South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem has drafted legislation that would prohibit South Dakota schools and universities from teaching critical race theory (CRT), according to a news release from her office.
The bill draft comes months after the governor signed an executive order that banned CRT from schools and prohibited South Dakota Department of Education officials from applying for grants from the federal government related to history and civics until after the 2022 legislative session.
Noem said in the July 29 order she anticipated the Legislature would ban curriculum that “requires or encourages students to take positions against one another on the basis of race, sex or the historical activity of members of a student’s race or sex” and would “prevent schools from politicizing education by prohibiting any curriculum that requires students to protest or lobby during or after school.”
The proposed legislation also prevents higher education institutions funded by the Board of Regents or the Board of Higher Education from spending money to teach CRT.
The South Dakota Board of Regents released a statement in August saying students would be treated as individuals and not as a member of a group.
“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,” Regent Tony Venhuizen said. “That’s why our board today is taking a step back and stating the American values that will continue to guide the university system."
Merriam Webster’s dictionary defines CRT as “a group of concepts (such as the idea that race is a sociological rather than biological designation, and that racism pervades society and is fostered and perpetuated by the legal system) used for examining the relationship between race and the laws and legal institutions of a country and especially the United States.”
“Our schools should teach our children our nation’s true and honest history,” Noem said. “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.”
Other governors have announced similar legislation. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis announced a bill last week that would ban teaching CRT in schools. DeSantis’ bill also would give parents the right to sue anyone violating the ban and allow workers to sue companies that conduct CRT training.