South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem Announces Legislation Blocking Critical Race Theory

South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem Announces Legislation Blocking Critical Race Theory
South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem addresses the Conservative Political Action Conference held in the Hyatt Regency in Orlando, Fla., on Feb. 27, 2021. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
Bill Pan

South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem has unveiled a draft legislation which she said would block critical race theory (CRT) as the basis of education in her state’s colleges and schools.

“Our schools should teach our children our nation’s true and honest history,” Noem said in a Dec. 21 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.”

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 (pdf).

If the legislation becomes law, South Dakota will join a handful of states that have successfully enacted laws to combat CRT, namely Arkansas, Idaho, Iowa, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, and South Carolina. Like the one proposed by Noem, most of these anti-CRT laws do not explicitly mention the words “critical race theory,” but instead target specific concepts and beliefs that are a part of or derived from the ideology.

The move also marks Noem’s latest step to fulfill the “1776 Pledge to Save Our Schools,” which she signed in May as a commitment to stop “anti-American indoctrination” of the younger generations.

The 1776 Pledge is largely seen as a response to New York Times’s “1619 Project,” an article series centered on highly controversial claims such as that the United States is an inherently racist nation founded to preserve slavery. A history curriculum based on the project, developed by the Pulitzer Center, has been embraced by many public school districts across the nation, including in Chicago, Illinois; Buffalo, New York; and Newark, New Jersey.

“Our children and grandchildren should be taught to take pride in their country, to respect our founding principles of liberty and equality, and to have a sense of American history that is both truthful and inspiring,” part of the 1776 Pledge reads. “Teaching children to hate their country and each other is immoral and deeply harmful to our society and must be stopped.”
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