Struggle for SD social studies standards pushes back Indian education conference

PIERRE, SD (KELO) – The South Dakota Indian Education Conference that was scheduled for October 25 has been rescheduled.

The new dates are November 15 and 16, India’s Director of Education Fred Osborn said on Thursday.

The reason for the change was the decision to postpone the next meeting of the state’s Education Standards Board until Oct. 25.

This meeting was originally scheduled for Monday, September 20. But controversy over proposed content standards for social studies resulted in the public hearing in Aberdeen being postponed to a larger venue.

Then, on Monday, Governor Kristi Noem ordered the proposed social studies standards withdrawn. It happened on the same day that a writer for The National Review sharply criticized the state’s Department of Education for being too liberal and mismanaging the process.

Among the problems was the removal of some Native American references by the education ministry from a draft that had been assembled by a group of educators, historians and others sanctioned by the ministry.

Several hundred people marched in front of Pierre during a demonstration on September 13. State Highway Patrol soldiers were stationed at the Capitol’s first and second floor entrances in the hours surrounding the march.

Osborn told the state’s Indian Education Advisory Council on Thursday that his office supported the governor’s directive to step down.

“At the moment, there is no process identification of what this delay means,” he said.

The Indian education office was transferred from the Ministry of Education to the Ministry of Tribal Relations shortly after Noem took office as governor in 2019.

An attempt to push him back missed a vote in the state Senate earlier this year.

Osborn was part of the group that put together the draft standards. He said voters and educators asked him for a statement. He said the office supports the governor’s delay so that further contributions can be received. “I believe it is necessary,” he said.

For more than a decade, the Indian Bureau of Education has provided schools in South Dakota with a Native American-based educational toolkit known as the Oceti Sakowin Essential Understandings.

Osborn said his office will continue this effort.

Public comments on the proposed social standards will remain open during the delay, Osborn said. “So please give your public comment. “

He asked if any council member wanted to make a statement. There was only silence.

Earlier Thursday, Osborn said the Indian education conference would be virtual and free this year. He said registrations would open next week on the websites of his office and the Department of Tribal Relations.

The theme is the social and mental well-being of Native American students. He said the breakout sessions would be recorded and made available for viewing.

“There is really great training this year to identify those with mental health issues,” he said.

Joe Moran of the Department of Education provided updates on a survey of Oceti Sakowin’s Essential Understandings that is underway with some 800 principals in public, private, federal and tribal schools across South Dakota .

Moran said he would come back with the directors of tribal education on the results of the survey and expected there would be a presentation to the Board of Education Standards at a meeting later this year. Moran said he doesn’t expect anything definitive from the investigation until the end of 2021. “It’s not as simple as adding up who said yes and who said no,” he said. declared.

Moran also said the two departments were working on an “innovation setup” map that school districts could use to implement change, such as increased use of Oceti Sakowin’s core understandings.

The final version will be completed in the coming weeks and will then be released for schools to use, with some serving as pilots.

“There are still mountains to climb, we are aware of these mountains and look forward to the challenge,” said Moran.

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