Kirsten Baesler is the state school superintendent and the administrator of the North Dakota Department of Public Instruction. She oversees the education of students in 168 school districts and 54 nonpublic schools across the state. Baesler and her team have led significant improvements in the graduation rates and academic success of the state’s Native American students, improved access to personalized learning choices for students and their families, and have led the nation in computer science and cybersecurity instruction in grades K-12.
Kirsten is committed to working with families to provide each child with what they need to reach their highest levels of success. She has made preparing students for life after graduation a top priority. She is running for office to ensure all students graduate Choice Ready: with the knowledge, the skills, and the disposition to do whatever they choose to do after high school, whether it be college or university, enter the workforce with necessary training and certificates, or enlistment in the military.
As State Superintendent, Kirsten has kept North Dakota on the leading edge of changing education in the nation. Superintendent Baesler has fought to ensure that every child and their family can choose an education journey that meets their needs while also leading the nation in preparing students with real-world skills, like critical problem-solving and career training.
In 2021, North Dakota became the first state in the nation to require cybersecurity and computer science teaching at every grade level. Kirsten has worked to address our state's teacher shortage by developing comprehensive apprenticeship plans to boost recruitment and retention for all school professionals -paraprofessionals, teachers, and principals.
Kirsten is a passionate advocate for developing young people as citizens who have respect, courage, compassion, integrity, a sense of responsibility, and appreciation of the unique nature of this great nation.
She serves on more than a dozen boards, including the Education Standards and Practices Board, the Career & Technical Education Board, the Teachers’ Fund for Retirement Board, and the Board of University and School Lands, which manages state land holdings and oversees a $7+ billion trust fund to benefit North Dakota’s public schools.
Baesler took office on Nov. 3, 2022, as the president of the Council of Chief State School Officers, representing chief state education leaders from all 50 states, D.C., and 8 territories or jurisdictions. Baesler was also chosen as a Hunt-Kean Leadership Fellow in 2019.
Before taking office in January 2013, Superintendent Baesler had a 24-year career in the Bismarck public school system – the state’s largest school district – as a vice principal, districtwide technology integration specialist, library media specialist, classroom teacher, and instructional assistant. Superintendent Baesler also spent nine years as an elected member of the Mandan school board, serving as their president for seven of those nine years. She worked for a time as the North Dakota School Boards Association as the association’s assistant director.
Baesler earned two associates’ degrees from Bismarck State College, a bachelor’s degree in education from Minot State University, and a master’s degree in library and information technology integration from Valley City State University and has completed a graduate program in Educational Leadership at Harvard University. She has earned the Valley City State University’s Distinguished Alumni Award and the Rising Star Award from Bismarck State College.
Superintendent Baesler is a native of Flasher, N.D. She lives in Mandan, N.D., and has three adult sons, a daughter-in-law, and two granddaughters. Her children are all graduates of the North Dakota public schools and university system, and all have returned to North Dakota to work and make their homes. She is working tirelessly to ensure that her granddaughters will have high-quality education choices available to them in North Dakota that meet their needs as individual learners.