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Draft social studies standards drawing criticism

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Voices across South Dakota are responding to a new set of draft social studies standards for schools.

The controversy began last year when the state Department of Education altered a committee's proposed standards. The alterations removed some references to Native Americans. Governor Kristi Noem responded to the controversy by appointing a new committee. That new committee released its own set of draft standards this week.

Now that draft is coming under scrutiny. Mary Bowman is the founder of the Oceti Sakowin Community Academy in Rapid City. She says students need an accurate education that includes “the good, the bad, and the ugly.” She says the draft standards tell a “lie about our state’s history.”

And the South Dakota Education Association says in a statement that it has concerns about the draft standards. The association says the standards for lower grades require a level of memorization that’s inappropriate for early learners. And the association says the upper-grade standards are not challenging enough for older students.

A release from state government announcing the draft says the new standards include “fostering a love of country” and “instruction free from political agendas and activism.”

C.J. Keene is a Rapid City-based journalist covering education, healthcare, arts and culture.
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