Gov. Kristi Noem is replacing the chair of a state board that will decide South Dakota’s public school social studies standards later this spring.
Board of Education Standards Chairwoman Becky Guffin will not be reappointed to the governor-appointed body that’s been working for nearly three years to update Department of Education curriculum, the Governor’s Office announced Tuesday. The Aberdeen Public School superintendent will be replaced by Sioux Falls businessman Steve Perkins.
Guffin, whose term expired Dec. 31, 2022, faced calls to resign from the board last year after reports surfaced that an assistant in her Aberdeen office was working to thwart adoption of the standards being proposed by a consultant who assisted the panel.
Rep. Sue Peterson, R-Sioux Falls, in September called Guffin’s committee assignment a “conflict of interest.”
Guffin unaware she wasn’t reappointed to education board
When contacted Tuesday evening, Guffin was unaware she was not being reappointed.
She did not provide a response when asked if she desired to remain on the board.
The Governor’s Office declined to say if Guffin’s position on the proposed standards led to her replacement.
In a statement announcing Perkins’ appointment released earlier in the day, Noem said: “He will always put the future of our next generation first in his approach to the Board of Education Standards, and that is why he is a great pick for this role.”
The board next meets Friday in Rapid City and will take input on the proposed standards, a process that’s been mired with accusations from both the political left and right accusing each other of inserting politics into what should be apolitical revisions.
In early 2022, Noem tossed the initial recommendations that came from the curriculum committee after conservatives months before contended the process had been highjacked by “leftist bureaucrats” in the Department of Education.
That decision nullified work by a Wisconsin consultant who was paid $220,000 to assist the state in developing the standards. And a new consultant – paid another $200,000 – was brought in to start the process over with a new workgroup of South Dakotans. That consultant’s connections to Hillsdale College, a private college in Michigan that does not accept federal money, drew criticism from progressives who accused the Board of Education Standards and the DOE of bias affirmation.
Perkins’ education experience includes teaching real estate and continuing education at Minnesota West Community and Technical College and Southwest Minnesota State University. He also has taught community education at Luvern Public Schools, according to the Governor’s Office.
Perkins is the principal partner in Perkins Consulting Services in Sioux Falls, and once served as mayor of Pipestone, Minn.
The Board of Education Standards will consider the proposed social studies standards through spring and is anticipated to take a final vote in April.