South Dakota education legislation being shaped by national politics

The extent to which national political movements sway South Dakota’s legislative priorities was rarely more evident than during a House Education Committee hearing in Pierre in early February 2022.

On the agenda was House Bill 1337, one of several education measures brought by Gov. Kristi Noem to keep critical race theory and “inherently divisive concepts” out of state classrooms, in this case by shielding elementary and secondary students from “political indoctrination” through race-based history, social science and civics.

After remarks by Allen Cambon, one of Noem’s senior policy advisors, committee members heard remotely from Stanley Kurtz, a conservative commentator and senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington, D.C. Kurtz was well-positioned to testify because much of the bill directly matched language from “The Partisanship Out of Civics Act,” model legislation he drafted in early 2021 to help Republican-led statehouses fight against public schools becoming what he termed “playthings of the Left.”

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