Gov. Noem Signs Executive Order Blocking Federal Critical Race Theory Grants

Gov. Kristi Noem signed an executive order Thursday that bars officials in the South Dakota Department of Education from applying for any federal grants in history or civics related to critical race theory (CRT) until after the 2022 South Dakota legislative session.

A press release from Noem’s office says that Executive Order 2021-11 “directs the South Dakota Department of Education to refrain from applying for any federal grants tied to critical race theory.” The issue was discussed in a debate for Sioux Falls school board candidates in May.

“Critical race theory has no place in South Dakota schools. These ideas are un-American. We are ‘one nation, under God, indivisible,’ yet critical race theory seeks to divide us based on inaccurate revisions to our nation’s history,” Governor Kristi Noem said in a recent press release. “Our students should learn America’s true history by studying both our triumphs and our mistakes. Only then will students learn that America remains the shining example of exceptionalism throughout the history of the world.”

The press release also mentions that the US Department of Education removed all references to the 1619 Project and Ibram Kendi from their American History and Civics-National Activities Grants, but that they have still kept many allusions to the divisive nature of the revisionist historical theory.

“The revised proposals from the US Department of Education still advocate critical race theory in all but name,” continued Governor Noem. “We are the Mount Rushmore State, home to our nation’s greatest monument to our history. And we take the study of American history seriously. Our classrooms are meant for education, not indoctrination, and that is how we will continue to operate in South Dakota.”

Noem’s executive order emphatically states that all state Department of Education officials are barred from applying for any federal grants in history or civics, and notably promises further action on the matter during the 2022 legislative session, with the order writing that anticipates enacting legislation during the 2022 session that will “prohibit any curriculum that requires or encourages students to take positions against one another on the basis of race, sex, or the historical activity of members of a student’s race or sex” and “prevent schools from politicizing education by prohibiting any curriculum that requires students to protest or lobby during or after school.”

The order comes as Republican Governors around the country slowly take steps to address extremist indoctrination related to critical race theory around the country, including Arizona Governor Doug Ducey recently banning the teaching CRT in public institutions.