Social studies standards opponents suggest teachers could leave the profession

South Dakota public education organizations are suggesting that changes to the social studies standards in the state could result in teachers leaving the profession all together.
South Dakota education advocacy groups are warning that the newly adopted social studies standards might push more teachers out of the profession.
Published: Apr. 19, 2023 at 6:12 PM CDT
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PIERRE, S.D. - After the South Dakota Board of Education Standards adopted new Social Studies standards Monday, school districts and teachers across the state will now be forced to grapple with them.

But education advocacy groups like the South Dakota Education Association (SDEA) say that the adoption itself may push teachers out of the profession all together, and make potential teachers reconsider joining.

“They feel disrespected, they don’t feel heard,” said Loren Paul, SDEA President. “I think we will see some educators who are close to retirement, or looking at other fields to go into, we are going to see them leave pretty quickly here.”

Official opponent testimony against the standards outweighed proponents by roughly 10 to 1. But Secretary of Education Joe Graves says he doesn’t feel it was that clear cut against the standards.

“I have heard from a lot of educators who are definitely in favor of the standards,” Graves said during a phone interview with Dakota News Now/KOTA Territory. “Because of the controversy, and because for the most part educators don’t like to be involved in controversy, they have just stayed silent.”

Graves says that educators were a valuable part of the input process, whether they were for or against the standards. And while adopting the new standards will certainly prove a challenge, Graves wants to make it as streamlined as possible. Specifically, he plans to host paid “instructional summits” for teachers this coming summer in Sioux Falls, where they can review the curriculum together.

“We are going to have a lot of speakers, a lot of educators talking about to teach these,” Graves explained. “Reenactors, and a lot of fun events.”

It will all be part of a broader effort to keep teachers across South Dakota on board, as implementation looms in 2025.

“Every district across the state is looking for some type of an educator, in some form or another, and this is not going to help that,” said Paul.