Critical Race Theory Is Not the Basis for Instruction at South Dakota’s Colleges: Regents

By Masooma Haq
Masooma Haq
Masooma Haq
August 6, 2021 Updated: August 6, 2021

South Dakota Board of Regents announced on Thursday that Critical Race Theory (CRT) is not currently, nor in the future, the basis for instruction at public universities in the state.

The South Dakota Board of Regents said their history program will include instruction on America’s flaws and mistakes so students can learn from the past but it will also focus on American values and teach students to appreciate the nation’s founding principles.

“Part of that instruction is to acknowledge and discuss America’s flaws and mistakes so that we can learn from them and improve,” it says. “Critical Race Theory is not the basis for instruction in our state universities and it’s not going to be. But this is a label that means different things to different people,” said S.D. Regent Board member (pdf), Tony Venhuizen, prior to the publishing of the Board of Regents’ statement known as “Opportunity for All.”

South Dakota’s Governor Kristi Noem sent a letter (pdf) to the president and members of the board of regents in May to ask them to assess if CRT, which the governor is concerned is unpatriotic, was being taught in the state’s education facilities.

“That’s why our board today is taking a step back and stating the American values that will continue to guide the university system,” Venhuizen added.

Noem responded to the board of regents by saying the decision by the board was a step forward, “in our quest to resist the harmful effects this ideology can have on students and preserve honest, patriotic education.”

“I am grateful the Board of Regents is taking steps to address this divisive subject and limit its application in our university classrooms. Critical Race Theory, the 1619 Project, and the works of Ibram Kendi divide students, distort their understanding of history, and seek to indoctrinate them with anti-patriotic rhetoric,” said Noem.

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South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem speaks to attendees at the NCGOP convention in Greenville, N.C., on June 5, 2021. (Melissa Sue Gerrits/Getty Images)

Each of the 50 states has a Board of Regents which is an independent governing body that oversees a state’s public colleges and universities.

The board’s “Opportunity for All” statement stresses that their state’s education institutions will provide opportunities for each student, safeguard American traditions, and teach the ideas that made the country exceptional, so students feel pride in the United States.

In addition, the curriculum used will be based upon “widely held and accepted knowledge and thought.”

CRT is a quasi-Marxist ideology that interprets society through the lens of a racial struggle, sees inherent racism in the foundations of Western societies, which it seeks to fundamentally transform to end this claimed racial oppression. An effort to incorporate the theory in U.S. schools has been pushed by progressive politicians, activists, and major teachers’ unions, drawing backlash from parents and conservatives. CRT labels all American institutions as systemically racist and calls for the dismantling of those institutions.

CRT has been promoted under other names, such as “equity,” “anti-racist,” or “culturally responsive” initiatives. Speakers like Ibram X. Kendi (American author, professor, anti-racist activist), get paid to diagnose an organization as “systemically racist,” prescribe CRT-based initiatives as the remedy, and then consultants help institutions implement it.

Epoch Times Photo
Ibram Kendi discusses the book “Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You” at Build Studio in New York City on March 10, 2020. (Michael Loccisano/Getty Images)

Keisha N. Blain, co-author with Kendi on the book “Four Hundred Souls: A Community History of African America, 1619–2019,” and advocate for the implementation of CRT throughout American institutions, explained Blain in an interview.

“So, Critical Race Theory, I think, is important for helping us understand race as a social construction, but also understanding how race and racism permeate the law, as well as how it permeates various aspects of society and, you know, the way to fix a problem is to confront it, not to run away from it, and so when we first talk about racism and we say that we want to dismantle oppressive systems,” Blain told MSNBC on June 24.

“The first way to do that is to recognize what the problems are and Critical Race Theory will help you confront what the problems are, will help you see how racism functions in American society, and then you’ll be able to participate in the process of dismantling these structures and making sure that we create a more democratic and inclusive society,” Blain added.

In July, South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem signed an executive order banning the state Department of Education from applying for federal grants tied to Critical Race Theory and action civics.

Masooma Haq
Masooma Haq