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Back-to-School for students, teachers, and parents

It’s back-to-school season; a busy time filled with excitement for students and teachers, as well as parents eager to snap those “first day of school” photos. The outpouring of positivity for students at every grade level has always been a great way to kickstart the school year.


With that positivity also comes a heightened sense of responsibility. Now, more than ever, parents have a greater understanding of how and what their children are learning. From school safety to the important benchmarks for curriculum, every aspect of how we educate the next generation is under new scrutiny. 


As a mother, I know the importance of engaging children and their teachers throughout the school year. Educators train students on the tools to excel in the future, including the skills required for math, reading, writing, sciences, and the arts.


These tools are bolstered when parents or guardians lay a strong foundation of core values taught within a family unit. Where these values play a crucial role is in the learning, comprehension, and study of civics and history. Until recently, civics and history classes across the United States focused on the study of major events, including the leaders who shaped our country. That remains the focus in South Dakota. I am fighting to ensure the study of historical facts and figures remains free of ideological influence. We also are improving standards that add context to enhance a student’s understanding of historical events. 


As governor, I have become increasingly concerned about a growing movement throughout the country to reject patriotic education and downplay the positive revolution in human affairs set in motion by our Founders. This is why I support resisting Critical Race Theory and action civics from our schools. That’s also why I recently signed an executive order to block federal grants for Critical Race Theory and action civics in our state.


Fortunately, it does not appear that this revisionist history is being taught in South Dakota, and I intend to work with lawmakers in the next legislative session to keep it that way. This week, the South Dakota Board of Regents issued guidance consistent with my position, calling for a series of actions to ensure our public universities remain places for learning, study, and exploration, and not platforms to advance ideological or political agendas.

History is an important piece of the educational puzzle -- our triumphs and failures have shaped this nation and allowed America to become a beacon of freedom and democracy around the world. 


As we prepare for the start of school, I encourage parents to talk with their children daily about what they are learning. Engage with teachers about the progress you are seeing at home and ways to improve your child’s learning capabilities. And approach every engagement with positivity so the focus remains on strengthening our children’s self-worth, in part, through academic achievement.


When parents, teachers, and our children work together, we ensure a brighter future for all of South Dakota.