Aidan Bertsch now knows he wants to go into government or education.
A seventh-grader at Cheney Middle School, Bertsch was selected to be part of the North Dakota student cabinet, which had its first meeting Nov. 10, at the state Capitol in Bismarck. Bertsch met with 19 other students in the cabinet as well as Kirsten Baesler, the state’s superintendent of public instruction, who put together the cabinet.
“I’m learning a lot about government and how education is run,” Bertsch said. “But I think what I really want to get out of this is thinking that I have helped the state.”
Baesler said the student cabinet, which will have an 18-month term until the spring of 2018, will meet four times a year for a full day. These student aren’t just talking about how they can get more recess, she said, they’re going over agenda items decided by students regarding policies. Baesler said just some of the things students talk about are better ways to leverage technology, more equity among students, early childhood educational policies, more advanced coursework and leadership opportunities, math and English standards, what assessments are valuable and how to prepare for next levels of education. She said the students are aware that adults are setting the table for their future, so she wants to hear their voices as well.
“This isn’t just a great idea about vision,” Baesler said. “This is an intense policy conversation where our students are the representatives of their peers across North Dakota and share with me as the state superintendent where the direction of state education needs to go.”
In his first time there, Bertsch said it was interesting to see how the Capitol is operated and how the state is run. He also said he quickly gained friends in the first meeting.
“It was very interesting to see what other schools in North Dakota are like,” Bertsch said. “You would think everything is very similar, but they face different issues and have very different school lives than I do.”
Baesler said Bertsch has been proactive and she looks forward to working with him more.