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Kirsten Baesler seeks third term as North Dakota State Superintendent

Kirsten Baesler, North Dakota superintendent of public instruction. Michael Vosburg / Forum News Service

GRAND FORKS -- Kirsten Baesler, North Dakota’s Superintendent of Public Instruction, is running for reelection.

Baesler, who was first elected to the position in 2012, is seeking her third four-year term.

“I really believe that the work that we do at the department is so very important to our young people and their families,” Baesler said. “I enjoy the work that I do. I think it's very important, and I want to continue to do this work. ”

Baesler was first elected as state school superintendent in November 2012 and reelected to her second term in 2016 with 75% of the vote.

Baesler and her 88-person team oversee the education of more than 110,000 students across the state.

If she were to be reelected, Baesler says her three top priorities would be:

  • Working with the Legislature to bring at least one credentialed person to teach computer science, coding or cyber security to every school building in the state

  • Continuing to partner with the private sector and industry leaders who support job training, internships and school-to-work programs, in order to show “students the many, many job opportunities” that are available in North Dakota

  • Working with civic leaders to “increase the expectations of the very important element of citizenship, patriotism and civic responsibility.” Baesler noted that, in her second term in office, a law was passed requiring all high school students to pass the citizenship test for graduation. Baesler said she wants to do more to make sure “it’s embedded into all of our elements, kindergarten through 12th grade"

Before taking office in January 2013, Baesler had a 24-year career in the Bismarck public school system where she held various positions including vice principal. She also served nine years on the Mandan School Board, serving as its president for seven of those years.

Baesler is taking on Charles Tuttle for the position. Tuttle announced his intention to run for the office last month. In a Facebook post, Tuttle said he is running for the office “for one reason only, to give support to children and parents and restore local control to school boards.”

“I will only represent the people of North Dakota, not the school unions and their special interests,” he said.

Reached Thursday, Tuttle said he had concerns about the students' proficiency scores and the use of Common Core in the state.

"I want to give local control back to the school boards," he said. "I want to start getting back to basic arithmetic, reading, writing, STEM, critical thinking."

He also wants to stop what he describes as the unconstitutional use of property taxes to fund schools.

Tuttle ran as an independent candidate for the state’s U.S. seat in 2018, eventually losing to Republican and Dickinson-native Rep. Kelly Armstrong.

Sydney Mook

Sydney Mook has been covering higher education at the Grand Forks Herald since May 2018. She previously served as the multimedia editor and cops, courts and health reporter at the Dickinson Press from January 2016 to May 2018.  She graduated from the University of South Dakota with a bachelor's degree in journalism and political science in three and half years in December 2015. While at the USD, she worked for the campus newspaper, The Volante, as well as the television news show, Coyote News. She also interned at South Dakota Public Broadcasting and spent the summer before her senior year interning in Fort Knox for the ROTC Cadet Summer Training program. In her spare time, Sydney enjoys cheering on the New York Yankees and the Kentucky Wildcats, as well as playing golf. If you've got an idea for a video be sure to give her a call!

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