Gov. Kristi Noem is laying out a decidedly right-wing agenda ahead of South Dakota’s 2022 legislative session, which also kicks off an election year in this state. Last week, she unveiled legislation addressing school prayer (sort of) and transgender athletes, and on Monday, she took aim at Critical Race Theory (CRT).

But, like her prayer legislation — which really doesn’t do much to specifically address prayer at all — her CRT proposal is a vague measure designed more to hit some hot-button culture war topics than to deal with relevant issues.

First, this is a reminder of how CRT is defined, according to EdWeek.org: “The core idea is that race is a social construct, and that racism is not merely the product of individual bias or prejudice, but also something embedded in legal systems and policies.”

Meanwhile, it has been reported that Critical Race Theory is not currently taught anywhere in the state, either in public school or at the college level. One South Dakota university official told the Sioux Falls Argus-Leader last summer that he had to turn to the Internet to find out what Critical Race Theory even was when it became a conservative battle cry.

Thus, this is much more about political calculus than about classroom education.

In a press release announcing the anti-CRT legislation, the governor stated, “Americans believe ‘all men are created equal,’ and we also believe the American dream is available to all regardless of race, color or national origin. Our schools should teach our children our nation’s true and honest history. 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.”

That seems sensible, at least on the surface.

But once again, like the prayer measure, it wades into nebulous territory, being purposely vague so that its intent may dwell in the eye of the beholder.

The proposal is more interesting to consider in the light of last year’s effort to redefine social studies standards in the state. After a task force submitted a proposal and mission statement that included a strong Native American component, the final document was altered, removing many of the references to Native American culture. Amid an uproar, Noem eventually put the process on hold, then decided to start over.

That might cast a little more insight into the intent of the proposed CRT legislation.

Also, we must reiterate the very real concern that “banning CRT” will become a rallying cry (or an excuse) to purge some racial issues out of American history altogether.

In Tennessee earlier this fall, a group called Moms for Liberty filed a complaint with that state’s Department of Education (DOE) that a textbook that focuses on civil rights leaders like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. violates that state’s CRT ban, Newsweek reported. The group claimed that the book violated the law’s mandate that individuals should not “feel discomfort, guilt, anguish or another form of psychological distress solely because of the individual’s race or sex.” (Noem’s proposal just happens to feature very similar language.) Tennessee’s DOE rejected the claim.

Nevertheless, the danger remains that some might use an anti-CRT law to delete such elements from a school curriculum, or that a school district might shy away from any material that could be construed in a CRT context. The proposal also works with a lot of subjectivity: For instance, how does a law define “discomfort” or “distress” in this context?

So, the proposal addresses a problem that technically does not exist in this state, but it could be used to impact the teaching of other matters, such as slavery or Native American land and cultural issues.

The bottom line is, this legislation could create far more problems than it addresses.

kmh

(18) comments

RFL

“The lady doth protest too much, methinks.”

SoDakD

What could be more obvious?

“The core idea [of CRT] is that race is a social construct, and that racism is not merely the product of individual bias or prejudice, but also something embedded in legal systems and policies.”

Alexis de Tocqueville, that perceptive Frenchman who gave us so many insights into the American character observed way back in 1830:

“Three races [Euro-Americans, African-Americans and Native Americans], naturally distinct, and, I might almost say, hostile to each other, are discoverable amongst them [Americans] at the first glance. Almost insurmountable barriers have been raised between them by education and by law…”

Tocqueville saw the obvious, but Americans are still denying it.

VoiceforAll

Why are the democrats so determined to teach our children that white people are inherently racists and oppressors and minorities are constantly victimized? How does a mixed race couple, for example a white mother and a black father, tell their child that their mother is racists and you need to under that she is a bad person because she is white, how do you do that? CRT wants to rewrite our Constitution, they want to destroy our American history and are doing so by removing statues from public spaces and rewriting history books. The democrats want to continue dividing this country into whites versus everyone else, democrats thrive on turmoil and their continued efforts of pushing CRT onto our children right along with the Black Lives Matter movement, whom also support CRT, are doing nothing more than dividing this nation more and more everyday. CRT should not be taught to our children, democrats believe in early indoctrination of young people into their way of thinking, and if they can teach children that all white people are racists and always will be, that is a win for democrats but another lose for America that is already suffering from too many loses during this last year of Biden and the democrats.

SoDakD

In short, your mischaracterization of CRT is just setting up a “straw man” argument you can easily win. No one would support CRT as you describe it.

But this is not what CRT is, and no school board is actually teaching CRT.

What RFL said concerning Governor Noem seems to apply here. You “doth protest too much.”

SoDakD

“Well done,” Voice. 🤣🙄😳

Excellent job of ignoring what CRT really is and repeating the right wing spin on why we should avoid teaching an obvious historic reality.

It’s this misinformation and not CRT that’s promoting angry division among us.

Though in truth, this misinformation has been among us since well before Tocqueville’s keen eye made his observations almost 200 years ago.

Your main tie to our shared history is your espousal of this unfortunate American tradition.

VoiceforAll

Democrats won't be happy until billions of tax payers dollars are paid as reparation's so they can sit back and tell the black community, look, we got you billions of dollars, you are still required to vote for us because we "care" for you, we are the ones that have been looking out for your since the civil war, you have come so far under our wing. Democrats have for decades "taken" care of everyone, and they do that by keeping those groups down and under control, it's what drives them. CRT is wrong and it should not be taught in our schools to our children.

VoiceforAll

Our own vice president is now saying she would get better media coverage if she was a white male. Constant victim card being played, that is what a democrat does best. They take no accountability for their actions, in Harris's case, if she would actually do something instead of sitting back and complaining about her coverage and not getting respect, how about she earn that. CRT teaches people are victims and they are owed, it's the wrong message, but again, that is why democrats are pushing it so hard, they want our children believing they are victims of a racists society.

SoDakD

Voice, your knowledge of American history is not much better than your understanding of CRT.

Contrary to your misunderstanding of our history, Democrats have no standing to declare that “we are the ones that have been looking out for you since the civil war.”

In fact, until LBJ signed the civil rights act in 1964, it was the Democratic party that was primarily responsible for the Jim Crow voter suppression of African-Americans.

Thereafter - as a result of Richard Nixon‘s “southern strategy“ - most southern segregationists in the Democratic Party left for the Republican party.

If you are so wrong about the past, why would we trust what you are saying about the present?

Jon Wick

SoDakD, since you are representing yourself as an expert on CRT and teaching in this thread, I would like to put your knowledge to the test.

Your thesis is that CRT is not being taught is schools, quote; “no school board is actually teaching CRT”. Since making this statement, I am now under the impression that you are a professionally educated and trained teacher with years of classroom experience and have a significant background in curriculum development, evaluation, implementation, and outcomes assessment. Am I correct?

If not, please tell us all how you obtained your expertise on CRT (Wikipedia doesn’t count). This way we can put your thesis under sufficient academic rigor to assess your stated findings.

SoDakD

Mr. Wick, I’ve observed that at times you’ve engaged in measured discussions with others, so I will endeavor to address you in the same spirit.

However, I do register your facetious “assumption” that I’m “representing [myself] as an expert on CRT and teaching.”

Hardly. But I do agree with Mr. Hertz that “The core idea [of CRT] is that race is a social construct, and that racism is not merely the product of individual bias or prejudice, but also something embedded in legal systems and policies.”

Other folks, beginning with Mr. Tocqueville in the early 1800's, have made this same determination despite not being experts on CRT. And while I myself cannot claim anywhere near the same perspicacious agency as Mr. Tocqueville, I do from time to time manage to observe the obvious.

I asserted that “no school board is actually teaching CRT '' because in all the nasty brouhahas with white folks screaming that CRT is being taught in the schools, I’ve seen no instances where a school board was actually doing any such thing.

(I’ll assume that you would agree that teaching the American story of slavery and racism is not the same thing as teaching CRT. If we don’t agree on this point, we’ll not be having a very rewarding discussion.)

From your academic background you no doubt know how difficult it is to prove a negative. So I’ll ask you to do me the favor of taking up the easier task of proving a positive.

So, please, tell me where CRT is actually being taught to American school kids, and I’ll stand corrected.

SoDakD

Mr. Wick, I’ve observed from your past postings that you have strong feelings about CRT. Strong feelings I detect behind your facetious words. Feelings I’ve never quite understood.

So I’m wondering why you’ve now fallen silent.

SoDakD

Perhaps you actually DO oppose teaching the American story of slavery and racism.

Is it possible that for you this is the meaning of CRT?

Jon Wick

SoDakD, I appreciate your willingness to have a measured discussion, they are always more productive. I’ve been out of town which caused my delay in responding. I’ll try to address your points as concisely as possible since there is a lot to unpack when addressing CRT.

Your state: I do agree with Mr. Hertz that “The core idea [of CRT] is that race is a social construct, and that racism is not merely the product of individual bias or prejudice, but also something embedded in legal systems and policies.” This is completely deceptive statement, typical of CRT. CRT claims that America is fundamentally racist, but hypocritically, then demands us to look at every situation and every person only on the basis of race. Critical race theory is simple race grievances that have nothing to do with actually fighting racism.

You also refer to Tocqueville’s observation in the 1830’s. This antique observation is totally irrelevant to today. It’s simply a distracting talking point, nothing more.

You asserted that “no school board is actually teaching CRT '' and that “I’ve seen no instances where a school board was actually doing any such thing”. That’s because you have been fooled by the schools, so you do not know what to look for. When schools tell you that they are not teaching Critical Race Theory, this really means go away and don’t poke around in our affairs.

Academia states they don’t teach CRT because they just don’t call it CRT, therefore, they can say they do not teach CRT. A verbal slight of hand. If you want to know if a school teaches CRT, look for words and phrases such as equity, social justice, diversity and inclusion, culturally responsive teaching, DEI curriculum evaluation, educational equity, ethnic studies, equity-driven pedagogy and cultural self-awareness just to name a few. These are signs of CRT instruction.

The Revolution will be complete when the language is perfect.” George Orwell, 1984

Yet, the National Education Association (NEA), the nation’s largest teachers’ union, openly promotes the teaching of CRT in K-12 schools by the adoption of resolutions “to make public statements across all lines of media that support racial honesty in education including but not limited to critical race theory.” I am a former member of the NEA, it’s being taught SoDakD.

You state: “I’ll assume that you would agree that teaching the American story of slavery and racism is not the same thing as teaching CRT”. Technically, I agree with you on this. We should teach our history both good and bad but do so in a way that shuns CRT from the discussions. However, teaching history is also the easiest delivery system for CRT.

The claim that CRT is merely teaching history is the most dishonest of the CRT tactics and willfully ignores the deliberately inaccurate way CRT does so. It involves another sleight of hand using the word “taught.” It utilizes a technicality to try to sneak CRT past the public, to make it look benign. What academia means by this is that teachers are not providing academic CRT legal texts to children. But they are implanting the very ideas and concepts of CRT, even if in a simplified form, into the school and classroom environment. This is accomplished through assignments, lessons, curriculum, classroom décor, surveys, tests, policies, field trips and other classroom activities. Not just books. This is not by accident.

SoDakD, I am going to ask you to consider the following. It will most likely not be a popular topic to consider for many of the leftists on this board, however, give some thought to this view surrounding CRT. Is inferior social standing and inequality in access to resources always the product of a racist societal structure because it’s more difficult champion equality of opportunity than it is to justify failure by alleging systemic racism and generational victimhood to artificially mandate race-based outcomes? Or could inferior social standing and inequality in access to resources more often than not be the result of freely chosen and completely avoidable personal decisions?

SoDakD

Of course, “… inequality in access to resources [can be] be the result of freely chosen and completely avoidable personal decisions.”

No question this is often true. But even many exceptions don’t disprove a rule.

And if you define CRT as exposed by “words and phrases such as equity, social justice, diversity and inclusion, [etc…]” then CRT has little meaning except in the mind of the beholder.

And perhaps there’s no surprise here. This national argument has existed in many forms since the first iteration of our Constitution gave the south 3/5 representation for each of their slaves. This argument may never end.

At least in our lifetimes.

And this may be where we find our only meeting of the minds…

Jon Wick

SoDakD, I’m glad to see that you are beginning to get the picture. You state “then CRT has little meaning except in the mind of the beholder” this certainly demonstrates you are learning.

Maybe you should consider educating yourself a bit more on the topic, you should start with the Frankfurt School, circa 1930’s Germany. Challenge yourself to take a genuinely unbiased look at the subject. You might be surprised at what you find.

Finally, you stated “tell me where CRT is actually being taught to American school kids, and I’ll stand corrected”. I did and you’re welcome. You stand corrected.

SoDakD

Mr. Wick, the way you’ve defined CRT, it could be said to be taught almost anywhere a history class examines the concepts of American “equity, social justice, diversity and inclusion…”

You’ve given no actual examples of any school board saying “Yes, we're teaching CRT.” Am I to simply take your word that they do, but they’re all lying about it?

Likely somewhere in some liberal corner of our nation there’s a school board that would admit they’re teaching CRT. This would allow you to claim your metaphorical “I told you so” trophy if you troubled to ferret it out.

But you don’t even seem to be trying. You’ve come up empty handed. Instead you’ve just redefined CRT to fit your thesis. If I am to “stand corrected,” I missed exactly why.

Of course this is better than the outright falsehoods that have enjoyed such currency of late, but it’s still a not-so-subtle “straw man” polemic. A specious argument that misses the point.

And your “analogy” of the Frankfurt School, in 1930’s Germany doesn’t measure up to expectations either.

I was hoping for something more substantive than this.

Jon Wick

SoDakD, I'm not surprised by your response to my post.

It's very apparent that you currently lack the necessary knowledge and understanding of CRT one needs to conduct as meaningful and reasoned discussion on the topic. Therefore, I see no point in continuing.

Consider spending less time bloviating and much more time learning. Then maybe we can pick up this conversation again someday.

Until next time.....

SoDakD

I can understand that you don’t want to continue your challenged polemic.

But if you come across a school board that is actually teaching CRT, don’t fail to let me know.

A few exceptions or two often prove a general rule.

Welcome to the discussion.

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