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Letters to the Tribune

By Staff | Jan 29, 2016

Baltrusch Running for N.D. Senate

Glen Baltrusch, of Harvey, has announced he is seeking election to the North Dakota State Senate to represent District 14, not the special interests in Bismarck.

Glen has chosen to run because, “The increases in taxes and reckless spending that has occurred over the past decade; along with the erosion of fundamental rights is not in the best interest of the citizens of District 14 or the State as a whole.

“The citizens of District 14 are currently taxed more than is necessary to properly fund state and local government. Unfortunately, our current legislators are spending like it belongs to someone else – and it does! It belongs to those of us work hard to support our families. It’s time your elected representatives stop the reckless and excessive spending that is currently going on. I’ll be YOUR representative and will challenge every irresponsible expenditure. This is a promise.

“I will challenge and vote against every bill that increases government control over our lives and imposes new rules and regulations that are not clearly necessary. It’s time we get rid of unnecessary rules and regulations.

“It’s time to have a Senator that represents District 14 and those who pay our taxes, not those that spend our tax dollars.

“The evidence is clear our current Legislators have enacted budgets based on revenue projections that far exceed responsible taxation.

“I look forward to representing the citizens of District 14 as their Senator in the North Dakota Legislative Assembly.”

Baesler Seeking Re-Election

Superintendent Kirsten Baesler said Tuesday she will seek a second four-year term as North Dakota’s superintendent of public instruction.

Baesler said she will request a letter of support from delegates to the North Dakota Republican state convention, which is being held April 1-3 at Scheels Arena in Fargo.

She is running for re-election to continue progress on a number of education initiatives, Baesler said. During the 2015 Legislature, she won backing for her “Leveraging the Senior Year” initiative, which strengthens college preparation for high school seniors.

“Leveraging the Senior Year” is aimed at reducing the number of North Dakota students who require remedial studies while in college, and to broaden availability for advanced high school coursework for students who are excelling. These efforts will save students and their parents time and tuition expense.

Baesler said she is especially excited by the challenges offered by the new federal education law, which Congress approved in December. It allows state and local officials more control over education than they have had in 25 years, Baesler said. The new law prohibits the federal Secretary of Education from mandating academic standards and curriculum.

The previous law used testing and high school graduation rates as measurements of a school’s success. The new law, Baesler said, allows for more comprehensive and realistic ways of measuring school performance.

Baesler said she will assemble a group of education stakeholders, including parents and representatives of business and industry, to write a North Dakota school performance accountability plan “that will be based on what we value, and what we know makes a quality school.”

During the 2015 Legislature, Baesler was a leader in a successful effort to obtain $3 million in state support for local early childhood education programs. It was the first time that state funds have been earmarked for prekindergarten.

She plans to continue North Dakota’s first Student Cabinet, which the superintendent founded in the spring of 2015. It is a group of 20 students who meet regularly to provide Baesler with a student’s view of how North Dakota education policy is working. The Cabinet’s members range in age from fifth grade to a college freshman.

Baesler is also heading a task force, which includes school administrators and legislators, which is drafting suggestions for streamlining North Dakota’s education data reporting system. Its work will help to cut expenses and reduce bureaucracy in school districts.

“We have accomplished much at the Department of Public Instruction in the last three years, but there is much more to do,” Baesler said.

“We have a priceless opportunity to make sure our schools are places of inspiration and motivation for our students as they prepare for life, college and careers,” Baesler continued. “Now is the time we ensure that every school in North Dakota is a place that parents want to send their children, because students will be engaged in rich and relevant curriculum, and a place where educators want to teach, because there is joy and reward in teaching and learning.”

Baesler, of Mandan, was first elected as state superintendent in 2012, in her first run for statewide office. Before she made the race, Baesler served for 23 years in Bismarck’s public schools as a vice principal, library media specialist, classroom teacher and instructional assistant, and worked briefly for the North Dakota School Boards Association.

She also served on the Mandan school board for nine years, including seven years as the board’s president.

Baesler is a native of Flasher, a rural community in southwestern North Dakota. She has three adult sons.

The superintendent is in charge of the Department of Public Instruction, which has 99 employees and a two-year budget of $2.33 billion. Most of the agency’s budget is distributed as state aid to local school districts.

The department also oversees the State Library, on the Capitol grounds in Bismarck; the School for the Deaf, in Devils Lake; and the School for the Blind/North Dakota Vision Services, in Grand Forks.

Chiang Seeking Election for Superintendent of Public Instruction

I am running for the Department of Public Instruction State Superintendent to fix education.

The reasons I’m running are many fold. A number of people have ask me to run because they agree with my assessment of not only what is wrong with our state educational system but they also agree with my ideas on how to fix it.

I’m embarrassed as a ND teacher at the state pass rate. Along with that I’m embarrassed when I talk to parents who know there is something terribly wrong with their child’s education and I am not permitted to do anything about it. I don’t mean just test scores but the child’s attitude toward school since the “new and improved” changes have been forced onto teachers, students and parents alike.

As a teacher I can’t do anything about it. The fix must be lead from the position of Superintendent. It must be fixed by someone who understands there is a problem and how to fix it. Obviously to date, DPI has not and cannot fix it with fancy educational jargon, like College and Career Ready, or more Rigor or the latest program du jour.

I am not running against anything. I’m running FOR the future of North Dakota. I am running FOR the children of North Dakota.

– Joseph Chiang

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