. 20, 2021, National Review shows, I believe, that Mr. Kurtz was instrumental in directing Gov. Noem to reverse course; to redo this expensive standards development project. And Gov. Noem dutifully did as he directed.

So now we have a Hillsdale College product that contains many topics that Florida educators have described as being easily, if not clearly, shaded for desired political perspective. Also, lots of topics are simply not appropriate for reasons given in interviews. Gov. Noem acquiesced to the outside pressure from Mr. Kurtz and from others. Loyalty to our own educator professionals and to our K12 children is evidently too heavy a lift for Gov. Noem to carry. The Kurtz letter being referenced contains admissions by Mr. Kurtz that, much to his consternation, the previous product was actually very excellent. But, he makes clear, it simply doesn’t lend itself to desirable conservative interpretations. So Gov. Noem must take action he says in the article.  

Published accounts of Florida’s training experience this summer, as it was led by Hillsdale-chosen facilitators, did indeed prove lend itself to lots of politicization. Florida participants mentioned being concerned about other K12 topics that our professional teachers believed to be questionable.

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South Dakota educators are in for a similar training experiences next summer unless DOE stands up to Gov. Noem and reverses back to the original standards product. We should hope and expect that DOE will demonstrate necessary courage and professionalism to reinstate the marvelous product that South Dakota professionals put together. 

Dave Wegner 

Sioux Falls

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