Baesler invites ND parents to participate In ‘Family Engagement Cabinet’

State School Superintendent Kirsten Baesler on Wednesday invited North Dakota parents and family members of students to consider joining a “family engagement cabinet” that she is forming to share ideas about improving education.
“After 29 years in public education, I believe more strongly than ever before that if we are truly going to improve education, we must include families more authentically and more deeply,” Baesler said.
At a state Capitol news conference Wednesday, Baesler asked North Dakota parents, guardians and family members of students to consider applying to become members of the new Family Engagement Cabinet. The application deadline is 8 p.m. Thursday, April 25.
Baesler was joined at the news conference by Dr. Shawn Oban, who is principal of Bismarck’s Jeannette Myhre Elementary School and president of the North Dakota Association of Elementary School Principals, and Bismarck parent Beth Schatz Kaylor, who has been active in the “neighborhood school” movement in Bismarck.
“This Family Engagement Cabinet is an opportunity for parents, relatives, guardians, and other family members of students to offer their ideas about ways to help them become more involved in the education of those that they love,” Baesler said. “Their opinions and advice will be incredibly valuable as we pursue our shared goal of identifying ways to improve education in North Dakota for our students.”
Schatz Kaylor said she was “heartened” by Baesler’s initiative, and said statewide participation was important. “Civic engagement, I believe, is really a bedrock of our democracy. There is perhaps no topic more important to me personally than the well-being and education of our children,” Schatz Kaylor said.
“The needs of a child in Westhope is different from West Fargo, and the needs of a child in Bowman is different from Bismarck,” Schatz Kaylor said. “I really think to have (parents) all here, and engaged in a conversation, is going to be really powerful, and ensure successful outcomes for every child.”
Oban said teachers, school administrators, parents and students “all want the very same thing. We all want what is the very best for their child.”
“It would only make sense that the school and the families and the parents would collaborate together, in order to do that, to achieve that goal of getting the very best for their kids,” Oban said.
Applicants are asked to write a letter introducing themselves and outlining their reasons for wanting to serve in the Cabinet. A short state form needs to be completed. Other application details are on the Department of Public Instruction’s website. People who are selected for the Cabinet will be notified in early May.
Baesler said the Family Engagement Cabinet will have about 20 members. The group will meet in Bismarck every three months, for two to four hours during each meeting. Baesler said the first meeting will be held in the late spring of this year. Cabinet meetings will be open to the public.
Baesler served as a vice principal, library media specialist, classroom teacher and instructional aide in Bismarck’s public school system before she was elected state school superintendent in November 2012. She is also a former president of the Mandan school board.

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