Noem targets graduation rates, drag shows in challenge to Board of Regents



(The Center Square) – South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem wants the Board of Regents to bring its schools’ graduation rate up from 47% to the national rate of 63% and find ways to cut costs to ensure college is affordable.

But her letter released Thursday also asked for a ban on drag shows on any BOR campus and the removal of pronoun use from all student materials. The BOR is requested to remove all policies and procedures that “prohibit students from exercising their right to free speech.”

The governor created a “whistleblower” hotline for anyone concerned about what is happening at the state-funded universities.

Higher education is in a “state of crisis,” she said.

“For the last several decades, many states have allowed liberal ideologies to poison their universities and colleges,” Noem said. “Once a hotbed of ideological diversity, debate, and the pursuit of truth and discovery, many institutions have become one-sided, close-minded, and focused on feelings rather than facts.”

The governor also asked the BOR to require courses in American government and history as a part of the general education graduation requirements. She also called for a review of funding sources to “ensure there is no money coming into our education system from China.”

The BOR received the letter at the same time it was released to the public, Shuree Mortenson, BOR’s director of communications, told The Center Square in an email. The board is currently reviewing it.

“Governor Noem’s letter contained several goals that the Board of Regents has worked on for several years,” Mortenson said. “This letter, along with our internal Strategic Plan and Senate Bill 55 Legislative Task Force, presents solutions to support the growth of South Dakota’s workforce through our public universities. As the public university system of South Dakota, our main goal is to prepare the next generation of leaders with the necessary skills to grow our state’s economy. We are fully committed to this mission.”

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