SIOUX FALLS, SD (KELO) – A member of the South Dakota Social Science Education Standards Working Group once again speaks on the proposed standards changes. The controversy first arose when a revised draft of the standards was released by the Department of Education, which saw the suppression of Native American history and culture.

Governor Kristi Noem announced on Monday that she had ordered the implementation of the standards to be delayed for up to a year. In addition to announcing that it is asking the legislature to pass a law codifying its executive decree 2021-11, the press release also states the following:

The Department of Education has significantly altered the recommendations of the Social Studies Standards Task Force, but it’s clear to me that there needs to be more public involvement to bring greater balance and focus. focus on the true and honest history of our nation. Following comments from the public from several constituencies, it is clear that there is still work to be done to get it right.

Governor Kristi Noem

Noem also commented on his personal and political Twitter accounts.

The statement also said implementation of the standards would be delayed to allow more time for the public.

Paul Harens, a longtime public school teacher and member of the Education Standards Task Force, says the time has already passed. “The public’s contribution has already been given,” said Harens, “and I understand the majority are against adopting the standards as they are now written.”

Haren’s had previously spoken to KELOLAND News, acting as an unofficial spokesperson for the task force, discussing the dissatisfaction felt by himself and other members over what he called a “comprehensive review” of this. that the group had set up.

When asked if he thought the decision to delay implementation of the standards was a good thing for those opposed to the revised version, Harens was frank.

Jacob Newton: When you look at this timeframe – up to a year; do you see it as a victory?

Paul Harens: No.

Harens said that by delaying implementation for a period of one year, Noem is violating laws and regulations. “The law and the regulations told us that the process should follow what we were doing, which includes these hearings,” he said.

“In South Dakota, we don’t have all radical leftists.

Paul Harens

The timing of the cancellation was of interest to Harens. “I find it very interesting that she does that when the [National Review] a magazine article came out about him, ”he said, referring to an article in a right-wing publication criticizing Noem for allowing“ far left activists ”to take over education in South Dakota.

KELOLAND News contacted Governor Noem’s office to see if the National Review article had influenced his decision. This story will be updated when we receive a response.

Harens disputes this characterization.

The [National Review] goes in depth by talking mainly about the people doing the job – calling us radical leftists. In South Dakota, we do have any radical leftist. We have people who care about children, and that was our goal; was to do what was best for the children of South Dakota.

Paul Harens

Harens was careful to note in the interview that he is not a “radical leftist” as the National Review suggests, but rather a registered Republican.

Going beyond the opinions expressed in the National Review and whether they influenced Noem’s decision, Harens looked to the future to discuss what he would like to happen in the future. “If she has to push back a year and has to revise those standards again, I think the original working group should be involved,” he said.

Among the changes to the task force proposal that Harens refers to are the introduction and preface, which he says have been politically revised. “They got into politics when they redid the preface and they redid the introduction.”

Harens said the new preface was not involved in the task force and appears to be withdrawn from former President Donald Trump’s controversial “1776” project. Harens said he made an effort to get answers from the DOE on the author of the preface and introduction, but to no avail.

KELOLAND News has also contacted DOE to request the names of employees responsible for revisions to standards, but has not received a response.

Harens said he was sticking to the standards developed by the task force, as well as how they carried out the process. “We wrote standards that anyone could use,” he said.

Regarding the final decision, Harens said the task force had no power. “All we were told was to write down what we thought was best for the kids, and that’s what we did,” he said. “We were told that the only changes that would likely be made would be changes in grammar, sentence structure, or numbering.”

Harens said the changes were much more comprehensive than that and provided the document below, which he said was created by members of the task force, to illustrate this fact. Harens said anything in red was something the DOE changed.

Harens said the rhetoric surrounding the reviews, along with the conflict between the task force and the state, has led some people to feel like their jobs are in jeopardy. He said that was part of the reason he decided to speak out.

Harens is a retired educator who taught for 39 years in public schools from Kindergarten to Grade 12, as well as one year at the University of South Dakota. He has a master’s degree in public communication with a minor in counseling. Harens continued to serve as a substitute teacher as recently as this year. Counting the years he replaced, he said he had worked in education for 47 years.

You can check out the DOE Content Standards review page here, where the link for public input can be found.

You can view the full revised draft of the proposed content standards published by the DOE here, and the original draft of the working group here.