UPDATE March 2022: A bill to protect students and employees at institutions of higher education from divisive concepts has passed both chambers and awaits the governor’s signature.

The state of South Dakota, under the leadership of Governor Kristi Noem, has comprehensively fought back against CRT in K-12 and higher education. Noem has spearheaded efforts to reject federal grants that require CRT in history and social studies lessons, directed the Board of Regents for the university system to review any CRT requirements, and repeatedly made public statements that South Dakota should reject this philosophy in all its schools. However, she still must deal with radicals in the Department of Education if she wants to achieve her goals. The public pressure has been so intense that even the teachers union has distanced itself from the NEA’s and AFT’s embrace of CRT.

K-12 Education

Gov. Noem was the first signatory on the ‘1776 Pledge To Save Our Schools’ to restore ‘patriotic education’. (source: https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/news/noem-first-1776-pledge-save-schools)

Education policy analyst Stanley Kurtz heaped praise on Noem for signing the 1776 Action pledge, saying the model of candidates and officeholders being held to their pledges, much like the Americans for Tax Reform (ATR) pledge not to raise taxes, could be a model for more positive action from politicians to resist the scourge of CRT in education. It’s not enough to say you oppose it, Kurtz writes, something must be done to stop it. (https://www.nationalreview.com/corner/noem-pledges-to-bar-action-civics-and-critical-race-theory/)

In July 2021, Noem signed an executive order banning the South Dakota Department of Education from applying for grants from the federal Department of Education that would infuse local schools with CRT in history and social studies lessons. (source: https://www.keloland.com/news/education/noem-says-executive-order-protects-students-from-critical-race-theory/)

However, the state’s cyclical review of social studies standards for K-12 education in the state were scrapped after controversy, and will start over beginning in November 2021. Noem still faces an uphill battle to rid the Department of Education of those who actively promote CRT. Kurtz put out a warning about Noem’s reliance upon education bureacrats. (source: https://www.nationalreview.com/corner/noem-puts-sd-standards-on-a-dangerous-path/)

Officials the Department of Education also voiced their opposition to CRT. (https://archive.md/IoBjQ)

When the NEA voted in favor of promoting CRT in K-12 education at their 2021 summer meeting, the SDEA voted not to take a stance. (https://www.kotatv.com/2021/07/10/south-dakota-educators-association-avoids-stance-nea-critical-race-theory-vote/)

A bill banning CRT in public schools is expected to be introduced in the state legislature in the Spring 2022 session, and given the supermajority of Republicans, it should pass.

Higher Education

In July 2021, “Noem … requested a review of policies from the South Dakota Board of Regents to ‘ensure the state’s higher education system remains focused on honest, patriotic education,’ according to a news release from the state.” (source: https://www.keloland.com/news/education/noem-says-executive-order-protects-students-from-critical-race-theory/)

“Republican South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem is pushing the state’s Board of Regents to block critical race theory and other Biden administration education curricula from state universities.” (source: https://www.dailywire.com/news/gov-kristi-noem-pushes-south-dakota-universities-to-ban-biden-backed-critical-race-theory)

“Members of the South Dakota Legislature’s Joint Committee on Appropriations drafted a letter asking two of the state’s top officials in higher education to refrain from applying for federal grants that educate on civics, but deferred action on the letter to its next meeting date.” (source: https://www.examiner.net/story/news/education/2021/07/21/critical-race-theory-crt-grants-south-dakota-lawmakers-draft-letter-asking-sd-colleges-grants/8044658002/)