South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem (R) announced this week that she signed a pledge seeking to restore “patriotic education” while also attacking critical race theory at a time Republicans across the country have pushed legislation to ban teachings of the concept in schools.
Noem, who has been seen as a potential 2024 presidential contender, claimed in a series of tweets on Monday that she recently became the first candidate in the country to sign a vow dubbed “The 1776 Pledge to Save Our Schools.”
The pledge promises to take steps to restore “honest, patriotic education” that cultivates “a profound love” for the country in children and bar “any curriculum that pits students against one another on the basis of race or sex,” among other vows.
“Our young people should be taught to view one another not according to race or gender, but as individuals made in the image of God,” the pledge states.
The move by Noem comes as Republican legislators across the nation have either filed or advanced legislation that seeks to block teachings of critical race theory, which maintains that racism is inherently ingrained within the country’s institutions, and other so-called “divisive concepts” in schools.
Some of the bills have featured similar language from the same “divisive concepts” the Trump administration prohibited in its controversial executive order that took aim at certain diversity training for government workers.
Trump issued the order, which was met with immediate blowback and legal challenges from civil rights groups, as he doubled down on a message of law and order during his reelection campaign, following months of protests against racial injustice and brutality sparked by the police killing of George Floyd.
The order was criticized by federal workers and others who said it amounted to executive overreach, and it was swiftly rescinded once President Biden assumed the office.
In an opinion piece published by Fox News on Monday, Noem, along with former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson, attacked critical theory as a “radical concept” and claimed the notion pitted students “against one another on the basis of race and gender under the guise of achieving ‘equity.’”
They also called defeating so-called “anti-American indoctrination” the “biggest cultural challenge of our lifetime” and heaped praise on the intent behind the controversial 1776 Commission that Trump ordered in his last months in office in response to The New York Times’s 1619 Project.
Noem and Carson claimed the commission, which Biden also rescinded shortly after taking office, “offered real promise, as it sought a return to a truthful, patriotic education worthy of an exceptional nation.”
In Trump’s last month in office, the White House also released what it called the 1776 Report, a 45-page report created by the commission that went after critical race theory. It was met with backlash from historians and civil rights groups upon its release on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
The report came months after Trump had also threatened to withhold funding from schools in states like California if they incorporated the The New York Times’s 1619 Project in their teachings.
Similarly, legislation being pushed by Republican state lawmakers in various states also lay out provisions threatening funding and budget cuts for schools that include the project in their history curriculum or the teachings of ideas deemed “divisive,” including the notion that the country is “fundamentally racist or sexist.”
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