AHA Sends Letter to South Dakota Board of Education Opposing Social Studies Standards Revision Process (September 2022)

The AHA has sent a letter to the South Dakota Board of Education Standards “register[ing] strong concern regarding the social standards revisions process undertaken by the Board of Education in 2022.” The proposed standards, as well as the process by which they were developed, fail to meet the AHA’s Criteria for Standards in History/Social Studies/Social Sciences. “By design, the proposed standards omit any and all forms of historical inquiry in favor of rote memorization. There are no references to the practice of historical interpretation, understanding historical context, or critical thinking,” the AHA wrote. “The AHA’s criteria emphasize that good history education helps students learn to explore issues from various angles; the proposed standards fall far short of incorporating multiple historical perspectives.”

This letter followed letters sent to the South Dakota legislature in February 2022 opposing proposed legislation that would have restricted history education. The legislation did not pass, but similar restrictions against “divisive concepts” and “critical race theory” were put in place through an executive order from Governor Kristi Noem.