She is a smooth politician. A very important person in political circles at our state’s capitol described her to me as “polished”. But on Monday North Dakota Superintendent of Public Instruction, Kirsten Baesler, gave a glimpse into a side of herself the public just does not see very often, if ever. She was angry.
Unfortunately, her display of displeasure at the House Education Committee hearing for House Bill 1432 was no surprise to those of us who have followed Baesler. She has a history of a temper and there are court records to prove it. In addition to that, she also has a history of dishonesty.
One person expressed to me how surprised they were to see Baesler behave the way she did in the hearing. They said that if they were on the committee they would have asked her to leave. I watched some video footage from it and I must admit that I had never seen her so forceful and upset before. I suppose putting her credibility in jeopardy by exposing her lies in relation to the Common Core State Standards wasn’t exactly a comfortable thing for the head of the Department of Public Instruction.
From the start of her presentation to the House Education Committee, Baesler just couldn’t seem to refrain from lies and misrepresentations. In an effort to portray the current “Draft 2 Standards” as North Dakota standards, Baesler completely misrepresented the truth and even showed her hypocrisy on the issue.
From her own testimony, Baesler explains that the committees responsible for the “new standards” met a total of eight days from June through November. Hardly sufficient time to write new standards “by North Dakotan’s for North Dakotan’s.” Yet, from her testimony, you’d think that the committees could have scrapped Common Core altogether and started over from scratch had they wanted to. No rational person would believe that to even be a consideration given the time constraints.
At one point in her testimony, Baesler even refers to the committees “updating” the standards. An update is a far cry from a “new” set of standards.
An analysis of the Draft 2 Standards in comparison with the Common Core show us that all references to the Common Core State Standards have been dropped from the introductory pages to the Draft 2 Standards. Yet, the standards themselves are virtually unchanged. They’re still Common Core. We call that deception.
Perhaps the most ridiculous part of Baesler’s testimony came when she criticized supporters of HB 1432 for wanting to adopt the “out-of-state” and “East Coast” Massachusetts’ standards “wholesale”. She must have forgotten that it was her that worked to adopt (and retain) the unproven Common Core State Standards “wholesale”. Which, by the way, were not written by North Dakotan’s either. Funny how she intentionally misrepresents that too.
But through it all, Baesler was visibly upset. One person said she was ticked off (they used a different word) and came across as a witch (they also used a different word). No, it’s not a comfortable thing to have your lies exposed in a public meeting. Especially when that meeting is with a group of legislators considering a bill that would change the nature of your very own job.
I suppose the big question now is whether the House Education Committee even cares now that they’ve personally witnessed the dark side of our Superintendent of Public Instruction?