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First meeting for reboot of social studies standards will take place behind closed doors


The controversial revision of K-12 social studies standards in South Dakota will restart this week — with a closed meeting.

A new workgroup will hold its first meeting Wednesday. It will not be open to the public or the media.

A spokeswoman for the state Department of Education said that's normal for the early stages of the standards-revision process.

"Every voice in South Dakota who wishes to have a say in the setting of state social studies standards will get their chance through public hearings, and a public comment period, that will start later this year," wrote Mary Stadick Smith in an email. "The meetings of the Social Studies Content Standards Commission are not open to the public; this is no different from previous standards reviews."

Social studies standards are reviewed every seven years. The standards provide expectations for what South Dakota students should know by each grade level.

Public interest in the standards is high after Gov. Kristi Noem stopped and rebooted the process.

An initial workgroup of educators and historians recommended revisions to social studies standards last year. But when the state Department of Education released a draft of the proposed standards, the draft did not match the recommendations. The department had removed or altered some references to Native Americans that the workgroup proposed. That prompted public criticism from some workgroup members.

Noem responded by halting the process and starting it over with a new workgroup. She has appointed her chief-of-staff as chairman of the new group.

Once the proposed standards are drafted, the draft will be open for public review. That will include four public hearings around the state.

Lee Strubinger is SDPB’s Rapid City-based news and political reporter. A former reporter for Fort Lupton Press (CO) and Colorado Public Radio, Lee holds a master’s in public affairs reporting from the University of Illinois-Springfield.
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