BISMARCK— Mandan School Board President Kirsten Baesler promises to bring her passion for education and her emphasis on putting children first if she is elected the next superintendent of public instruction.
Baesler won Republican support for the nonpartisan office during the party’s convention Sunday. She defeated Rep. David Monson, R-Osnabrock, on an 863-725 vote. Monson moved for unanimous support of Baesler.
Baesler, who grew up in Flasher, said too many students are leaving high school unprepared to succeed at the next level. She also said educators need to be empowered so North Dakotans receive a better return on their taxpayer dollars. She emphasized the need to coordinate K-12 and higher education curriculum to reduce the number of students needing remedial classes during their first year in college.
Business leaders also must be part of that discussion so curriculum can match the needs of the workforce, she said.
“It’s time we make North Dakota’s education outcomes No. 1 in our nation again,” she said.
Baesler said she’s an advocate for local control and providing flexibility and guidance to help schools meet the needs of their students.
“Your endorsement will strengthen my efforts to ensure North Dakota students graduate with the knowledge and skills they need to be successful in life,” she said.
Baesler is in her sixth term as president of Mandan’s school board and is an assistant principal and media specialist in Bismarck. She also serves on the North Dakota School Boards Association board.
She has 21 years of experience in public education and said roles on assorted education boards have kept her informed of federal and state regulations.
During his speech, Monson said he believes schools need to strengthen science, technology, engineering and math education, as well as career and technical education.
“These are the fields where the jobs are,” he said. “Not just the jobs of today, but the jobs of tomorrow.”
The United States is falling behind in these areas, which promote creativity, hands-on learning, critical thinking and problem solving beneficial to every career, Monson said.
Monson also discussed the need to provide mentoring for new teachers and lifelong training for educators.
The superintendent of public instruction is responsible for distributing $1.7 billion to the state’s schools and education programs each biennium, Monson said. The department has the second-largest budget in the state behind human services, he said.
Baesler will advance to the June 12 primary, where voters will narrow the field of three candidates to two.
Max Laird of Bismarck received support for the nonpartisan office from the Democratic-NPL Party during the party’s state convention earlier this month. Former Bismarck state senator Tracy Potter didn’t seek party support and plans to go straight to the primary.
Superintendent Wayne Sanstead is not running for re-election.
The annual salary of the state superintendent is $102,868.