BISMARCK, N.D., Oct 29, 2020 – State School Superintendent Kirsten Baesler is inviting North Dakota students to apply for the Superintendent’s Student Cabinet, a group of young people who offer Baesler ideas and advice about the state’s K-12 education system.
Students from public and private schools in grades three through 12 are encouraged to seek a Cabinet position. The application form is posted on the Department of Public Instruction’s website. Applications are due by 5 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 23. Cabinet members are appointed to serve for 18 months.
The Cabinet normally meets every three months at the state Capitol. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, meetings have been virtual, and more frequent. The Cabinet includes students from different grades, backgrounds, cultures, school sizes, and regions within North Dakota.
“The student voice is important in North Dakota. No one knows better than our students what is working in our schools, and where improvements can be made,” Baesler said. “This is a chance for young people to join a group that gives opinions, advice, and suggestions to our state’s policymakers, including the state superintendent and the North Dakota Legislature.
“Members of the Superintendent’s Student Cabinet have suggested policy initiatives that the Legislature has adopted, and its members have been an invaluable source of information about how their schools are managing the COVID-19 pandemic,” Baesler said.
Cabinet member Sheyenne Waletzko, who is a junior at Lisbon High School, said her service has given her the opportunity to talk about education issues with peers, and listen to the perspectives of students from other parts of North Dakota.
“It was really interesting to be able to discuss things that you’ve always wanted to change in your school, and to actually be making a difference,” Waletzko said. “Instead of just talking about it, you know that what you’re saying is going to be heard by people who can use it to make a difference in schools everywhere.
“The people who are on the Cabinet run it. We all get to give our ideas. Every single meeting, you always have a say in what’s going on,” she said. “It was like a big team. You never felt uncomfortable. It was a really great way to express your ideas.”
Ayden Frohlich, a sophomore at Bismarck’s Legacy High School, said Cabinet members discussed ways to de-emphasize standardized tests, such as the ACT, as a measurement of student achievement.
“The testing isn’t always the definition of being smart. Some people may not be good test-takers, but they might be really smart otherwise,” Frohlich said. “We need to find better ways to measure that.”
Frohlich described the Cabinet as a way of amplifying the student voice in education.
“It’s a place where your voice can be heard in a wider area,” he said. “If I had told my principal what needs to be done, it might happen here, but it might not happen in all the other schools around the state. It’s good to have a wider broadcasting area.”
Baesler founded the Student Cabinet in April 2015. Members are appointed to serve for 18 months. Applications are ranked by an evaluation team outside of the superintendent’s office. The present Cabinet has 19 members. The new Superintendent’s Student Cabinet will be the fourth in the state’s history.
The Student Cabinet has successfully advocated for the North Dakota Legislature’s approval of bills to protect students against bullying and increase access to advanced school coursework and early childhood education.
“The Superintendent’s Student Cabinet is a key player in our educational process,” Baesler said. “We generate ideas, discuss issues, and gain knowledge from each other. I have this message for our students – applying for the Superintendent’s Student Cabinet is well worth your time.”
Additional information about the Superintendent’s Student Cabinet is available on the Department of Public Instruction’s website.