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Kristi Noem Signs Order Barring Critical Race Theory Instruction In Public Schools

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OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.


South Dakota GOP Gov. Kristi Noem has signed an executive order banning critical race theory curricula and instruction in the state’s K-12 schools after efforts to enact similar legislation failed.

According to Fox News, the order instructs the state Department of Education with ensuring there are no materials teaching “divisive concepts” based on race.

“Political indoctrination has no place in our classrooms,” Noem, a Republican, noted in a statement. “Our children will not be taught that they are racists or that they are victims and they will not be compelled to feel responsible for the mistakes of their ancestors.

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“We will guarantee that our students learn America’s true and honest history – that includes both our triumphs and our mistakes,” she added.

Fox News added:

Noem’s executive order comes after the state Senate Education Committee led by Republicans rejected a similar bill she proposed 4-3 in early March. The committee passed a similar bill related to the state’s university system. It bans teaching in trainings that would make people feel “discomfort” based on race. 

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Noem touted the executive order as restricting critical race theory but the term isn’t actually mentioned in the order and the order is limited to the Department of Education. School districts make much of their own curricula.

The bill drew hours of debate this year, both from those who championed it as a repudiation of critical race theory and critics who said it would silence and sanitize the most painful truths of U.S. history.

State Sen. Troy Heinert, a Democrat and member of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe who opposed the bill last month, said he worried that it would actually perpetuate racism while also diluting the teaching of historical atrocities against South Dakota Native Americans.

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Meanwhile, the American Civil Liberties Union of South Dakota accused Noem of “skirting” the legislative process with her order.

Noem pitched a bill banning CRT to the state legislature in December.

“Our schools should teach our children our nation’s true and honest history,” Noem said in a statement announcing the legislative effort. “They should teach about our successes in establishing a country that is a beacon of freedom to the world and our mistakes along the way.

“Our children should not, however, be taught the false and divisive message that they are responsible for the shortcomings of past generations and other members of our respective races,” Noem, who has been mentioned as a potential 2024 Republican presidential contender or running mate, added.

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The Epoch Times noted further:

The proposed legislation would block the teaching based on specific ideas derived from the CRT, such as that any race is inherently superior or inferior; that individuals should be discriminated or feel guilt because of their race; or that individuals are inherently responsible for actions committed in the past by those of the same race.

The ban would apply to the state’s public school districts and public colleges and universities, according to the one-page draft.

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If the legislature had passed her measure, South Dakota would have become one of a few other states thus far that have also adopted similar language to push back on CRT, which essentially teaches that every founding institution in the country is rife with racism because they were established by a white majority.

States that have passed such measures include Arkansas, Idaho, Iowa, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, and South Carolina. But like Noem’s bill, the laws in those states do not specifically mention “critical race theory,” but rather that target certain concepts and core beliefs that come from the curriculum.

It’s not clear if Noem’s order will be challenged legally.

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