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Bill preventing divisive concepts like 'Critical Race Theory' in K-12 schools fails


A measure to prevent the promotion of divisive concepts in K through 12 public schools has been defeated. After, 3 hours of testimony and discussion the Senate Education committee killed House Bill 1337 by a vote of 4 to 3.

House Bill 1337 began as an act to protect elementary and secondary students from political indoctrination. It was introduced by Governor Kristi Noem’s office as way to ban Critical Race Theory from being taught in K-12 schools. The bill was heavily amended in the House before making its way to the Senate. The final version listed six different divisive concepts that teachers could not “promote” in the classroom.

Proponents of the measure say it would keep critical race theory out of public schools.

Opponents say the bill was overly broad and would stifle honest and open discussions about racism and America’s history.

Senator V.J. Smith, a republican from Brookings, spoke against the bill.

“I see government looking over the shoulders of teachers. Freedom of speech, it’s a slippery slope and it’s what makes us different than everybody else on the planet.”

Similar legislation concerning institutions of higher education has passed the Senate Education Committee and is awaiting debate on the Senate floor. House Bill 1012 lists seven divisive concepts. The measure prevents universities and technical colleges from requiring students and employees to attend classes, training, or orientations where divisive concepts are taught or promoted.