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FIRST ON FOX – South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem on Wednesday filed an expansive legislative package targeting critical race theory (CRT) in classrooms.
Critics of CRT, which is formally understood as an academic and legal analysis of race recognizing racism as a systemic problem affecting certain areas of society, argue that the movement is divisive in classrooms and separates children into groups of oppressors versus oppressed, privileged and underprivileged.
Noem’s bills would ban CRT in public K-12 schools, as well as the application of CRT in higher education training and orientation for students and staff.
The legislative package ensures that “critical race theory will not be taught in [South Dakota] schools, that no one will be taught that someone is better or less than someone else based on their sex or their race, and also that kids can’t be compelled to participate in riots or protests or lobbying on a specific agenda,” the governor told Fox News Digital in an interview.
Noem believes South Dakota parents are “relieved” that the state still has “common sense.”
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“[In] the rest of the country, we see people getting engaged that never have before,” Noem said. “That means that we end up getting policies in place that protect our kids and make sure that they learn a true and honest history about this country and who they are as an individual.”
Defenders argue that CRT-type training helps enhance dominant groups’ understanding and empathy of what the oppressed experience on a regular basis. These types of trainings have also been promoted as ways to dismantle or weaken alleged structures imposing burdens through bias and discrimination.
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Noem says, however, that CRT is “not what America’s about” and “not our history.”
“This country was created so people would have freedom and an opportunity to be treated the same as everybody else,” she said. “And certainly we have flaws in our background, but we learn from them and we strive to do better in the future. And that’s really what we want our kids to learn and take out of their education systems.”
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich praised Noem as “a real national leader in the fight against classroom indoctrination.”
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“If she is successful in shepherding this legislation into law, it would be a political masterstroke for her – and more importantly a huge win for students in South Dakota who deserve to learn free from toxic left-wing political activism,” he said in a Wednesday statement.
The organization 1776 Action, whose mission is to “defeat anti-American indoctrination” in U.S. schools and is named after former President Trump’s disbanded 1776 Commission, is backing the effort to ban CTR through TV advertisements, as well as a text and digital campaign.
“This legislation is a big deal. We are going to do everything we can to see that it becomes law,” Adam Waldeck, president of 1776 Action, said in a statement. “People may think, ‘How can something like CRT be a problem in South Dakota?’ But the truth is, the Left doesn’t look at schools anywhere in America and think, ‘Let’s leave those alone.’ Gov. Noem clearly understands the stakes and is going on offense, which is exactly the right move.”
Noem in 2021 signed a pledge created by 1776 Action for candidates or current officeholders that aims to uphold the values of the Constitution and Founding Fathers in U.S. schools and prevent the “politicizing” of education.
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Parents across the country have been speaking out against CRT in private and public schools or school districts and working to garner support from others who take issue with the movement.
Last year, Texas passed a law banning the promotion of CRT and action civics in public K-12 schools. Newly elected Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin on Jan. 15 signed an executive order ending CRT in the state’s public schools. Much of Youngkin’s campaign leading up to Virginia’s 2021 gubernatorial election focused on complaints from parents about divisive educational material.
Fox News’ Sam Dorman contributed to this report.