South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem Signs Legislation Restricting Teaching of Critical Race Theory in K-12 Schools
South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem Signs Legislation Restricting Teaching of Critical Race Theory in K-12 Schools

By Katabella Roberts

South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem signed an executive order on April 5 that will restrict the teaching of block critical race theory (CRT) in K-12 education in the state.

The legislation states that the Department of Education (DOE) shall not “compel” employees, students, or teachers to “personally affirm, adopt, or adhere to inherently divisive concepts.”

The order directs the education secretary to review all policies within DOE to “identify if any promote inherently divisive concepts”. DOE will also review materials and training to identify if any “promote or endorse inherently divisive concepts” and end them if they do.

Such policies, materials, or training should be ended by no later than Oct. 1, according to the legislation.

Noem’s order describes “inherently divisive concepts” as ideas that are in violation of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and indicate that one race, color, religion, sex, ethnicity, or national origin is inherently superior, that individuals are inherently responsible for actions committed in the past by those of the same race, or that individuals should be discriminated against on the basis of any of those factors.

“Political indoctrination has no place in our classrooms,” said Noem. “Our children will not be taught that they are racists or that they are victims, and they will not be compelled to feel responsible for the mistakes of their ancestors. We will guarantee that our students learn America’s true and honest history—that includes both our triumphs and our mistakes.”

The legislation means that South Dakota now joins a handful of other states that have enacted similar laws to combat CRT, including Arkansas, Idaho, Iowa, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, and South Carolina.

CRT redefines human history as a struggle between the “oppressors”— normally considered to be white people—and the “oppressed”— individuals from other identity groups.

The theory is similar to Marxism’s reduction of history to a struggle between the “bourgeois” and the “proletariat” but has slowly expanded in recent decades through academia, government structures, school systems, and the corporate world.

Supporters of CRT generally believe that racial oppression exists within the United States.

Noem previously signed a bill to block mandatory CRT training and orientations at colleges in South Dakota. Prior to that, the Republican governor blocked federal civics and history grants due to concerns over their ties to CRT.

Since taking office, Noem has also announced two bills that would ban almost all abortions in the state,  and signed legislation that bars athletes from competing on single-sex sports teams if they are of the other sex.

Most recently, the governor took aim at the power of big tech companies such as Facebook and their influence in elections when she signed legislation into law that bans government entities from accepting outside funding to run elections.

Noem cited Mark Zuckerberg and his wife donating some $350 million ahead of the 2020 election to various organizations, which funneled the money to state and local officials to run the election in certain ways, as reasons for the bill.

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