Imagine teaching your child that our country was founded on racism, or that hard work is not a virtue, or that a young boy or girl should be ashamed of themselves because of their skin color. As a mom and as a grandma, I can’t even begin to imagine poisoning my child with those lies. But believe it or not, lessons like those are being taught to children in America’s K-12 schools and universities. As governor, I want to keep that from happening in South Dakota.
You might have heard about it on TV or read about it on the internet: Critical Race Theory, a neo-Marxist philosophy that says the United States is racist to the core, that equal opportunity is a myth, and that the American Dream is a lie. There are some folks who deny that it’s being taught to kids. They claim it’s a concept that’s just studied in universities or in law schools. Wrong. The truth is, the proponents of Critical Race Theory are hiding their anti-American philosophy in plain sight: in colorful children’s books, revisionist textbooks, and radical lesson plans designed to indoctrinate children into their way of thinking.
Critical Race Theory is embedded in books like “Antiracist Baby,” which teaches children at the earliest of ages not to be colorblind, and even tells them to “confess” to being racist. It’s in the 1619 Project—a series of New York Times articles that invent lies about our country’s history, even teaching that the American Revolution was fought to preserve slavery. Today, those articles are forming the basis of a new curriculum that is being used in 4,500 schools nationwide. And it’s in the curriculum that tells teachers to “challenge the ways that math is used to uphold capitalist, imperialist, racist views.”
If it’s not enough that some schools are teaching kids ideas that are entirely against everything that America stands for, they’re also turning children into political pawns. Through “Action Civics,” students are being forced to take part in political protests. Instead of teaching children our nation’s history, the founding principles, or even the structure of our government, Action Civics unleashes them on the streets as activists, turning them into foot soldiers for partisan fights they may not even understand.
And under President Biden, the U.S. Department of Education is rubber-stamping these materials and using federal dollars to entice school districts into teaching this harmful ideology. In July 2021, I signed an executive order preventing South Dakota schools from being able to apply for federal grants in history or civics until the legislature could provide a solution to this indoctrination from the federal government.
We will not stand for this in South Dakota. Racial division and political activism will have no place in our classrooms. That’s why I have introduced two bills to put a stop to it before it spreads to our state. The first bill ensures that our public schools are not indoctrinating kids and teachers with Critical Race Theory, and that students won’t be compelled to engage in political activism. The second bill extends protections against Critical Race Theory to college students and employees, too, while also preserving academic freedom.
It’s also important to note what these bills will not do. They do not prevent difficult conversations about racism, or lessons about moments in the past when we have failed to live up to our American ideals. Bad books and ideas should be balanced, not banned, and students should have access to a wide range of perspectives. But overtly divisive lessons that teach children to hate America should not be forced on a captive audience of young students.
No child should be taught that someone is better or less than someone else because of their skin color. No child should be forced to participate in riots, protests, or lobbying to push a political agenda. And no child should be taught that America is racist, or that the American Dream is not for them. It’s time to put Critical Race Theory and Action Civics in the ash heap of history where they belong.