New school standards frustrating officials, parents, and teachers alike

Concerns surrounding the divisive new standards, aren’t just limited to school board meetings.
Published: Apr. 18, 2023 at 8:20 PM MDT|Updated: Apr. 19, 2023 at 5:44 PM MDT
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KEVN) - Concerns surrounding the divisive new standards, aren’t just limited to school board meetings.

It’s no secret that for the past couple of years, potential new social studies standards for South Dakota schools have been shrouded in controversy. But after many battles, arguments, and meetings, these disputed standards were approved and will be put into place in the 2025-2026 school year.

“It’s very very sad because the government didn’t listen to the people. The people spoke out loudly and yet they weren’t listened to by the elected officials who brag about being open-minded and listening. It’s very frustrating and very sad, and I hope more can be done to still try and stop it,” said rapid city common council member Pat Jones, Ward 1.

Katy Urban, communications coordinator at the Douglas School District, said the change is difficult for educators, saying they will now have to find new suppliers that have the required content, and it could cost school districts up to 1 million dollars.

“There’s going to be a tremendous cost to school districts, even though the governor said that the state is going to try and help with it. As a former educator myself, we heard that a lot, that the state was going to pay for stuff and they didn’t,” Jones continued.

There are a number of concerns that have been publicly addressed over the last few years. one concern is that the new standards will leave out the ‘why’ when it comes to history. Yet another criticism is that these standards seem to leave out Native American history, while others are concerned the new standards don’t seem grade-appropriate.

“I want my kids to get a good education. If there aren’t enough teachers to work in our state then they’re not going to get a good education. When you pay teachers the least in the nation, and you totally disrespect the profession by adopting standards they all oppose, you’re going to run short on teachers,” said Kyle Krause, a concerned parent.

The school districts now have to adopt 113 new standards, in addition to the ones currently being taught.

“If you look at the standards as they are right now not even just the social studies standards, but you look at the reading and writing standards, the literacy standards at the first-grade level, we have 68 of them. And now I have 113 social studies standers to incorporate alongside the math, the science, the health, all those other ones we have. Unfortunately, with these new standards, were not gifted, extra time in our day, and so something is going to have to be modified or excluded in order to make space for these social studies standards,” said first-grade teacher, Jen Macziewski.

1200 public comments were received on the issue, and more than 1100 of those were in opposition. Even all 9 of South Dakota’s Native American tribes showed opposition, going as far as to publicly refute them.

The new standards wouldn’t go into effect until the 2025 school year, and many are hoping that changes can still be made to reverse this decision.