The Line is pleased to welcome two new members to its Editorial Advisory Board (EAB): Kirsten Baesler, superintendent, North Dakota Department of Public Instruction and Neal McCluskey, director, Center for Educational Freedom, Cato Institute. Each is a fierce education advocate and brings a distinct voice to the conversation about K-12 issues.
We asked Kirsten and Neal why they’ve committed to serving on The Line’s EAB. Here’s what they told us:
“ As we teach students to have a growth mindset and encourage our teachers and school districts to change, we need to model civil discourse more.
The Line is doing the very important work of encouraging conversation around K-12 issues. We are 18 years into the 21st century and oftentimes people make assumptions about K-12 education. They make assumptions about the models of education that we have. But, at the same time, they also don’t make enough assumptions and question enough.
As we teach students to have a growth mindset and encourage our teachers and school districts to change, we need to model civil discourse more. Education leaders need to both demonstrate and inspire civil engagement for our educators so they in turn may do so for students. Our students will be better for it.
Social justice and equity in education matter very much to me. All means all in North Dakota. Too few people are having conversations about education. Without good modeling of civil discourse in education, we leave a whole segment of our population out of the conversation.
As the superintendent of education for a rural, isolated state, it’s also important to me to advocate for conversations about education issues particular to North Dakota and places like it across America.
“I can’t imagine many people could live with themselves if they thought they were pursuing evil or hurtful ends.
I believe in the mission: Civil discourse is vitally important, but seems increasingly marginalized in and out of education policy debates. Certainly if asked, it would be the rare person who’d say civil discourse is not important, but we also know — I sure do from spending too much time on Twitter — how easy it is to descend into obnoxious exchanges driven not by a desire to reach solutions or common ground, but to win points in briskly escalating snark contests.
I have also reached the conclusion that those with whom I disagree are almost certainly well-intentioned — I can’t imagine many people could live with themselves if they thought they were pursuing evil or hurtful ends — and the right thing to do is to treat them that way, just as I hope they’ll treat me. Finally, I am a bit of a student of contact and social capital theory. I know it is crucial to see the common humanity in all people if we are to bridge divides. The Line, I believe, is grounded in those same convictions.
Learn more about Kirsten and Neal through their upcoming features in our EAB Q&A series. Did you know that Neal manages Cato’s Public School Battle Map? Later this month, he’ll share why he believes it is important to track these conflicts of freedoms within schools — the theme of our upcoming spring issue — and much more. And Kirsten will discuss the challenges of balancing the freedoms of individual students with those of the larger education community in April.